Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of CLG in County Tipperary
The Tipperary county board took seriously the request from Croke Park that each county celebratethe 125th anniversary of the foundation of the G.A.A. in a fitting manner. A committee was set up to investigate appropriate ways in which the event could be honoured. The committee consisted of chairman, Seamus J. King, secretary, Liam Ó Donnchú and committee members John Costigan, Ed Donnelly, Sean Nugent, Seamus O'Doherty and Denis Floyd. At different times county chairman, Barry O'Brien, county secretary, Tim Floyd, and county P.R.O., Ger Ryan, sat in on discussions. On a couple of occasions chairman of the National 125 Committee, Jarlath Burns, and chairman of the Munster 125 Committee, Jim Forbes, attended.
The committee drew up a number of planned events for the year, the first of which took place on Saturday, February 14 This day commenced with an historic meeting of Coiste Bainistí in Hayes's Hotel at 9 am. It was followed by an Árd Comhairle meeting in the Davin Room of the hotel at 2.30pm. The Davin Room was decorated with items from the Lár na Páirce Collection There was a reception for the visiting dignitaries in the Dome at Semple Stadium at 5 pm and this was followed at 6.45 pm by the official opening of the newly-refurbished Semple Stadium and the turning-on of the floodlights by An t-Uachtaran, after which the National Hurling League game between Tipperary and Cork was played. The Thurles Gospel Choir provided entertainment at half-time. It was a very successful event with close to 10,000 people in attendance enjoying the novelty of hurling under lights on a clear, crisp night.
Lá na gClub
The clubs in the county were exhorted to remember the 125 anniversary in their own way by holding events on Lá na gClub, Sunday, May 10. The day was left clear of any interclub engagements so that clubs could hold a special celebratory day for their members.
One club, Grangemockler, had flagged their intention from very early on to celebrate the event in a very special way. The home of Michael Hogan of Bloody Sunday fame, the club organised a series of events on the weekend of May 16/17. Included was a wreath laying ceremony, the unveiling of a memorial to Michael Hogan by Christy Cooney, a lecture by Paul Rouse and Mark Duncan, a Bloody Sunday exhibition and an inter-county tournament with a hurling game between Tipperary and Kilkenny, and a football game between Kerry and Dublin. Unfortunately the events, speerheaded by Mick Pendar and an enthusiastic local committee, were severely hit by most unseasonable weather. The unveiling ceremony was postponed but was eventually performed on November 1. A full house attended the lecture but the matches had to be called off.
As a result of the county board making successful representations to Munster Council to have the senior hurling final played at Semple Stadium, regardless of the teams involved, the 125 committee set about building a number of events around the weekend of July 10/12. Thurles Town Council hosted a civic reception for Munster Council and Tipperary County Board members in the Tipperary Institute on Friday evening and this was followed by an Historical Presentation, chaired by Dr. Willie Nolan, in which Seamus Leahy gave a Personal Perspective on the Founding Members of the G.A.A., Corkman, John Arnold, spoke of Different G.A.A. Rivalries between the Counties of Munster, and Damian Cullen spoke of the Treatment of Hurling in Film.
Night at the Dogs
On Saturday there was a juvenile hurling blitz, a long puck competition and a special Mass. As well there was a Night at the Dogs, which included four races with a Munster hurling flavour and an inter-county dimension. At the same time there was a gig rig in Liberty Square.
One of the most exciting events was a torch run from the home of Michael Cusack in Carron, Co. Clare which started on Saturday with the torch borne by club members through the parishes between Carron and Thurles. The Clare clubs handed over to Limerick at the edge of the city and they in turn passed it on the the Tipperary clubs when they reached the county boundary. The torch arrived in Liberty Square on Saturday evening and the run continued from Hayes's Hotel to Semple Stadium on Sunday afternoon, arriving at 3-15 pm and the torch was carried into the stadium by Jimmy Doyle. The Munster final followed, before which the captains of the winning teams of the past twenty-five years were introduced to the crowd. The Artane School of Music was in attendance and provided entertainment at half-time. Earlier in the day they had played in Liberty Square. It added to the success of the weekend that Tipperary won.
