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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project


gaa oral history project

Although Leitrim has the smallest population of any other county in Ireland it can boast the highest number of GAA clubs and players per capita (twenty-four clubs in total as of 2010). The decline in the GAA’s fortunes in the 1890s was a national phenomenon, but it had a major effect on many of the smaller counties, such as Leitrim. The formation of a new county board in 1904 saw the expansion of the Association throughout the county, resulting in a renewed and vibrant club scene. Emigration, however, has played a critical role in the ability of Leitrim teams to compete on the inter-county scene.  A population decline that began in the mid-nineteenth century continued until the 1990s, at which point the population of Leitrim stood at approximately 25,000. For all its obvious disadvantages, Leitrim has enjoyed some notable successes. Highlights include the winning of an All-Ireland ‘B’ football title in 1990 and an Intermediate All-Ireland Ladies football title in 2007. The vitality of the GAA in the county is also reflected in the contribution it has made to the development of the Scór competition, where Leitrim members have enjoyed considerable success. 


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A county calender featuring the Leitrim team that won the 1927 Connacht Championship.
©GAA Oral History Project


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A poem written by Johnny Mulhern about the 1988 All-Ireland Junior ladies' football champions.
©GAA Oral History Project

Mary Glancy
Tommy Moran

Mary Glancy, b. 1956

Mary recalls her time as county secretary and the difficulties in contacting players before the time of mobile phones.
©GAA Oral History Project

Tommy Moran, b. 1941

Tommy talks about the make up of the GAA in Leitrim and discusses the loyalty of the players to the county team.
©GAA Oral History Project

'Somebody said to me, "what was your first thought when you won the All-Ireland in 1988 and you're standing in the middle of Croke Park...?". My first memory was "where is the ball? Get it and put it back in the bag. Don't lose any of our stuff!"... You had to work so hard to get money to get jerseys, to get balls. You minded it when you had it.'
Mary Quinn, b. 1958
©GAA Oral History Project

'Leitrim, as a county, has been deprived of success at a national level but that doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm or commitment or the work of everybody that’s involved in whatever capacity. They embrace it.'
Joe Flynn, b. 1947
©GAA Oral History Project

'The football was made up of rags that were tied with a rope and played. That was our football. Sometimes the pig's bladder was used as well, but that was only at Christmas and, of course, inevitably it would get punctured... on a blackthorn stick or something like that... So that would end that football and we'd have to go back to the rags again.'
Michael McGowan, b. 1936
©GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnaire: Peter "Pee" McHugh, b. 1934