Recent G.A.A. Publications (2003)
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2004, pp 51-53
The number of G.A.A. publications for review in this article is small in comparison with other years, but they make up in quality what they lack in quantity. Pride of place must go to 'Kickhams: Gaelic Games in Knockavilla and Donaskeigh' by J.J. Kennedy, P.R.O. of the West division since 1982 and contributor of a G.A.A. commentary column to the Nationalist, under the penname "Westside" for a good number of years.
The history of Gaelic games in the parish of KnockaviIla and Donaskeigh is a high quality work of over 400 pages. One of the many things in the book that caught my attention is to be found under the heading of 1935. The big story in that year was one of unity at last, as the existing teams of Knockavilla, Donaskeigh and Dundrum coalesced into the one club that would represent the entire parish for the future.
And what was that club called! Yes, you've guessed: Kickhams! Not Knockavilla Kickhams, or Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams, but Kickhams. I have been preaching this for some time, but newspapers, program makers and a varied assortment of people have been calling the club by other names for many years. So, maybe people will start calling the club by the right name now that the authority on the history of the club has spoken.
According to the author, the famous meeting that heralded the arrival of Kickhams is said to have taken place in the newly built chaplain's house at the Convent Cross, an appropriate place within striking distance of Dundrum, Knockavilla and Donaskeigh.
The event wasn't reported and no minutes of the meeting remain in existence, but, according to the author, anecdotal evidence suggests that the list of those who attended included, Sean O'Dwyer, later West chairman, Jerry O'Dwyer, later West secretary, Willie O'Dwyer, Mick Ryan (B), Gerard O'Dwyer (Managh), Paddy Cleary, Con McCarthy, Paddy Morrissey. An impressive line-up indeed.
As the three teams that coalesced in 1935 indicates, there was a G.A.A. life in the parish before that date. The book contains two chapters, which cover the history of the games in Knockavilla Donaskeigh, from the foundation of the G.A.A. up to 1930, when the West board was formed. The interesting thing is that the first chapter is called. "The Time of the Football", and it reflects the fact that football was the first game of the parish in the early days of the G.A.A., an era that subsequently became known in the parish as the time of the football. So, as the author points out, when the Kickham club was promoted to senior football for the first time ever in 1997 following the county intermediate win in 1996 it was in fact returning to its roots. The first official championship won by any team from the parish was a Mid junior football title, won
by Dundrum in 1927.
In the course of time Kickhams became a hurling club predominantly and had a most successful period between the midforties and 1960. During this period twelve divisional championships were won and, on the night of the launch – and what a great night it was with the hugely impressive past-president of Cumann Luthchleas Gael, Peter Quinn, doing the honours - the players who brought such honour to the club during that period were honoured.
Pride of place in the distinguished company went to John Farrell, Co. Chairman; Sean Fogarty, the only player to win all twelve, plus five divisional minor titles in the preceding years.
Following that golden age the club declined and, even though juvenile success started to come in the eighties, it took a long time to be translated into senior success. This happened in 1997, when the club captured their first senior divisional championship in the space of thirty- seven years.
All of this is recorded by J. J. Kennedy in this book. The publication must be a model for all other writers of club histories. It is comprehensive and concise, containing all the information required without long-winded or boring accounts of matches long gone. J.J. has incorporated short excerpts from contemporary newspaper accounts to add flavour to his narrative. The appendices include a list of all divisional winning teams plus the club's roll of honour. If a fault is to be found in this excellent publication it might be the shortage of pictures. There is a good scattering of them through the text but in a visual age more would have been desirable. I can understand that the author was constrained by those at his disposal, especially in the earlier part of the book.
Overall, though, J. J. Kennedy has done his club an enormous service. He has produced a work of quality that is a delight to read, even for one from outside the parish. He has brought to the work a thorough knowledge of Gaelic games in the area plus a wonderful facility with language, which has allowed him to give us a most readable account of the history of the games in the parish of Knockavilla and Donaskeigh. The book is w rth much more than the €20 asking price.
The publication of a facsimile edition of Celtic Times, Michael Cusack's Gaelic Games Newspaper, by the Clasp Press, Ennis in conjunction with Comhairle na Mumhan , CLG, is an historical event.
