A G.A.A. Biobliography for County Tipperary
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1986, pp 101-102
When preparing this article I spoke to a man who had been recently offered the program of the 1930 All-Ireland hurling final for £30. It was an eight page production in a small format and my friend had got the seller to come down to £25. Philip Ryan of Boherlahan told me some time ago that he had no copies of 'The Tubberadora-Boherlahan Hurling Story' left and how he would love to have a few dozen. Many Tipperary people would give anything to own a copy of Canon Fogarty's 'Tipperary G.A.A. Story' but it is out of print.
All of this is by way of introduction to a list of books relating to the G.A.A. in the county. For a place so steeped in the tradition of hurling and so rich in achievement the library is surprisingly bare. It may be due to the kind of people who played and followed the game over the past century. They were predominantly of oral rather than literary bent. They followed the game, spoke of the players and the contest before and after and read the account of the local hack or the national scribe in the following week's papers. But their impressions and opinions were given no permanent form except in the fallibility of oral transmission.
Even the great stars were given little literary treatment. They did get exposure on the hungry Sunday newspapers especially when the latter realised the value for sales from the late forties onwards. A number of magazines came into being and they were avidly read for their accounts of epic encounters and dramatic displays. But other than those transient accounts there is little permanent record. It is significant that only two Tipperary stars, Tommy Doyle and Tony Wall, have books written about them.
What then is available to the bibliophile on the G.A.A. in CountyTipperary? Leading the list by a long puck must surely be Canon Fogarty's 'Tipperary's Hurling Story' which was printed by the 'Tipperary Star' in 1960. Containing 380 pages it covers the history of the G.A.A. in the county from 1884-1934. There are nineteen pages of appendices at the end of the book containing the highlights of the county's achievements between 1934-1956. It is a compreensive account of the first fifty years and should be the starting point for any one contemplating a history. It lists the achievements of every club and gives the names of the outstanding personalities. It has been unfairly criticised for errors and too little praised for its mine of information.
Pre-dating Canon Fogarty was another publication by the 'Tipperary Star' in 1938 of 'Conventions or a Dozen Years with the Gaels of Tipperary' by Rev J.J. Meagher. The author was chairman of the county board and the book contains his addresses to county convention from 1928 to 1938 inclusive. Also included in this 146 page production are miscellaneous pieces by Fr Meagher including addresses to a number of Thurles Sarsfield club conventions.
Of course every follower of Tipperary hurling should read 'Tour of the Tipperary Hurling Team in America, 1926', by Thomas J. Kenny, (George Roberts, London), 1928. 112p.p. This is an entertaining and highly readable personal account of the first tour of a Tipperary team to the U.S.
A vital source of information on the G.A.A. in the county is, of course, convention handbooks. These include not only county conventions but also divisional ones. These handbooks vary in quality and comprehensiveness but they have improved dramatically in latter years. The west division handbook for the past few years is a credit to dlvisional secretary, Gerry Ring. The quality for the earlier years was sometimes so bad that much better accounts of what took place are available in the local papers. County convention hand-books are available back to the thirties at least, but contemporary newspaper accounts are an important alternative source of what transpired.
The greatest source of information on G.A.A. events is undoubtedly, the minutes of club, divisional and county board meetings. The quality of these can vary enormously and depend totally on the efficiency and conscientiousness of secretaries. In fact, from the point of view of history the secretary is the most important individual in the club or on the board. As important as the taking of minutes is the storing of them. In this respect there are some sad tales to relate. Dick Bracken was a most efficient secretary of the Lorrha and Dorrha G.A.A. club for about twenty years and kept good minutes but they have been lost. Another Lorrha man, Michael Moylan, was secretary of the North board for over forty years and all but three years of his minutes have been mislaid. The west board is in existence since 1930 and all minutes since 1935 are intact, though varied in quality. The minutes of the county board also go back to the thirties.
Programs, especially county and divisional final productions, can be rich in information on the clubs involved. Some followers of the game are avid collectors and have fine collections. County secretary, Tomas O'Baroid, has a comprehensive collection of programs. Liam O'Donnchu, who was program editor at Semple Stadium for the past decade, has another good collection. These are all valuable collections and the owners are normally loath to give them on loan.
Other recommended reading for the followers of Gaelic Games in the county should include the following books. Raymond Smith has quite a lot of material between covers and much of it is of relevance to the Tipperary man. Four of his productions deserve mention' 'Decades of Glory' (1966), 'The Football Immortals' (1968), 'The Clash of the Ash' (1972) and 'The Hurling Immortals' (1984).
Two books that give us information on the great period of Tipperary hurling between 1945 and 1965 are by stars from that period, Tommy Doyle and Tony Wall. 'My Lifetime in Hurling', by Tommy Doyle (as told to Raymod Smith), was published by Hutchinson and Co., London in 1955 and contains 178 pages. Tony Wall's book entitled 'Hurling' contains 120 pages and was printed by Cityview Press Ltd, Dublin in 1965.
