A Cork based photographer has spent the last seven years capturing the action of Gaelic club games in their unique and amazing surroundings for his work Gaelic Fields. Paul Carroll has now launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the book that has clearly become his passion.
Carroll has created a photography documentary focusing on the backdrops of fields and grassroots games throughout every county in Ireland. Starting the work in 2010 he travelled over 31,000 miles focusing exclusively on club games.
The book will feature the beauty of games played on the fields of Aran and Inisturk Islands, south Kerry and the Glens of Antrim to the urban landscapes of Cork, Dublin and Belfast and scores of locations in between. Carroll has photographed football, hurling, camogie and ladies football games are at all adult levels in every county of Ireland.
This is the first photography documentary to focus exclusively on grassroots Gaelic games and the locations they are played. Carroll decided to tackle the project after being inspired by Dutch photographer Hans Van Der Meer's work "European Fields." Van Der Meer photographed grassroots soccer games throughout Europe over 10 years.
Carroll realised that Gaelic games had never been captured in this way in Ireland. He said “We are often not mindful of what’s around us. We Irish can take for granted the amazing locations and beauty in every county on the island. We tend to romanticise and enjoy Ireland more when we are away.”
He set out to explore the different locations of Gaelic clubs and the identity they bring to communities. What he discovered will be common knowledge to people within small Gaelic games communities everywhere:
"The club is a local support system which accommodates all social levels in both urban and rural areas. During the seven-year period it took to create Gaelic Fields, clubs have withstood a recession and the mass emigration of many of its young players. It's a vibrant and important grassroots movement."
The photography journey was funded by his work in two social care settings in Cork City. One of these posts is working with 18-25 year olds who are at risk of being homeless. The other is as organiser of Cork's Homeless Street League.
In his free time Carroll travelled more than the circumference of the earth within Ireland capturing Gaelic games and their locations.
Carroll was greeted well but with interest on his journey's: "99 times out of 100 people were very nice, but wanted to know why a photographer had travelled from Cork to a Junior A football game in Dring, Co. Longford on a Thursday evening!"
On one of these trips he put down his camera for a team that was short a few players. He played one half of one game, scored a point and afterwards went to work a nightshift.
"For 30 minutes of a game I became part of my own project!"
The book is due to be released in late November. As part of the Kickstarter, people who pre-order/pledge to buy the book are encouraged to give their thoughts on what community, identity and their club mean to them. Some of these submissions will be used in the book
Carroll explained that “Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. No one will be charged for a pledge towards a project unless it reaches its funding goal by the project end date.”
He added “The Kickstarter goal is €10,230 and ends on September 2nd.”