Thirteen stories from Dublin have been selected to appear in a fascinating new book on the GAA – written by people at the heart of the association nationwide. ‘Grassroots: Stories From The Heart Of The GAA’, is a treasure trove of GAA memories, tales and incidents spanning over 150 years. “The book generated an incredible response from every county in Ireland, as well as from the Irish abroad,” said author and journalist, PJ Cunningham, who collaborated with Croke Park on the publication. “I have included stories not only since the GAA’s foundation in 1884, but from before, through to the Civil War and up to modern times.
“The collection is, in essence, the first time that this rich oral tradition of sideline and on-field stories have been put together and published in this form. “It provides snapshots into the history of the GAA, recounted by the people at the heart of the action, whether those stories are happy or sad, dramatic or ordinary.”
Volume one has just been published and such was the response from the GAA community that work has already begun on a second collection. The first edition includes stories from the rich history of Dublin GAA. Former All-Ireland winning star Keith Barr mischievously recalls how he sabotaged opponents’ footwear before big matches, while on a more serious note, there are gripping accounts of survival and death from the Bloody Sunday attacks from Crown Forces in 1921.
Oliver McMahon reveals something largely unknown in the death of Michael Hogan on that day – that his mother was there as Hogan’s girlfriend and only found out about his death later that evening.
How a 16-year-old would survive after being shot twice in the neck is recalled by the grandson of inner city dweller Christopher ‘Yarra’ Duffy, who would later go on to play for Dublin for nearly two decades.
Adding to this rich seam on the capital’s GAA front is the fascinating account by former Arnotts supremo Bill Kelly on the birth of sponsorship within the GAA, and the role Manchester United and soccer played in its development with the Dubs of the nineties.
Other contributors include former Irish soccer international Niall Quinn, Meath legends Sean Boylan and Bernard Flynn, Tony O’Hehir, son of the legendary Michael, former Galway hurling captain Joe Connolly, ex-Armagh player and manager Joe Kernan and RTÉ hurling analyst and former Offaly star, Michael Duignan.
“The folklore and stories that built up around our games are part of the reason that the organisation occupies such a special place in Irish society,” said GAA President, Larry McCarthy. “The GAA has always been about more than just games, it is part of what we are.”