Since 1970 a committee has been producing an annual yearbook. Seamus 'Riain was the inspiration behind this project when he was county chairman and the original editor was an enthusiastic Gerry Slevin. The production has come out faithfully since and has expanded and become more comprehensive. The special Centenary Edition was an extremely comprehensive account of everything that happened in the G.A.A. in the county for Centenary year. It is a collector's item and should be in every household. The fourteen Yearbooks that have been produced to date contain records for the year that has past and important historical flashbacks and obituary notices.
Another interesting publication is the Report of the Commission on the G.A.A. in Tipperary which came out in 1978. The commission was set up to examine what was wrong with the state of the game in the county and the report of 46 pages, edited by Michael 'Riain of Tipperary, was printed by he 'Guardian', Nenagh.
It has been stated that a comprehnsive history of the county cannot be written until club and divisional histories have been researched. If this is so it will be a long time before Canon Fogarty's work is completed. Of the seventy clubs in the county fewer than twenty percent have produced either club or selected club histories. At the divisional level only the mid has produced something. 'A Century of Gaelic Games in Mid-Tipperary', edited by Michael Dundon and printed by 'The Tipperary Star' in 1984 is an one hundred and twenty page account of the highlights of the first hundred years in that division. In preparation at the moment is a more detailed account of the west division since its foundation in 1930 by J. J. Kennedy.
The following is a list of club and selected club histories to date.
'Moneygall Hurling Story 1885-1975', by Seamus O'Riain. Wellbrook Press, Freshford, 1975. 44pp.
'Official Opening of Thurles Sarsfield Social Centre', Wellbrook Press, Freshford, 1977.
'The Tubberadora-Boherlahan Hurling Story', by Philip F. Ryan, N.T., 'The Tipperary Star', Thurles, 1978. 46pp.
'Kilcommon My Home: Mountainy People at Play', by Bill O'Brien, Slater Bros, Clonmel, 1978. 24p.p.
'Official Opening of Dressing-rooms and Dedication of Seamus Gardiner Memorial Park, Borrisokane', Walsh Printer, Roscrea, 1978.
'Aherlow G.A.A.: Official Opening of. O'Gorman Park', Dalton, Printers, Limerick. 1979.
'Official Opening of Pavilion at St. Cronan's Park, Roscrea', J. F. Walsh, Printer, Roscrea. 1980.
'Cappawhite G.A.A.: Official Opening of Pairc na nGaedhael', Fitzpatrick Bros, Tipperary. 1983.
'Lothra agus Doire: 1884-1984: lomaint agus Peil', by Seamus J. King, The Brosna Press, Ferbane. 1984. 420p.p.·
'The Red Years: A Roscrea G.A.A. Publication' by Seamus O'Doherty, Modern Printers, Kilkenny. 1984. 32p.p.
'Moycarkey-Borris G.A.A. Story', by T. K. Dwyer and Jimmy Fogarty, 'The Tipperary Star', Thurles, 1984. 416p.p.
'Ballybacon-Grange Hurling Club 1928-1984', by Fr Pat Moran, O.S.A., Kennedy Print Ltd, Clonmel, 1985. 58p.p .
'The History of Gortnahoe-Glengoole G.A.A. 100 Years', by John Guiton, C.N.B. Press, Cork, 1985. 128pp.
'Ballingarry Parish Sportsfield: Official Opening. Commemorative Programme and Brief History of Parish', Conmore Press, Kilkenny. 1985.
'Kilruane Mac Donaghs and Lahorna De Wets 1884-1984', by Very Rev. Edward J. Whyte, P.P., The Brosna Press, Ferbane, 1985. 202p.p.
'G.A.A. History of Cashel and Rosegreen, 1884-1984'. by Seamus J. King, The Leinster Leader Ltd, Naas, 1985. 567p.p.
'The Green and Golden Years of Toomevara G.A.A.', by Donal Shanahan, The Brosna Press, Ferbane. 1985. 200p.p.
The Ideal World
The ideal situation for anyone interested in information on the G.A.A. in the county would be to have one central location where all information would be stored. The obvious place is the county library in Thurles and the new centre for local studies would be the ideal location. The problem with records is storage and the problem in the past, and, to a great extent still, is that clubs have no proper filing facilities. Everything falls back on the shoulders of the secretary whose business it is to protect the minutes and club correspondence. He may be short of space or his house may be damp or the dog or the child may want to have fun with the minutes. There is too much dependence on him and there should be another system.
I would like to see the day when a copy of the minutes of every club and every division and of the county board, would be handed over to the county library at the end of each year. Such a development would secure them for posterity but it would also make them easily available for any researcher in the future. That refers to the future. The past is equally important and the quicker existing minutes, however partial or flimsy they may be, are also copied and stored in the library, the better. There are plenty of youth employment schemes at the moment under which the work of getting existing minutes into typescript form could be undertaken. The Centenary Year brought about a new awareness of the past and the writing of club histories has made many people conscious of the need to keep proper records. It is to be hoped that this new awareness will ensure that the records of the next hundred years will provide a more complete picture of what happened in the G.A.A. in the club and the county than those of the past century.