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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project

Westmeath

gaa oral history project

The GAA was born into a diverse and thriving sporting culture in Westmeath, where sports such hunting, polo, rugby and cricket were already keenly pursued. Indeed, a GAA county board was not formed until 1891 and, initially at least, the county defied the national experience by experiencing an actual growth in club numbers.  This changed in the mid-1890s and it took the re-establishment of the county board in the early 1900s to restore momentum to the local Association. Across the decades that followed, such success as the county enjoyed came in the junior grades. A first All-Ireland Junior title was won in 1929 and this achievement was matched by the county junior hurlers in 1936. Unfortunately for Westmeath, the winning of Provincial Minor titles in 1939, 1952 and 1963 failed to translate into adult success; the reason for this were many, but they included high levels of emigration which deprived the county of many of its best players. In the 1990s, against a brighter economic backdrop, the county did manage to bridge the gap from minor to adult success.  Following on from the winning of minor and under-21s Leinster and All-Ireland titles, Westmeath clinched its first Leinster Senior Football title in 2004.  A Christy Ring cup for the county’s hurlers the following year, marked a successful period in the county’s history.

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A Street League match in Mullinager during the 1970s.
©GAA Oral History Project

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An entry from Coralstown GAA's minute book in 1949 proposing a dance for the club.
©GAA Oral History Project

Geraldine Giles
 
Paddy Flanagan

Geraldine Giles, b. 1967

Former president of the Ladies Football Association, Geraldine Giles talks about Westmeath ladies' appearance on the Late Late Show on the eve of the 1987 All-Ireland final. 
©GAA Oral History Project


Paddy Flanagan, b. 1930

Paddy recalls a unique incident in the 1967 Westmeath county final between Tubberclaire and Ballynacargy during which time he was county secretary.
©GAA Oral History Project

'I often came in, threw me cap in and the uniform jacket at seven o'clock, and was down at the market square for half seven to go out to train. And that has been, all my life I knew nothing else, and was interested in nothing else, only hurling and football. And wherever there was a ball hoppin' I was there.'
- Terry O'Dowd, b.
©GAA Oral History Project

'Travelling to club games in the 80's was great. I can recall going to a game in Drumraney (near Athlone) in a Granada estate car and 11 of the team were in that car.  A panel of 21 and 3 selectors arrived in three cars!! Now you wouldn’t see that today!'
- Enda Kiernan, b. 1970
©GAA Oral History Project

'The teams togged out in local pubs. Cusack had no dressing rooms at the time. The town band paraded the teams around the field and when victorious local ladies would extol the wins. Sometimes wins were celebrated with excess consumption of alcohol – much to the annoyance of the Parish Priest.'
- Séamus Ó Faoláin, b. 1947
©GAA Oral History Project

Click here to read a sample of a full length questionnaire: Eddie Martin, b. 1936