Recent and Forthcoming Publications - 2011
Local G.A.A. publications are scarce on the ground this year. Jimmy Morris got the ball rolling with the launch of The Morris Code at the Hibernian Hotel, Nenagh on September 30 with no less an eminence that the president of the association, Christy Cooney, to do the honours. Born in Borrisokane, Jimmy immersed himself in the G.A.A. in his native parish, first as a player and later as an administrator before moving to Nenagh in 1964 where he continued his involvement with the Eire Óg club. Throwing in his lot with his new club was natural because, as he says in the book 'Nenagh would now be my home and I felt it only right and proper that whatever I had to contribute, be it little or great, should be given to the club attached to the town where I now lived.' This personal memoir is about Jimmy's attachment to the G.A.A. over many years – he is now 81 years of age – but it's also about what the G.A.A. has done for people and communities all over Ireland.
This book is a lively read, written in conjunction with Gerry Slevin, it started out as an article and evolved into a book and is on sale for €20. It is published by the Nenagh Guardian.
A significant publication is the history of the the Galtee Rovers/St. Peacaun's Club, which was launched on December 4. Too late to review for this publication, it is the work of Seamus McCarthy and Liam Bergin. The significance of this book is that it includes portraits of a number of national figures, such as St. George McCarthy, who was one of the founders of the G.A.A.. William Cullinane, who was an M.P. and an early referee in the G.A.A., Darby Ryan the Bansha Bard, etc. The club is also the home of the famous referee, John Moloney, and the recently retired Governor of Mountjoy Jail, John Lonergan. As well the model for the Tipperary Hurler, the famous painting by Sean Keating, is none other than Ben O'Hickey, also from the parish. We look forward to the book.
On Friday, 11th December, 2009, too late for the 2010 Yearbook, the Cahir G.A.A. Club held the launch of its club history entitled Memories and Achievements, 124 years of the G.A.A. in Cahir. The launch was performed by Sean Kelly M.E.P and former G.A.A. President. A large crowd of present and past club members supported the function. There was a special welcome for John F. O'Donnell who had played such an important role in the revival of the club in the 1940s and had as a player and officer of the club made a lifetime's contribution to the club. His fellow life president Willie Kiely was also present. Willie also had played a significant role in club administration over many decades. Tom Kelly who was on the club's first championship winning team, i.e. the minor footballers of 1943, was also present. Indeed every decade of the club's history was represented by former players from the late 1930s to the present. The night was kindly sponsored by Gerry Enright, of Eurospar, Dungarvan. Gerry was a former club player and had also represented Tipperary in all grades of football and indeed was a Munster Railway Cup player.
The book was compiled by Colm O'Flaherty and Mattie Hussey from a variety of sources e.g. press-cuttings, minute books etc. Extensive use was made of the Thurles library local-studies facilities, where extracts from past local newspapers were accessed. The book also contained almost 300 photographs. However, a unique feature of the book was the contribution from captains of county winning teams. This ranged from John O'Meara, captain of the county minor winning team of 1953 to Liam Meehan captain of the county minor winning team of 2008. All these contributions were unique in their style and content and gave an insight into life during each period recalled.
The McNamee Award.
The value of the club's history was recognised at national level, with the award for "the best G.A.A. history publication 2009" As 2009 was the 125th anniversary of the founding of the G.A.A., there were significantly more entries in this category, so the award was all the more meritorious. The citation for the award was as follows
"As well as the men who wrote the background of the story of the presence of the G.A.A. in Cahir most recent decades were illuminated by the contribution of successive generations of players and officials."
From the lovely piece written by John O'Meara (who was born in 1936) to the brilliant funny gossipy contribution on the 2003 Tipperary senior football winning team, there is a wonderful chorus of opinions" it concluded.
Club representatives attended the awards night function in Croke Park, which was hosted by the G.A.A. President Christy Cooney. Club representatives were also guests of the G.A.A. at the inter-county games in Croke Park i.e. Dublin versus Louth and Kildare V Derry.
Secrets of Kerry . . . A Captain's Story: Celebrating almost a Century of Kerry All Ireland Triumphs 1903 – 2009 is a DVD rather than a book and that fact may make it all the more interesting.
For the past two and a half years, one of Ireland's most knowledgeable GAA experts, Award Winning Radio Kerry Broadcaster Weeshie Fogarty, together with close friend Christy Riordan, C/R Videos Caherciveen, have been working on a major project, the biggest GAA project of its kind, documenting the triumphs and near misses of Kerry's journeys to Croke Park since 1903, when Kerry won it's very first All-Ireland championship.
The project, a DVD set called Secrets of Kerry . . . A Captain's Story is now completed and was launched in Cáitíns Pub, Kells on Friday 22nd October and at The Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney Tuesday 26th October.
Each of the 36 Kerry wins and some of the near misses have been documented by the captains of the Kerry teams – in their own words – or in the words of their closest living relatives in a 4 hour documentary, that spans 2 DVD's of the highest quality production. The project includes some amazing stories with over 100 interviews in total – tales never heard before, well known legends brought to life and behind the scene dramas of the various journeys to the All Ireland, the battle on the pitch and what happened to the various captains after the cup was lifted, including the desolation of the near misses since 1903.
Fogarty and Riordan trace each of the 32 winning captains, 16 of whom are still alive. Of the captains that have passed on, their relatives recount their story after each of their famous wins.
Updating Club Histories
There has never been a better time for updating club histories. Many existing histories were written during the eighties and need updating badly. Toomevara are already engaged in updating their history which was brought out in 1986. So also are St. Mary's, Clonmel.
