gaa oral history project
The GAA Oral History Project, based in Boston College-Ireland, has been commissioned by the GAA as part of its 125th Anniversary celebrations. The Project aims to record the fullest possible picture of what the GAA has meant to the Irish people, in their own words. The Project will record face-to-face interviews with thousands of people in Ireland and internationally, including GAA members and supporters, and anyone who has ever had any contact or involvement with the GAA.
The history of the GAA is a people’s history. In an organisation of volunteers, the thoughts of ordinary members and supporters should be recorded along with those of champions and high-level officials. We have alive in Ireland today a group of people who can tell us exactly what it was like to play hurling with Christy Ring, or cycle to Croke Park from Kerry for the All-Ireland final. We need to preserve as many of those voices as we can.
The Project aims to represent the views, opinions, and memories of the members of all the organisations under the umbrella of the GAA, including Ladies' Football, Camogie, Handball, Rounders, and Scόr.
In addition to recording interviews, and in order to reach the largest number of people possible, the GAA Oral History Project is also providing questionnaires for people to fill out. Alternatively, people can simply send the Project a letter or email about the place of the GAA in their lives.
We want to hear the opinions and stories of everyone, not just Irish people at home, but Irish people abroad, and also people of different nationalities who have lived in Ireland or come in contact with the GAA at some point. This project is designed to be all-encompassing — we want to develop an archive that represents every viewpoint on the GAA, good, bad, and indifferent. You do not have to know a lot about the GAA or have a lot to say to take part. Without your help, your story and the story of your club and your county cannot be told.
As this project aspires to be the largest public history project carried out in the state to date, the material collected will provide possibly the richest source of material to the sociologists of the present and the historians of the future. The interviews that are conducted and the questionnaires that are collected will allow current and future family members of participants to hear and see their ancestors, to view their handwriting, to learn about how they lived and the place of the GAA in their lives.
In addition to carrying out interviews and questionnaires, we are also building up a collection of documents, photographs, and recordings relating to the social side of the GAA from 1884 to the present. We are hoping to gather pictures, videos, and recordings of the social life surrounding the GAA, whether they are of families having a picnic on the way to or from a match, of spectators at a match, of supporters on the train or bus to a match, of homecoming celebrations and commiserations, or of social events. We are also hoping to collect posters, letters, songs, poems and prayers relating to the GAA.
We would like material relating to social events organised around the GAA, records and minute books, correspondence and financial material from counties and clubs, and anything which tells us the stories of the people behind the organisation — the jersey washers, tea makers, stewards, grounds-staff, ticket collectors, bus and car drivers, officials, coaches, managers, backroom teams, committee members, players, and supporters.
Samples of the collected material will be made available to the public on this website www.gaahistory.com through a range of books and through a number of radio and TV documentaries. The entire GAA Oral History Project Collection — the full-length interviews, questionnaires, letters, deposited documents, recordings, and photographs gathered — will be preserved as a permanent resource on the history of the GAA in particular and Irish society in general, and will be made available to the public through the GAA Museum and Archive.