Recent G.A.A. Publications - 1998

Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1999, pp 41


There's an absolute dearth of club publications in the county this year. No club has gone to print! Talking to Seamus McCarthy recently about Tipperary's All-Ireland junior football victory and his own receipt of the Tipperary Sport Star award, I asked him about the Bansha book. This was promised a few years ago. According to him he is hoping to close the final chapter in the New Year. Galtee Rovers' achievements have been outstanding this year and their victories would make a fine closing chapter, plus, of course, his own impressive achievements. 

If no club published a history in 1998, one club P.R.O. got the highest recognition. Bridget Delaney of the Burgess G.A.A. Club won a McNamee Award for her club media presentation. As club P.R.O. since 1992, she has produced the club notes for the Guardian every week, fifty-two weeks in the year. She received her award for the comprehensiveness and completeness of her effort, offering a weekly diet of news of matches, events, functions, obituaries, any club activity worthy of mention. She supplements her notes with appropriate photographs and so convinced is she of the value of the picture to draw attention to the text that she is presently pursuing a photography course in Cork. As well as her P.R.O. work, Bridget is also working assiduously on the club history. Much work has been completed, many photographs have been collected. In fact, progress has been so good that, if she acquired a sponsor to cover the cost of publication, she would be in print in the not-too-distant future. 

A number of books, published during the past year, are worthy of mention. Sport, Culture, Politics and Scottish Society - Irish Immigrants and the G.A.A. by Joseph M. Bradley (Edinburgh, 1998) traces the history of Gaelic sport in Scotland from its beginnings in 1897 up to the present. It puts the sport in the context of Scottish nationalism and shows how national identification tended to be with Glasgow Celtic rather than with the G.A.A. The book is about much more than sport, being a commentary on the historical, social and political development of the Irish in Scotland. 

For Love of Town and Village by Jack Mahon (Dublin, 1997) explores the exciting success of the AIB G.A.A. Club All-Ireland championships. The club unit has always been the bedrock of the G.A.A. In the early days the AII-Irelands were contested between clubs representing counties, with the first ever titles of 1887 won by Thurles and Limerick Commercials. This practice continued right up to the 1920s. From then onwards counties were represented by selections from all the clubs in the counties and the club unit tended to count for less. The revival of the club championship in 1970 gave the clubs back something precious and something that has proven enduring. It is the one 'modern' competition that has caught the imagination of the public. The Oireachtas and the Railway Cup may have declined but the club championship goes from strength to strength. It gives supporters the opportunity to see some top class hurling and football and meaningful competition during the winter months. The book not only tells the story of the victorious sides but highlights some of the personalities who played. Two chapters of particular Tipperary interest are titled Roscrea: First in Hurling and Lovely Fair Ieigh. It's a wel­come addition to the G.A.A. library. 

Sambo: All or Nothing by Terence McNaughton (Dublin, 1998) tells the story of Antrim hurling through the experiences of the writer. It's a lively read and Tipperary don't come very well out of it. Writing about the aftermath of the 1989 All-Ireland and the banquet for the All-Ireland teams at Kilmainham, the following day, he has this to say: 'We didn't want to be at that banquet - we wanted to be home with our families. It wasn't a question of bad sportsmanship. We were hurt and humiliated. We had been beaten by a better side, beaten by 18 points. If we didn't deserve to win, neither did we deserve the insults of a few - and I'd emphasise a few - of the Tipperary players. One made a comment about my 'hairstyle'. If I'd a penny for every time I'd had someone slag me about my dome, I'd be rich. It was the manner in which it was said that day. Offence was intended and it wasn't just that we were raw from losing. They tried to rub our noses in it. They showed us no respect whatsoever and lacked manners. One said he 'didn't rate winning the All-Ireland because we only beat Antrim'. Another said: 'We'll have to win another All-Ireland medal because this one won't count.' One of them subsequently refused me an autograph for my son. When I asked, he turned and said, 'Why, who are you?' And there is more! 

Wexford Old Gaels' Story, 1982-1997 compiled by Larry Larkin (Enniscorthy, 1997, is a totally different kind of book. It is about an organisation, founded in Wexford in 1982, to ensure that the work of dedicated G.A.A. people is recognised and remembered. Hundreds of testimonial awards have been presented in the past fifteen years. Those who scaled the heights in their playing days and those who attained the top official posts have been included. But, more importantly, many of those who have played and worked for their clubs with dedication without ever achieving major success have also been recognised and honoured. The motto of the organisation is that 'it is important that we do not forget to remember.' Maybe there's room for a similar organisation in this county. 

On a personal note, The Clash of the Ash in Foreign Fields: Hurling Abroad (Cashel, 1998), was published during the year. It completes the work begun in A History of Hurling. In fact, the work began as a chapter in the latter book but, because the book had gone beyond the limits laid down by the publishers, had to be withdrawn. It was just as well because what I had tried to cram into one chapter was too much. To attempt to cover the history of hurling in the U.K., North America, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and other places in a chapter was not on. It deserved a book and has got just that (200 pages in A4 size) in The Clash of the Ash in Foreign Fields. The book covers the attempts made by the G.A.A. to spread the gospel of hurling abroad by sending top teams of hurlers on promotional trips to foreign places, beginning with the American 'Invasion' in 1888 and continuing right down to the All-Star trips of modern times. It also relates the efforts of the Irish diaspora to organise the game in a meaningful way wherever they found themselves in large numbers.