What makes the work so much easier today are the outstanding records that are available. Three of the divisions now have histories and they give the general picture of the story of Gaelic Games in their areas. They include the achievements of every club in a general way. The next important source are divisional reports, compiled by secretaries at convention time. They contain a wealth of information on games played in the division during the previous year. Of particular importance are the dates of games, which allow the researcher to go directly to the match report in the local newspaper. There are the local newspapers, whose coverage of games has expanded dramatically and, whereas every game won't be covered in detail, there will be some reference to every game. All adult games are covered in detail. Then there is the County G.A.A. Yearbook, which strives annually to give as comprehensive coverage as possible to all G.A.A. activity in the county.. Many clubs will have efficient secretaries who will keep a detailed account of what transpired during the year, but will also produce a comprehensive record of the club's achievements at convention time. Such reports can be another valuable resource. Since we live in a visual age any club history must include plenty of pictures. The club may be lucky to have a good snapper, who attends most of its games. If they are not so lucky we are blessed with many photographers in every division, who have comprehensive collections of photographs. Overall then the material for club histories is there in abundance. All that is required is someone with the ability to bring it all together in a decent club history. This might be the time to look around to see if you have such a person in your midst. There are many educated people around and some of them are unemployed.
One of the most important contributions to our knowledge of what is happening in the hurling world is The Agony and the Ecstasy by Damien Tiernan. This book provides an account of the emergence of Waterford as a major hurling force in the late 1990s and the endeavours of the county's hurlers to win an All-Ireland over the last decade. This is a tale of a team that produced outstanding displays, usually one a year, but were usually denied crucial victories by the narrowest of margins. Many may well believe now that some of the greatest hurlers of our generation may never win the elusive Celtic Cross. Tiernan's book recounts the many selectorial blunders, organisational cock-ups, misunderstandings, misfortune and inability to learn, which dogged the team. Because the book is based predominantly on the testimony of players, there are contradictory versions of events. What comes across is the sheer difficulty team management faces in melding into a single fighting unit the great variety of individuals who make up a county senior panel – people who differ in terms of age, experience, ability, personality, education, social background and urban/rural upbringing. The book seems to indicate that Justin McCarthy failed in this very task concentrating on what he regarded as his primary duty getting the players to master the skills of the game and performing them to the best of their abilities on the day of a match.
A related book is If you Don't Know Me, Don't Judge Me by Dan Shanahan. Dan Shanahan is a legend in modern hurling, a three-time All Star and winner of 'Player of the Year' in 2007. His time as an inter-county senior hurler coincided with the remarkable revival in Waterford's fortunes, which saw them win the Munster final four times in the last decade. He's probably best remembered for his refusal to shake Justin McCarthy's hand after being taken off in the Munster championship of 2008, though that episode me be eclipsed by his goal in extra time in the 2010 Munster final. The title of the book is taken from a tatoo on Dan's arm.
Another Waterford book is My Father: A Hurling Revolutionary by Conor Power. This is a biography of one of the greatest goalkeepers from one of the most golden eras of hurling, written from the perspective of his son, the journalist Conor Power. Many readers will recall seeing that great photograph of Ned Power overleaping Christy Ring to grab the ball in the 1959 Munster championship. Having played at the highest level from 1957 until 1966, Ned Power won one All-Ireland medal, three Munster medals, an Oireachtas medal and a National League medal with his native Waterford. But it was as a skills coach and motivator that he made a lasting impact on the hurling scene. From the very beginnings of formal coaching at Gormanstown in the mid-1960s, Ned was a revolutionary bringing change firstly and most dramatically to his native Tallow and then to many more places he visited.
Other books of interest include My Club by Christy O'Connor who followed St. Joseph's Doora-Barefield for a season in 2009 as they looked to re-establish themselves as force in Clare hurling. One of Clare's finest hurlers Tony Griffin tells his remarkable story and his gruelling charity cycle across Canada in Screaming at the Sky. 100 G.A.A. Greats by John Scally celebrates the most significant players the Gaelic games have brought us in their 125-year history. He selects those footballers, hurlers, managers and camogie players who have lit up Irish sport, becoming national treasures in the process, and highlights their remarkable skills.
For 16 years, Darragh Ó Se has worn the number 8 jersey for Gaelic football's most celebrated county. With six All-Ireland medals, he is the most decorated of the present batch of Kerry footballers. Darragh's name is synonymous with his county's unrelenting appetite for success, but throughout his illustrious career he has held his counsel, allowing his football to do the talking. He now claims to reveal all that his tight lips kept quiet over his playing career in Darragh: My Story.
Voices from Croke Park by Sean Potts is a series of articles by leading G.A.A. writers on great hurlers and footballers, who have exhibited their talents in the great arena. The emphasis is more on football and there is no Tipperary representative.
A special word of praise for Ger Corbett and company, who excelled themselves once again with their programme for the county senior hurling final. This publication gets better by the year and is a wonderful keepsake for the winners, Thurles Sarsfields.
Finally, many readers will be interested in GAA Gold, an important archive of All-Ireland hurling finals from the 1950s, which has been compiled by the Irish Film Institute from a series of films shot by the National Film Institute for distribution to cinemas.
The original films have been digitised and the sound clarified. The DVD will be of particular interest to Tipperary people as it contains four All-Irelands featuring Tipperary in the period covered, 1948 to 1959. This is the first of GAA highlights releases, and an equivalent DVD featuring football finals is due next year followed by similar discs covering the 1960s. GAA Gold is available from the IFI shop and all leading DVD retailers, priced €19.99.
A handy present for Dad or Grandad!
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2011, pp 104-107