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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project

Down

gaa oral history project

Down was the first county from Northern Ireland to win an All-Ireland football final. The victory over Kerry in 1960 marked the culmination of a project that began in the 1950s. Down retained the title in 1961 and claimed their third title in 1968. These All-Ireland victories were accompanied by twelve Ulster final appearances in a row between 1958 and 1969, with the Mournemen lifting the cup on seven occasions. Although the GAA in Down was not as deeply damaged by the Troubles as it was in other counties, tensions still existed. A fractious relationship between the security forces and many members of the GAA had a lasting effect. 1991 saw the return of the Sam Maguire to Down, a victory which was followed three years later with the defeat of Dublin in the 1994 All-Ireland final. Although Down has enjoyed modest success in hurling – it has four Ulster senior titles to its name – the county remains primarily identified with Gaelic football. Recent growth in the local club scene has seen success at Under-21 level in both hurling and football and this growth was rewarded with an All-Ireland senior football final appearance in 2010.

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Down clubs, Castlewellan and Longstone, in action in the Kilmacud Crokes All-Ireland Club Sevens in 2009.
©GAA Oral History Project

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Front cover of the programme for a match between Down and Armagh, the first inter-county football to played under lights.
©GAA Oral History Project

Tom Cunningham
Mairin McAleenan

Tom Cunningham, b. 1946

Tom from An Ríocht GAC discusses the rivalry that existed between Kikeel and Greencastle and how the latter stormed the stage after a local sevens' final.
©GAA Oral History Project

Máirín McAleenan, b. 1971

Máirín from Liatroim Fotenoys GAC discusses the pride she felt receiving a jersey from Sheila McCartan and talks about her All-Star.
©GAA Oral History Project 

'I think the club means everything to, let's be honest about it, the Nationalist people. It was the thing that kept us together when times were difficult. I'd argue it also kept people sane because if you hadn't have had the club there, there's a chance that a lot more people would've gone down the armed struggle way.'
- PJ McGee, b. 1950
©GAA Oral History Project

'There would've been disputes about the club here... whenever you went away to a match, Ballycranna would sit there, Ballygalet would sit there and Portaferry would sit here. We didn't speak to one another. That was just the way it was.'
- William Coulter, b. 1946
©GAA Oral History Project

'The vision and commitment of our club committees; their enthusiasm, their commitment to their communities, the great energy they bring to a community, the enthusiasm, colour, noise, the whole life experience of the community. I think our clubs are magnificent in what they're doing in terms of their activities for young and old and in terms of their facilities. I'd be very proud of that.'
- Dan McCartan, b. 1946
©GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnaire: Gerry Dougherty, b. 1948