Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Gaelic Athletic Association - Oral History Project

Religion: More Quotes

gaa oral history project

‘Back the years, it was hard to keep a club together without the full blessing of the parish priest. We have had a brace of clerical trainers in my time, and the church was always dedicated to the games. Nowadays, if not active, the priest is not given the honour of an administrative position.’
—Henry Bryan, 68, Offaly
© GAA Oral History Project

‘When I was young (e.g., under 10), supporting the local Duleek GAA club was practically a ritual each Sunday. The priest would always announce the match at the end of Mass and wish the team luck.’
—Frances Fahy, 29, Meath
© GAA Oral History Project

‘The present role of the clergy in my club is confined to the annual mass for deceased members, when four or five elderly priests arrive to officiate. Many camogie clubs, particularly in rural areas, were founded by members of the clergy. The priests supported the clubs and helped to keep them going.’
—Mary Moran, 67, Cork
© GAA Oral History Project

‘The clergy have been involved throughout. However, it has waned in recent years. The men of the cloth are no longer rich in GAA heritage and are busy in a more difficult, secular environment.’
—Liam Smith, 33, Kilkenny
© GAA Oral History Project

‘The local priest was instrumental in the forming of our club and continued to take a hugely active role when in the parish. Involvement afterwards for clergy was largely in a supportive role. There is a very good relationship between the local clergy and club, which is of mutual benefit. Twenty years ago, we had five priests in the parish of about 5,000. Today we have two priests for up to 8,000.’
—Eamonn Doyle, 65, Wexford
© GAA Oral History Project

‘It was brilliant. Going to the League Final on the same day as my confirmation was great! The Holy Spirit in the morning, the Holy Grail in the afternoon (almost, the Dubs beat us).’
—Enda Gorman, 30, Kildare
© GAA Oral History Project

‘Very few men or women from other faiths got involved in GAA. The priests saw the GAA as a vehicle for control and influence of people.’
—Joseph Gerard Burke, 54, Kilkenny
© 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 inquired about this, I was told that they weren’t supposed to be playing hurling and that they had to play under ‘assumed’ names! I know these weren’t their actual names, but they were registered with the club under assumed names! I don’t recall any priests actually playing football or hurling, but there was one St Louis Sister that played for the local team — she was originally from Antrim and had learned to play at an early age.’
—Marianne Lynch, 39, Monaghan
© GAA Oral History Project

‘I remember Fr Sean O'Neill used to play with the senior hurlers in the late '80s/early '90s, and that Fr Gerry Boyle used to get involved with training some of the underage teams. The current parish priest is a former county board chairman but, to the best of my knowledge, does not have a significant role in the club at present, which is probably how it should be. The priests seem to be interested but don't appear to get involved in a big way. A person should only get an administrative position if he/she has a proven ability or potential to make a positive contribution in the position. A collar shouldn't be factored in when weighing this up.’
—Pat Nolan, 26, Offaly
© GAA Oral History Project

‘We played then in Pat O’Toole’s, the pitch sloping gently from the road towards the lake. There was a sharpish little rise up to the road goals, in this rise Bobby Madine, the Bishop, the captain of the team ... His game plan was simple and effective. When the opposition mounted an attack, the Bishop concentrated his attentions on the ball carrier. To the two defenders on either side, his instructions were unnerving and clear: “You take the man, boys, I’ll get the ball!”
   'Arms outstretched, his impressive bulk showed the way. The ball carrier laboured up the slope. At the critical moment, as he prepared to shoot, Bobby launched himself upon him. The unfortunate was flattened, and Bobby came away with the ball wearing an expression [that said] … "Nothing to this game, lads, simple, just like life." So it was with the Bishop’s career in football: no shouting, no panic, no nonsense, just pure enjoyment. Knowing what we know now, it can’t have been all that easy to run a parish and a football team during the early years. But the Bishop did it, and our lives were enriched by his.’
—Hugh MacNamara, quoted in Michael Madine, Donal Gordon, and Tommy McLeigh, Loughinisland: Our Story, 1906–2006 (2008)

Take Part