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Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project

Emigration: More Quotes

gaa oral history project

‘I lived in New York, so Gaelic Park was like the church to us almost. We went there every Sunday, year after year after year … actually I met my wife in Gaelic Park …you go there to hurl or football. There was a dance, there was a dinner, there was so much going on in Gaelic Park, and any given Sunday if there was any kind of a final, semi-final, you had close to 10,000 people there. Even all the Irish-American people used to go there; in fact, I shook Robert Kennedy’s hand in Gaelic Park.’
—Jimmy Fahey, 69, Tipperary and Connecticut
© GAA Oral History Project

‘At that time there was a lot of migration, and round this area they’d go to England on the 20th of June — what they’d call the hay farmers, they'd go into Lancashire … and once that would come, you’d hardly have a team left. Most of the young men would go, and even before that I remember some of them were afraid to play football in case they’d get hurt.’
—Paddy Weir, 86, Mayo
© GAA Oral History Project

‘I had to come home to play when I was in Bristol and Manchester, all the important matches. And there were plenty of times when I didn’t want to come home, they thought they were doing me a favour bringing me home. I was having a good time over there, playing matches over there, and the dances and all that sort of stuff on a Sunday night, Saturday night … I remember I was doing finals in an exam and I couldn’t get away, they were meeting every plane, coming in over Antrim, waiting on me getting off it.’
—Willie Cassidy, 74, Derry
© GAA Oral History Project

‘The major change is that when you live abroad (as I have for the last six years), you can find places with relative ease that can show the games. One can also tune into the local radio stations for league games or any games that are not televised. When Kildare are playing and I’m listening online, I like to also listen in to the local station of the county we are playing. Gives a great insight into how the opposition views us. It’s really interesting; sometimes it’s like listening to two completely different games! God bless local radio. My favourite quote from KFM — “Balls are dropping in on top of Ken Donnelly like confetti at a funeral!” We really enjoy our funerals in the Shortgrass.’
—Enda Gorman, 31, Kildare and London
© GAA Oral History Project

‘I played a match for Aer Lingus against the Irish College in Rome in 1971. This game had to played on a soccer pitch with the soccer goal posts.’
—Paul Connolly, 65, Kildare
© GAA Oral History Project

‘I think that Gaelic football would thrive in this country if … kids could watch it at home on ESPN … it’s too closed down to people that just come on a Sunday morning to see the games. If you were able to expose it on TV in people’s living rooms, it would be incredible what it would do for the game.’
—Paddy Coyle, 48, Tyrone and Connecticut
© GAA Oral History Project

'My only experience has been as a spectator. My uncle came to San Francisco with the All-Stars team about 25 years ago, and I went to the game they played here. In recent years I have gone to the Irish Center to see the All-Ireland. There is never a great "atmosphere" there … not many Kilkenny immigrants. I suspect the Irish Center here draws more of the football crowd, many “old Irish” from Kerry and Cork in San Francisco.'
—Sr Anne Maher, 60, Kilkenny and San Francisco
© GAA Oral History Project

'Then our attention turned to what was going on in the Junior Championship in Ireland. After beating Warwickshire in the British final, we had to play Dublin in the All-Ireland Semi-Final. This was played on a warm Saturday in July. This was an even more historic day for Gaelic football, and also Gloucestershire, as it was the first inter-county All-Ireland Junior football championship match to be played in Cardiff. Being realistic, we knew that we did not have much chance of beating a very good Dublin side, who had better games under their belts and had some very talented players with a very good manager in Mick Deegan. They also had former Dublin Senior Midfielder Darren Homan. He was on the bench.
   'Dublin were brilliant from the off and blitzed into a big lead before we even got our first score. However, even with the talent that Dublin had, we did manage to get some scores, and we even scored a goal. However, as expected, Dublin were far too good for us and went on to win easily. It was a big defeat, but for me it was a special day, as it was amazing to be part of a great squad who, even though we did not win the game, we played Dublin in our first All-Ireland Semi-Final.'
—Aidan Raftery, 33, Roscommon and Bristol
© GAA Oral History Project

'When I moved to the States I took part in the Louth football club. Through the football, I made many friends and was also able to find work. As I grew older, I tried to keep the club alive. We are a small county with not very high numbers emigrating from Louth. I found it a strain to find jobs for the boys, places to stay. Going to airports, meeting players. We had no cash and did not have a connection with unions or places where you could get work for lads out for the summer. Many times I found my house and my life overrun with players staying for periods of time. I just could not keep the team together, and Louth folded under my watch in about 1993. I regret it, because I saw so many players around after that that would have played for me.'
—Tommy Smyth, 64, Louth and New York
© GAA Oral History Project

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