Cusack published the paper during 1887 and it was revolutionary at the period, devoted as it was to sport. It was mostly produced by Cusack himself, with reports of athletic events and G.A.A. matches fed from a wide range of correspondents around the country . Events in County Tipperary are well covered in the paper, and in great detail as well. Cusack also used to paper to pronounce on whatever was bugging him at the time in the sporting area. Remember, he had severed his link s with officialdom in the G.A.A. at this stage, but he used the paper to support
and encourage the playing of Ireland's native pastimes and athletics. At any rate the paper was " lost". For years it was believed that no copy of the paper existed. In 1969, Clare man, Brendan
MacLua, who founded the " Irish Post", in London in that year, was given a file of Celtic Times, by Tommy Moore, a legendary G.A.A. figure, who ran a pub in Cathedral Street, Dublin. MacLua took the file to London and forgot, about it as he got his new paper off the ground. Years later he told a few people about it and Marcus de Burca used it when writing the biography of Cusack, which appeared in 1989. When the National Library heard of the file they asked MacLua to donate it. So also did the Clare County Library. Eventually MacLua donated it to Cusack's, and his own, native county with a microfilm copy going to the National Library.
How Tommy Moore got the only surviving copy of the paper remains a mystery. It appears it may have been the publisher's own copy, as the file is bound and hard-covered. Whereas it will remain a mystery for some time to come, it is now possible for anyone to have a hard-bound copy of the file. What Clasp Press have done is to produce an extraordinary fine facsimile with the front cover carrying the masthead of the Celtic Times, plus the familiar picture of the bearded Cusack.
The facsimile includes numbers 8-53 of the paper, running from February-December 1887. It is missing the first seven numbers and the final two. The paper disappeared in mid-January 1888, simply because it was no longer able to pay its way. Cusack himself admitted that the circulation had fallen from 20,000 a week in May to 10,000 in December.
The paper sold for 1d for the benefit of the younger there were 240 of them in a pound. If you wish to purchase the 42 issues in this facsimile they will cost you €75. Dear indeed, but for an insight into the mind of Cusack, as welI as information on the progress of the G.A.A. in the year 1887, as well as a wonderful historical curiosity , welI w rth the expenditure.
All About Hurling
On a totally different scale is a 32 page publication from O'Brien Press entitled simply All About Hurling. Written by Irene Barber, and supported by Cumann na mBunscoil, it's a delightful publication for primary school students. The table of contents gives us the flavour:
1) the history of hurling,
2) the hurley,
3) the sliotar,
4) the Gaelic Athletic Association,
5) the trophies,
6) Croke Park,
8) Mick Mackey,
9) Christy Ring,
10) D. J. Carey, etc.
in all twenty-three chapters, imaginatively illustrated.
A lovely contrast may be seen in two chapters entitled: Then, Now, showing the changes that have taken place in the games over the years. For sale: €7.95.
A quick look at three programmes that appeared during the year. The first has to be the county hurling final program, which contained a 12-page insert on the celebrations for the 1958-65 All-Ireland players. This was a wonderful production which was collated by county P.R.O. Ed Donnelly. Sadly, not enough copies of the program were produced. Four thousand were printed on the expectation of a crowd of 8,000 but over 10,000 turned up. Some people were left short.
Tipperary Institute hosted the Fitzgibbon and Ryan finals this year, and, incidentally, won the Ryan. They produced a bumper program for the event, and some are still available from the college for €3.
Liam Hogan and Ed Don nelly produced an all-colour program for the Kilruane MacDonaghs-Burgess county intermediate final, and the junior hurling A final replay between Burgess and Fennellys on the weekend of November 22/23. A beautiful production, and a credit to the Nenagh Guardian, who did the print work , it will become a trophy for the Kilruane MacDonaghs, as it saw them return to senior ranks, as well as for the Fennellys, who achieved a rare victory at this level.
Too late for review the 'History of Camogie in Tipperary' by Martin Bourke and Seamus J. King was launched by Meadhbh Stokes, the first player to captain a Tipperary senior camogie team to All- Ireland honours, at the Templemore Arms on December 3.
Containing almost 700 pages and over 300 photographs, the book traces the history of camogie in the county from the foundation of An Cumann Camoguideachta in 1904 to the end of 2003. It deals particularly with the history from 1932 onwards, when the first county championship was played.
As well as giving a detailed account of the story of the game, the book also includes an extensive statistical section devoted to results, winning teams etc. There are also chapters on the game in primary and secondary schools, profiles of clubs, poems and ballads, obituaries.
Selling for €25 it should prove excellent value and be a handy present for Christmas. It is the second county history to be produced - Cork published theirs in 2000 - and just in time for the Centenary of the Camogie Association in 2004.