One would think that games like Gaelic Football and Hurling are only played in Ireland, but the Irish diaspora in Argentina would tell you quite the contrary.
A group of coaches from Ennis, County Clare recently spent two weeks in both Buenos Aires and Rosario, Argentina, teaching local children GAA games and the skills associated with them, according to The 42.
Primary school teacher Eoin Vaughan and three others from Clare, when in the Argentine port city of Santa Fe, met a man named Fabián Costello, a retired and renowned soccer player. In his heyday, Costello had played with the Uruguayan club Peñarol and even won a Copa Libertadores title in 1987, which is an annual South American soccer competition.
As members of an Irish company called Go Gaelic, which gives out lessons for Gaelic games and teaches kids the basics behind these games, their initiative in Argentina was one of a cultural revival of sorts. Their efforts also involve teaching Irish history associated with GAA and the values synonymous with Gaelic games.
Thanks to Romulo from @JockeyClubR for being such a fantastic host while we had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Jockey Club in Rosario. We also had a fantastic time working with Los Tigres along with @HurlingClubArg and @SanIsidroGAA pic.twitter.com/H7xjkmYbMc— Go Gaelic (@GoGaelic) May 11, 2018
Costello, whose family originated from County Leitrim, showed the men around Rosario and emphasized that Argentina had widespread Irish heritage which stems back to emigrants arriving from Ireland after the potato famine. Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, even has its own hurling club that was founded by Irish emigrants in 1922.
With the help of the Irish Embassy in Argentina, these Clare coaches were able to not only teach Argentine children about their Irish heritage through sport but were surprised to learn themselves of the country’s GAA history.
“I know we think we’re the center of the universe over here, but in Brazil, there was very little awareness about Ireland … On the other hand, in Argentina, we were blown away by the people there with Irish ancestry,” Vaughan said.
Los domingos por la mañana en San Isidro jugamos al fútbol gaélico.— San Isidro Gaélico (@SanIsidroGAA) June 3, 2018
Imágenes del partidito de hoy. On Sunday mornings in San Isidro we play Gaelic football.
Pictures of today's game.
San Isidro Gaélico #unafamilia #onefamily pic.twitter.com/nXo7Ze3vIA
The emigrants that left Ireland for Argentina were encouraged to emigrate because they were offered land to settle on in Buenos Aires after the Famine 150 years ago.
Around 600,000 people have Irish ancestry in Argentina, according to Vaughan, who felt that they are largely forgotten about by mainstream Irish culture and society.
Efforts have been made in the country to introduce Gaelic football into the school curriculum, which has largely been spurred on by the Buenos Aires hurling club, as he further noted.
People such as Francisco Lynch, a member of the San Isidro Gaelico club in Buenos Aires, have greatly helped to maintain GAA and help it grow throughout the country. The club was set up as a community-club to not only teach Gaelic games, but also to highlight the traditional values of inclusivity, respect, and sportsmanship to kids.
As GAA spreads to Argentina and other parts of the globe, it leaves one with little doubt that as people emigrate and leave Ireland, the Emerald Isle will always follow.