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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project


gaa oral history project

As Secretary of the GAA from 1895 to 1898, Dick Blake from Navan oversaw the overhaul of Gaelic football, standardising the size of the ball, introducing linesmen to assist referees and fixing a goal's value at three points instead of five. It is not surprising that the sport that Blake did so much to shape should be the one most favoured in his native county. Gaelic football was enthusiastically played and followed in Meath from the early years of the GAA, yet it was not until the post-Second World War period that Meath finally claimed a first All-Ireland title. The first came in 1949 and was followed up by another title in 1954. The strength of Meath football during this period was further underlined by the county’s achievement in winning five provincial titles in the seven years between 1947 and 1954. The 1960s brought another All-Ireland football title to Meath and the successful team travelled to Australia in 1968 to compete against an Australian Rules selection. This tour, which followed an Australian visit to Ireland the year before, laid the foundation for the international compromise rules game that was officially established in the mid-1980s. In Meath, however, the 1980s are best remembered for the county’s re-emergence as a powerhouse in Gaelic football. From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, the county won four All-Ireland titles, all of them under the charismatic stewardship of Dunboyne-man Seán Boylan. The massive levels of population growth that Meath experienced in the late 1990s and early 2000s has had a visible impact on the GAA in the county. As clubs expanded and membership increased, the Meath experience served to underscore the continued importance of the GAA to a changing Irish society.


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Captain Brian Smyth holds aloft the Sam Maguire after Meath's 1949 All-Ireland win.
©Hogan Stand


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A publication by Peter McDermott detailing Meath's trip to Australia in 1968.
©Peter McDermott

Michael Connaughton
Peter McDermott

Michael Connaughton, b. 1942

Michael describes the atmosphere at one of the first meetings of St Brigid's G.F.C in the early 1960s.
©GAA Oral History Project

Peter McDermott, b. 1918

Peter recalls an on field incident between a friend and the local priest who was known for his republican leanings.
©GAA Oral History Project

'When the local team won it was always a great source of pride in Duleek, everyone in the village came out to celebrate and a band always played on the back of an articulated truck parked on the village green – everyone made speeches, there was always dancing and drinking on the village main street.'
- Frances Fahy, b. 1979
©GAA Oral History Project

'I'll never forget the year 2000... we won our first ever senior championship. To me that was the greatest day in the life of the club [Dunshaughlin] because... two or three years prior to that, we never saw ourselves as senior champions in this county renowned for football... and we achieved that.'
- Paddy O'Dwyer, b. 1945
©GAA Oral History Project

'I remember the Cork Meath, the '88 match, making a flag the size of the kitchen floor and saying 'Meath are magic, Cork are tragic' and coming out and crying. And up until three years ago I forgot why I didn’t like the colour red.'
Maria Kealy, b. 1984
©GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnaire: John Gleeson, b. 1974