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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project


gaa oral history project

Kerry is the most successful county in the history of the Gaelic football, winning All-Ireland titles on 36 occasions. The prominence of football can be somewhat attributed to the local traditions of ‘Caid’, a form of folk football played in Kerry long before the establishment of the GAA. The faltering progress of the GAA in rural areas of Kerry in the late 1890s due to emigration was countered by the rejuvenation of the Association in towns such as Killarney and Tralee in the early twentieth century. Kerry’s first All-Ireland football title was won in 1903 and many more followed. The preeminent force in the game, Kerry twice won four All-Ireland titles in a row: from 1929 to 1932 and from 1978 to 1981. In Kerry, the football tradition has constantly been reinforced.  Success has built upon success. As if to emphasise the point, the county appeared in nine of the first twelve All-Ireland finals played in the new Millennium.


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Patients of St Finan's Hospital who were involved in the construction of Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney during the 1930s.
©GAA Oral History Project


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A programme for the opening of Con Brosnan Park in Moyvane, Co. Kerry in June 1984.
©GAA Oral History Project

John Bambury
Sean Kelly

John Bambury, b. 1924

John recalls his first experience on the 'ghost train' from Killarney to Dublin in 1939.
©GAA Oral History Project

Sean Kelly, b. 1952

Former GAA president Sean Kelly talks about the time his brother snuck out of the priests' college in Maynooth to come home to play a local final.
©GAA Oral History Project

'Being a Kerryman, football is a second religion in the county so it was unavoidable to escape it. Watching Kerry teams training in Killarney, my home town, from the '50s onwards leaves a a lasting impression.'
- Aloysius 'Weeshie' Fogarty, b. 1941
© GAA Oral History Project 

'Matches in Killarney were a nightmare with traffic. Today's tradition is to get there early settle in a pub near the ground and build up the atmosphere to a point where you talk your stomach into knots with nerves. Time to go then.'
- Peter O'Regan, b. 1980
© GAA Oral History Project

'But the fields were very poor like you know, there was no such thing as fields being lined, some places there was a rope across for a crossbar. Then you'd have umpires and when a score was coming towards the post, they'd pull it in or pull it out to make sure that it went wide or went over the bar.'
- Billy Doolin, b. 1945
© GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnarie: John O'Keeffe, b. 1944