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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project


gaa oral history project

It was following the abandonment of a match between Michael Cusack’s Metropolitan hurling club and the hurlers of Killimor in Ballinasloe due to ‘rough play’ in 1884 that the need to regulate the game of hurling on a national basis became apparent. Indeed, it was in Galway, and not Tipperary, that Cusack initially planned to establish the GAA. The Association, and in particular hurling, thrived in the county from the offset. This is evident from the participation of fourteen clubs and ten thousand spectators in a tournament in Clarinbridge in 1887. The county’s first All-Ireland hurling title came in 1923 and despite further promise it was only in 1980 that the feat was replicated. Since then, Galway has added two more titles, bringing their total to four. Despite the absence of further All-Ireland honours in the intervening years, Galway club sides, most notably Portumna and Clarinbridge, have proved prolific in national competitions. Galway also has an impressive footballing record, achieving All-Ireland success on nine occasions, including a three-in-a-row in the 1960s. They remain among the country’s most active dual code counties.


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The Dervan brothers from Tynagh who all played on the same team in the late 1960s.
© GAA Oral History Project


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A membership card for Dunmore McHales GAA Club, dated 1891.
© GAA Oral History Project

Michael McGowan
Arthur Ó Flaithearta

Michael McGowan, b. 1936

Michael recalls organising a 22 a-side school game in Lough Rea that was played on the frozen lake.
© GAA Oral History Project

Arthur Ó Flaithearta, b. 1953

Pléann Arthur tréimhse rathúil a bhí ag Naomh Éinne, Inis Mór ag tús na n-ochtóidí.
© GAA Oral History Project

'I was brought up in a GAA household. When I was about 18, for the first time in Galway, ladies football commenced with two clubs forming, one was Belclare and the other Caherlistrane. So myself and my two sisters started playing with Caherlistrane, because it was the nearer club to us. My earliest GAA memory was going to an uncle's house to watch Galway play in the All-Ireland Football Final of 1964. At that time few people had the luxury of a television set. We were lucky in that my uncle who lived down the road had one and I remember his house being full with all the neighbours in looking at the match.'
- Geraldine Kennedy, b. 1958
© GAA Oral History Project

'It was most exciting for me when I was younger, travelling to the big county games and to me, county players were all my heroes. Among the grounds which we visited frequently were Tuam Stadium, MacHale Park, Castlebar, Markiewicz Park, Sligo, Páirc MhicDhiarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon and St. Coman's Park, Roscommon. We were fanatical supporters who wore our county colours and who rejoiced in our victories and were shattered when defeated.
- Leo Finnegan, b. 1944
© GAA Oral History Project

'Back in the 1980s there were very few TVs on the island [Inisbofin], so we used to meet up in this particular house to watch the games, especially when Galway were playing. [We] used to have good craic with the old men who were also watching the game. In later years, [we] travelled to Connacht Finals and if we were lucky to All-Ireland finals.'
- Anne Walsh, b. 1959
© GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnarie: Gerard Dowd, b. 1960