Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook Comes of Age
The 1991 Yearbook was the twenty-first edition of the publication to reach the public. Twenty of these have been produced by committees of the County Board. The exception was the 1978 edition which was produced by a commercial company for the County Board. The production evoked so much criticism that this method wasn't tried again.
The first Yearbook appeared in 1970. Prior to that two editions of a commercial production came out in the 1960s. The 1970 Yearbook covered the events of that year and the same was the case for the 1971 Yearbook.
The third edition was called the 1973 Yearbook and that has been the practice since then with the Yearbook recording the events of the previous year. The exception of this practice was in 1984. The 1984 Yearbook covered the events of 1983.
When it came to the production of the Centenary Year book the committee decided it couldn't very well be called the 1985 Yearbook and called it the Centenary Yearbook. So if you are a collector there are no 1972 and 1985 Yearbooks.
On the matter of collection, to be the owner of all twenty-one editions would be to have a very fine collection indeed. I know of three people with such a collection and if there are more they should cherish and mind the same.
The first editor was Gerry Slevin of Borrisokane, then reporting Gaelic games for the "Guardian" and now the editor of that newspaper. The first edition cost 5/- or 25p. and had eighty-four pages. The 1991 Yearbook contained 184 pages and cost £4.
Gerry Slevin continued to edit the Yearbook up to and including 1977 when he moved to the "Clare Champion".
There was a problem with the 1978 edition and it was eventually produced commercially.
As a result of the outcry against the 1978 edition the County Board set up a proper Yearbook Committee under the chairmanship of Seamus O'Riain and secretary, Martin O'Connor. (Seamus O'Riain had been the inspiration behind the first Yearbook, having been county chairman at that time). The joint editors were Bill O'Donnell (Divot) and John O'Grady (Culbaire). The remainder of the committee included present county chairmen, Mick McGuire, Patrick Mullins, Seamus Leahy and Patrick McLoughlin. The set-up established in that year has remained essentially the same to-the present.
The first seven editions of the Yearbook were printed by the "Guardian" newspaper. The 1978 edition was printed in Dublin. Under the new Yearbook Committee the "Limerick Leader" did the printing in 1979 and 1980. There was a move to the Wellbrook Press, Freshford in 1981 and they printed the book until 1986. The latter year saw the first introduction of colour. There was a move to the "Kilkenny People" in 1987, when the Yearbook calendar made its first appearance, and the printing has been done there since.
In his forword to the first edition, county chairman, Seamus O'Riain stated the aim of the Yearbook as follows: "In these pages we try to recall to our readers the highlights of the G.A.A. year in Tipperary". That aim remains essentially the same to this day. What the years have seen has been a more extensive coverage of these highlights. Many readers will recall the saturation coverage given to the All-Ireland victory in the 1990 edition.
The coverage has also been extended to handball, camogie and Scor. It would be true to say that the Yearbook today is very much a comprehensive record of everything that took place in the county during the year. So much is done every year to improve the comprehensivenes of the production. The results section will be a valuable source of information for future historians. Another section that has grown in latter years is the obituary notices. In the 1991 edition there were no less than 27 entries.
Results and accounts of matches can be boring. Another aim of the committee is to include special articles on G.A.A. history and personalities from the past. In the 1991 edition there were articles on Jimmy Kennedy, the Walls of Carrick and two historical pieces on the election of Paddy O'Keeffe as Secretary of the G.A.A. in 1929 and on Emly men in Hayes's Hotel at the 1884 meeting. Such articles extend the appeal of the Yearbook and give it an extra value.
There is one aspect of the Yearbook that has improved out of all ends - the photographic coverage. The first edition in 1970 had twenty-four pictures in all, less than camogie alone received in the 1991 edition. The latter Yearbook has nearly 350 pictures, surely an incredible number. Whereas many of them are formal poses of teams, quite a number are delightfully informal. On page seven there is one of the three selectors, Donie, Babs and John O'Donoghue, staring at something with their mouths open. There's another of Nicky English and Fr. Mick O'Brien after the Munster final with Nicky very much in need of a tan. There's a great one of the Senator on page fifteen and one of a very perplexed senior football team on page twenty-five, and who would blame them!
Finally, there's Sean O'Driscoll, that inimitable collector of G.A.A. bric a brac, who has been giving us bits from his collection for the past few years. He gives a decade by decade view of things G.A.A. For instance he tells us in the 1991 edition that the crossbar was lowered from ten feet to eight and throwing the hurley was made illegal in 1901.
Overall, an emporium for the G.A.A. enthusiast, a collection of records for the future historian and a very healthy publication going on twenty two years old.
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1992, pp 140-141