Tracing the history of Galway GAA down through the years

The first phase of the County Galway GAA Digital Heritage Project, which will be launched this week, will involve presenting the history and heritage of five clubs - Kilconieron, Caltra, Tuam Stars, Annaghdown and An Spidéal as well as the history of handball and general GAA in the county in a digital format and putting it on the internet.

Cllr Tom McHugh, the Mayor of Co Galway, and Christy Cooney, uachtarán an Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, will launch the project at the Meadow Court Hotel tomorrow (Friday ) at 8pm.

It is a unique partnership project involving Galway County Board, the Heritage Section of Galway County Council, the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI ), NUI Galway and Galway County Heritage Forum.

The initiative aims to place Galway GAA sporting heritage at the heart of the life of the county through increasing awareness, enjoyment and knowledge of this very rich cultural heritage resource, say the organisers.

Brendan Smyth, education and community outreach officer, DERI, NUI Galway, who provided training and technical support to the clubs involved, says the project not only helps to improve the digital media skills of the clubs involved but also to showcase their “rich and wonderful heritage” in new and innovative ways.

The late Caltra man John Kelly was one of the club members who was heavily involved in the project. He attended the training sessions and collected, collated and annotated photographs as well as conducted interviews. His work, dedication and love of the GAA in Galway is what this project is about, stress the organisers.

“The result of all of the hard work of those involved in the project means that there are currently over 1200 photographs and over 70 interviews on podcast available on the website www.galwaygaaheritage.com The podcasts, include interviews of former officials, players and people connected to the club such as Pádraig Ó Céidigh, owner of Aer Arann and main sponsor of the Galway Senior Football team, former MEP Seán Ó Neachtain, and local historian Beairtle Ó Conaire all from the An Spidéal Club.”

Páid Ó Neachtain, cathaoirleach of the An Spidéal club, says it was an excellent project .

“It got us started in the collection of the clubs history and folklore. It has inspired us to keep collecting and we would hope to compile a full history of the club in the future.”

The photographs collected and uploaded on to the website are varied and give a good insight into the role that the GAA and those connected to it have played in the county over the past 126 years. Many of the photographs are annotated - once a viewer puts the cursor on the person on the photograph they are given information on that particular person.

Kilconieran club has an annotated photograph of the 1908 Senior Hurling Champions team as well as a photograph of an unusual medal that belonged to Padraic Naughton that had an inscription stating that the medal was for the County Galway Hurling Championship Senior 1912 and Intermediate 1911 won by Kilconieran Hurling Club.

Caltra Club has uploaded an annotated photograph of the 1955 Killasolan 7 a side and a 1930s photograph taken at the workhouse in Mountbellew of a tournament team. Among their collection are several photographs of painted boards, cars and a boat with slogans and words of encouragement for the Caltra team in 2003/4 when they were the All Ireland Football Club champions.

Marie Mannion, heritage officer, Galway County Council, says the project is a valuable digital heritage project.

“The photographs, interviews and materials collected have a lasting value and significance and the use of digital media allows a greater access to this valuable resource by all sectors of the community.”

All the 85 clubs in the county were also asked to put together a brief history of the club, a list of officers through the years and collect some pictures associated with the club and its past.

The organisers hope in time all 85 clubs in the county will document their history and that Co Galway will have a rich online digital sporting heritage resource for the future. It is also hoped to produce DVDs and further develop this digital resource.

They are urging people who have memorabilia, photographs or information that they feel would be of value to the project to e-mail them at [email protected]

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