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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project

Waterford

gaa oral history project

Despite its present reputation as a hurling stronghold, Gaelic football was initially the preferred Gaelic sport in Waterford: the county was one of only nine to compete in the inaugural All-Ireland football championship in 1887. The development of the national rail network was crucial to the early progress of the GAA and this was no more evidence than in Waterford. For instance, the town of Dungarvan boasted extensive rail links and played host to several All-Ireland hurling finals during the early twentieth century for that very reason. In Waterford City, meanwhile, the development of hurling was assisted in the 1920s and 1930s by the work of schools and establishment of new clubs such as Erin’s Own and Mount Sion.  All of this fed into the securing of a first Munster hurling title in 1938. A second provincial title came a decade later and it was accompanied by the county’s first All-Ireland triumph. Unfortunately the county’s second All-Ireland in 1959 did not pave the way for further success and it was not until recent decades that Waterford again re-surfaced as serious contenders for Provincial and national honours. But the hurlers of Waterford were the not alone in building a profile for Gaelic games in the city and county. The women footballers also blazed a trail of glory, winning a remarkable five All-Ireland titles during the 1990s.

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Sods of blazing turf lead a parade into Touraneena following Sliabh gCua's Intermediate Hurling Final victory in 1980
©GAA Oral History Project

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A poster for the camogie All-Ireland final between Antrim and Waterford c.1940s. Antrim were the eventual winners.
©GAA Oral History Project

Pierce Butler
Finbar Spring

Pierce Butler, b. 1925

Pierce recalls a story about stealing apples from an orchard to eat during a match in Lismore in the 1930s.
©GAA Oral History Project



Brother Finbar Spring, b. 1938

Brother Finbar tells two different stories about handball during his time in St Augustine's College.
©GAA Oral History Project

'I am old enough to remember Michael O'Hehir on the radio on a Sunday. I remember going to a neighbour's house in 1963 to see the All Ireland on TV... We did not have television ourselves. The reception was very snowy and I spent most of the time saying the rosary... for a win. My prayers were not answered.'
- Mary Foley, b. 1952
©GAA Oral History Project

'The GAA gave us all a sense of purpose and it gave us many an hour of chat around the fireside discussing players, teams - both club and county - sometimes you make the sacrifices regarding your social life as a player, selector or club officer.'
- Sean Lennon, b. 1950
©GAA Oral History Project

'Leadership isn't about being popular, it's about doing the right thing and far from being popular it's about sometimes being prepared to take the unpopular decision, stand up for what is right.  And there will be no time in your career as a chairman of a club or any organization that that cross won't arrive, it will and you'll have to stand up and be counted and the most you can expect from that is respect and if you have the respect of the players that you're in charge of, and the respect of the club overall, they might not like you - a lot of them won't and that's right and correct - that's the nature of the life.'
- Tony Mansfield, b. 1939
©GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnaire: Mícheál Cronin, b. 1939