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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project


gaa oral history project

With the national decline of the GAA in the 1890s, the Association in Longford was reduced from a vibrant organisation of twenty five clubs with over a thousand members to an almost non-existent entity. By the time the local GAA revived in the early 1900s, soccer had established itself as a dominant game in the county’s principal urban centre. As the GAA slowly regained lost ground, the preference for football over hurling in the county became apparent, not least in colleges such as St Mel’s, winners of the inaugural Leinster colleges’ competition in 1928. Longford experienced massive levels of emigration in the years following the ‘Emergency’ and though the GAA was affected at a local level, the effect on the county team was not immediately apparent. In fact, the 1960s was Longford’s most successful period. A first National Football League title was won in 1966, followed by a Leinster title in 1968. Success since then has centred on the county’s underage teams where investment in youth structures has delivered two Leinster minor football titles to Longford since the turn of the new millennium.


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Boys from a local team in Longford tog out in a nearby bush before the start of the game.
©GAA Oral History Project


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A poem about the former player and Director General of the GAA, Liam Mulvihill, written by Paddy Egan.
©GAA Oral History Project

Eugene McGee
Martin Jennings

Eugene McGee, b. 1941

Eugene discusses the success of Longford's footballers during the 1960s and the role his brother played in that success.
©GAA Oral History Project

Martin  Jennings, b. 1948

Martin talks about how hurling has fared in Longford over the years and the improvements he has seen in recent years.
©GAA Oral History Project

'The GAA was very important in our house when we were growing up. We were brought to nearly all the Granard and Longford games and always encouraged by both our parents. Every Sunday the car was loaded up and we headed off to where ever Granard were playing. During Summer school holidays the only time we would get off the farm was mass on the Sunday and football training and matches. Most things were planned around the football.'
- Matt Smyth, b. 1963
©GAA Oral History Project

'During the Rosary my mother always prayed for one of my brothers in particular... This is probably because he was prone to injury. I remember one time a Guard called to our house late on a Sunday evening to tell my mother that my brother had been taken to hospital with a broken leg following a match injury. She was glad neither herself nor myself managed to get a lift to that particular match. My brother was on crutches after that and I remember him playing in goals (even with his leg plastered) in the hay field at the back of the house.'
- Mary Hughes, b. 1956
©GAA Oral History Project

'If he got hurt, there was no way he could go home and tell. He put out his collarbone this particular day, and he got the coat on after the match but he couldn't get the coat off because the collarbone was dislocated and, he had to go out and plough the next morning and he couldn't take off the coat - and he didn't take off the coat for about three weeks afterwards. It must have been unreal, the pain that he went through. But they had to show that they were tough, and if they got hurt playing football there was certainly no sympathy for them at home.'
- Martin Skelly, b. 1953
©GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnaire: Fergal Kelly, b. 1976