The Mighty Blue and Gold
One of the most unusual events planned around the 125 celebrations was a song contest to find a new song to represent Tipperary, not necessarily to replace the inimitable Slievenamon, but to give a greater choice to the Tipperary supporter. In conjunction with Fran Curry and Tipp FM a good interest was generated, the entries were aired on the station, a short list of nine songs was agreed and the grand final was held in the Premier Hall at Thurles. The Roscrea song, The Mighty Blue and Gold by Seamus Doran, a rousing ballad, was declared the winner of the special prize of •1,000.
Probably the most lasting project of the 125 committee was the setting up of the Tipperary G.A.A. Archives Website, www.tippgaaarchives.com <http://www.tippgaaarchives.com/> Three people were responsible for this outstanding contribution to the G.A.A. in County Tipperary, P. J. Maxwell, Ed Donnelly and Mark O'Leary. P. J. Maxwell compiled a list of over 17,000 players, who have represented the county at championship level in hurling and football in all grades since 1886. The huge merit of this compilation is that it includes full christian names and club identification of all the players involved. Ed Donnelly compiled a list of Club Champions and Captains, which includes the divisional and county championship Roll of Honour for all grades in hurling and football from minor C to senior since each competition began. The name of the winning captain is included for over 75% of all county champions. Mark O'Leary set up the website and supporting database to make all this information easily accessible. The use of modern technology will ensure that not only can the information be easily searched online, the website can be updated in real-time and includes all teams and champions for 2009 to date.
Sean Gaeil Awards
The concluding events of the year included a wreath-laying ceremony at the Archbishop Croke Memorial in Liberty Square, Thurles and a speech by G.A.A. President, Christy Cooney, on November day. This was preceded by a special Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Clifford at Thurles Cathedral, and a parade of dignitories to the Croke Memorial. The presentations to the 2009 recipients of the Sean Gael awards were made in the Dome with an t-Uachtaran as guest speaker. On the evening before the postponed football match, between Cork and Tipperary, from the Grangemockler weekend was played under lights at Semple Stadium.
The final event was the laying of a wreath at the grave of Maurice Davin on November 26. This was done in comjunction with the Munster Council and included an oration delivered by Jack Ryan, the son of Seamus, who wrote the acclaimed biography of the first President of the G.A.A. The Munster Council used the occasion to heolf their mionthly meeting in the town.
Other events during the year organised by the committee included a Primary Schools ground hurling blitz in the Spring.The 125 committee also encouraged every club in the county to set up its own website. At the beginning of the year twenty-nine clubs had websites and Ed Donnelly made a template available to the remaining clubs so that they could set them up. As well clubs were encouraged to include their information on the club database in Croke Park. Twenty-seven clubs had provided data and the remaining clubs were to be targeted. Finally clubs were exhorted to get their histories written and, where they already existed, to have them updated in 2009.
At the end of the year the committee looked back with a certain amount of satisfaction at the success of their initiatives to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the G.A.A. Whereas it was difficult to assess the impact the events had on the public at large, there was a strong belief that most people in the county had at least heard of the 125th anniversary. The variety of events focused in different ways on the past, the present and the future of the Gaelic Athletic Association in the county.
There was an understandable emphasis on the origins of the association with the Torch Run from Michael Cusack's home in Carron, through the reading of Croke's letter to Cusack by Maurice Davin's nephew, Pat Walsh, at the Croke Memorial in Thurles and the wreath-laying and oration at the grave of Davin at Churchtown, Carrick-on-Suir. The Grangemockler Weekend also looked back to the past and the place of their native son, Michael Hogan, in the history of the G.A.A. while the lectures and talks sought to put the G.A.A. into perspective in the context of Irish society.
The celebrations were also very much about the present in the switching on of the lights at Semple Stadium in February with the first National Hurling League game, the Primary Schools' hurling blitz, Lá na gClub, when each club celebrated their achievements in their own parishes, the Munster final and the events surrounding the weekend, the hosting the first round of the Munster Club hurling championship at Semple Stadium and the presentation of the Sean Gael awards in the Dome.
And the future wasn't forgotten. Towards the end of the year the county board were drawing up the strategic plan for the future of the G.A.A. in the county over the next decade.The setting up of the extended Tipperary G.A.A. Archives website ensures that the achievements of the past will not be forgotten but will be available through modern technology to be accessed in the future by the public at large. The creation of club websites and the writing or updating of club histories will ensure that the achievements of the past will be available to club members in the future and, the existence of the Mighty Blue and Gold , will allow us to express in a new way our loyalty to the county in the years to come.
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2010, pp. 64-65