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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project


gaa oral history project

Within a year of the establishment of its county board in 1887, thirty two clubs were active across Monaghan – a rate of progress that, in Ulster, was only eclipsed by that of Cavan. It is even claimed that the Inniskeen club had been founded in 1883, a year before the foundation of the Association itself. Like much of the rest of the country, the GAA in Monaghan suffered decline in the 1890s, but a vibrant club scene developed in the early twentieth century. With the Castleblaney Faughs club in the local ascendancy in the years which followed the establishment of the Irish Free State, Monaghan would enjoy one of its most successful eras. Ulster titles were won, for instance, in 1927, 1929 and 1930.  The GAA struggled in Monaghan in the decades that followed, its efforts undermined by the scourge of emigration, with the county losing 10% of its population between 1956 and 1961 alone.  Despite this haemorrhaging of people, those who remained came together to win a junior All-Ireland title in 1956.  In the 1970s and 1980s, improvements off the field were matched by success on it. Monaghan would bridge a gap of more than forty years to regain the Ulster title in 1979 and though further titles were added in the 1980s, senior All-Ireland football honours continued to elude the county. In the 1990s, however, the county’s hurlers secured a junior All-Ireland hurling title, while the Monaghan Ladies’ won the senior All-Ireland titles on two occasions.


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Camogie players from Toome GAA take a break during a game.
©Toome GAA


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A list of rules and bye-laws for a summer street league in Monaghan in 1922.
©GAA Oral History Project

Paul Swift
Pat McEnaney

Paul Swift, b. 1965

Paul recalls an incident involving jerseys the night before the first county final in Monaghan between Monaghan Harps and Aghabog.
©GAA Oral History Project

Pat McEnaney, b. 1961

Pat talks about the amalgamation of local rivals Corduff and Carrickmacross at underage level in his time and the different perceptions of players from the country and those from the town.
©GAA Oral History Project

'When I was younger, I remember coming across a photo of the local hurling team in the newspaper and looking at the names underneath. I recognised several of the local Patrician Brothers but the names under the photo didn't match! When I enquired about this, I was told that they weren't supposed to be playing hurling and that they had to play under 'assumed' names!'
- Marriane Lynch, b. 1959
©GAA Oral History Project

'I walked 3 miles to practice and back. The field was very uneven. The game of football rough and physical. Our shorts were very long and jerseys had long sleeves. Not many people came as spectators. The football was very heavy when it got wet as it absorbed water.'
- Maurice Coyle, b. 1940
©GAA Oral History Project

'I would have been one of the first in our end to get a car and I remember I used to - there was meself and the brother - we'd start off, go over and pick up Brian Coleman - that's three - go up pick up two Hughes - that's five - up to the crossroad - there could be two or three Donaghys standing on it - and you got as many in as you could and headed off. And had we had anything happen Toome wouldn't have been fit to field a team that day cause half of us would have been missing.'
- Enda Quinn, b. 1957
©GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnaire: Bill Lynch, b. 1951