|GAA: beloved for generations across all ages|
The intensely passionate addiction for Gaelic sports held by Irish ex-pats did not just form after the establishment of the GAA in 1884. There are accounts the world over which narrates the Irish grá for the clash of the ash and the big ball in the years and centuries prior to the clarion call for formal organization of these sports went out from the Dergvale Hotel of Dublin to Hayes’ Hotel in Thurles.
An imposing figure of 6’6”, he immigrated to Paris in the mid eighteenth century to escape the repressive penal laws. He immediately set about organizing hurling matches among the large number of Irishmen in Paris. They played exhibition matches in one of the city’s parks, which attracted huge crowds of curious Parisians.
|Old Wicklow Dark Blues GAA Team 1898|
It is worth noting that his fellow Clareman, Mr. Blackwell of Ennistymon may not have been held in such high esteem by the French monarch. He happened to have been a revolutionary leader during the storming of the Bastille in Paris, which sparked the new era of the French republic.
|Meath GAA, unknown date|
Part 1: Exiled Gaels and sporting rebels - Exotic stories of Gaelic and indigenous games
Fair day murders were commonplace, and when authorities did intervene, the factions often united and turned against them. In some instances magistrates were even interested parties in the outcome of such riots. Faction fighting was a legacy of a distressed and subject society, and it could be argued that warring gangs such as the Caravats and Shanavests were to early nineteenth century Ireland what rival Afro-American gangs such as the Crips and the Bloods were and are to Los Angeles today. Irish stick fighting is promoted today as a martial art in Canada and America.
Then you have the American Civil War Hero and the Hurler. The father of the Irish tricolour was the Waterford born Young Irelander, Thomas Francis Meagher, who was later to also win fame as a Union general of the Fighting Irish 69th Regiment at Gettysburg in the American Civil War. In the late 1840s, he exhorted his fellow Irishmen to bring back the ‘old game of hurling’, and later supported hurling exhibitions in the US. Michael Cusack was later to cite Meagher’s speeches to assert Irish racial superiority. The Citizen Cusack himself claimed that it was the training of the hurling field that ‘made the men and boys of the Irish brigade’ of the eighteenth century.
|GAA played in Croke Park 1929|
The Kentucky Guards hurling club was founded in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1853. A concerted Irish American initiative to form an Irish sports body began in 1880, four years before the GAA was founded, in Worcester, New England, the later setting for the Hollywood classic, A Perfect Storm. Thousands participated in these Gaelic days, although the standard of the earlier hurling was savaged in the local press at the time. The Irish Athletic Club in Boston was the first American branch to affiliate to the GAA in 1886.
Elsewhere narrated in this parish in the townland of the Celtic Times, are the seismic happenings at Batman’s Hill, Melbourne, Australia, where the first and last battle for Irish cultural freedom in Australia was won, through the simple playing of Gaelic football and hurling matches, this a half century before the GAA was set up. It is also fitting to note that fifty odd years on from it, at the foundation meeting of the GAA in Thurles, Cusack read out a letter of support from a solicitor, Mr Lynch, on behalf of the Irish of Melbourne for the fledgling new movement.