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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project

Kilkenny

gaa oral history project

Kilkenny is the most successful county in the history of the All-Ireland hurling championship. Although it was football that initially thrived in the county – the first football game played under GAA rules took place in Callan in February 1885 – hurling later became the main Gaelic sport in the county following the securing of the county’s first hurling title in 1904. Over the following decades, hurling success and Kilkenny went hand in hand. For example, from 1931 to 1939 the county contested seven All-Ireland finals, winning four of them. Of great benefit to Kilkenny was the constant stream of players from the county’s schools and colleges, many of which enjoyed a thriving hurling culture. Pre-eminent among them was St Kieran’s, which served as a conveyor belt for some of the greatest hurlers in modern history, including Eddie Keher, DJ Carrey and Henry Shefflin. Brian Cody, another St Kieran’s graduate, has brought remarkable success to the county in recent times. In the opening decades of the twenty-first century, Kilkenny won seven All-Ireland titles and only Tipperary stopped Kilkenny from completing an unprecedented five-in-a-row in 2010. The following year saw Kilkenny regain the Liam McCarthy Cup from Tipperary, their 33rd All-Ireland title.  

KKDevtnail

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Team captain Seamie Cleere is presented with the Liam McCarthy Cup by Eamon de Valera after the 1963 All-Ireland final.
©GAA Oral History Project

KK1966tnail

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The match programme from the 1966 All-Ireland hurling final in which Cork beat Kilkenny 3-9 to 1-10.
©Donal Dalton

Nickey Brennan
Seamus Reade

Nickey Brennan, b. 1953

Former GAA president Nickey Brennan discusses why he gave his support to the setting up of the GAA Oral History Project.
©GAA Oral History Project



Seamus Reade, b. 1947

Seamus recalls how inexpensive it was to take up handball and how some games were made more interesting by betting.
©GAA Oral History Project

'Rivalries are crucial in the GAA. My club have many rivalries with neighbouring clubs, such as Thomastown and Danesfort. Mostly Danesfort as we have lost many players to them due to the dreaded parish rule. It has not been kind to us.'
- Hugh O'Neill, b. 1933
©GAA Oral History Project

'The 1972 All-Ireland final was the best I've ever seen. Kilkenny played Cork and Kilkenny came from eight points down to win by seven... The hurling was magnificent with great stars like Eddie Keher, Frank Cummins and "Chunky" O'Brien.'
- Eugene Larkin, b. 1952
©GAA Oral History Project

'There were great competitions in hurling... and there were great leagues. And when you were in Kieran's you'd nothing else to do only play hurling or play football leagues and the whole lot. Now my young lad is just after coming through Kieran's... and sure, not unless you're on the elite would you be doing any hurling.'
- John Phelan, b. 1952
©GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnaire: Rita O'Neill, b. 1959