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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project


gaa oral history project

With a strong local tradition of athletics, Mayo developed as the pre-eminent football power in Connacht in the early twentieth century, winning eight of the nine Provincial finals played between 1901 and 1910. For all this dominance, however, Mayo had, by 1932, appeared in only three All-Ireland football finals – and lost all three. The fortunes of the county at national level changed in the years that followed, with Mayo embarking on a phenomenal run of success, winning six National Football League titles in a row, as well as a long awaited All-Ireland title in 1936. Further provincial honours followed in the 1940s, but the peak of the county’s GAA achievements came in 1950 and 1951 when Mayo won back-to-back All-Ireland titles. These victories were remarkable for being achieved against a backdrop of economic deprivation and decline – the population of the county had fallen steadily since the mid-nineteenth century. Football retains a strong hold on the county and, despite falling at the final hurdle in five All-Ireland finals between 1989 and 2011, a vibrant club scene has delivered All-Ireland club titles to both Crossmolina and Ballina Stephenites since the turn of the millennium. Mayo have also been trailblazers in the women’s football game, with four All-Ireland titles already to their name.


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Locals posing with the Sam Maguire in the village of Shrule following Mayo's All-Ireland win in 1951.
©GAA Oral History Project


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A tick book used to mark the attendence of committee members of Balinrobe GAA in 1921.
©GAA Oral History Project

Terry Reilly
Paddy Muldoon

Terry Reilly, b. 1943

Terry recalls his early memories of the GAA and the influence that the All-Ireland winning Mayo team of the 1950s had on him as a journalist.
©GAA Oral History Project

Paddy Muldoon, b. 1941

Paddy talks about the history of Westport GAA and discusses the club's links with the republican movement of the early twentieth century.
©GAA Oral History Project

'The football boots, I remember... We didn't even have the boots. Times were rough in the fifties... If you knew a fella with a left foot you got his right foot boot if it fitted you. That's a fact. Things like that. Because we had nothing.'
- Mick Loftus, b. 1929
©GAA Oral History Project

'The advent of the Mayo women's teams has been most exciting as Mayo people have once again had the experience of winning All Irelands. The standard of women's football is very high, especially their ability in taking scores. I think many of the male players have got afraid of missing scores and are not adventurous there.'
- Anthony Jordan, b. 1942
©GAA Oral History Project

'Bhí dhá chreideamh i mBéal Átha hAmhnais, cé go raibh mise sna fichidí nuair a chonaic mé Protastúnach ariamh. Bhí eaglais an pharóiste ansin ag ceann an bhaile, ag an ceann eile den bhaile, bhí mainistir na nAgaistínigh; ba chosúil gur dhá chreideamh éagsúil iad…Bhí dhá chóir againn; bhí cóir ag sagairt an pharóiste, bhí cóir ag na hAgaistínigh. Bhí dhá chumann drámaíochta againn. Bhí feis amháin againn, á reachtáil ag sagairt an deoise;  bhí feis eile, nó aeiríocht ag na hAgaistínigh. Bhí dhá misean againn in aghaidh na bliana. Caitlicigh iad gach duine ach ba chosúil gur dhá sect éagsúil iad ag an am. Só bhí foireann peile ag na hAgaistínigh chomh maith le haghaigh na buachaillí a bhí ag feithil ar an Aifreann agus mar sin de.'
- Joe Kenny, b. 1932
©GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnaire: Sean McManamon, b. 1939