Five Mayo stories selected for landmark GAA Grassroots book

PJ Cunningham who has collected the stories from GAA people around the country and further afield.

PJ Cunningham who has collected the stories from GAA people around the country and further afield.

Five stories from Mayo 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 Mayo GAA. Well-known broadcaster and journalist Michael Commins recalls a celebrated case where seven young fellas from Garrymore spent a week in Sligo Jail for playing GAA.

Glenamoy native Pat Healy’s story of providing his club with a less than flat pitch is as hilarious as it was daunting to opponents. It was said that neither goalie could see beyond the mound in the middle, but it served a purpose until proper facilities were provided by the fledgling club.

In another amusing tale, journalist Aonghus Ó Maicín enthrals with a story of how an enterprising management team got around their u14 goalkeeper’s lack of inches for a final with a rival club. Martin Fizpatrick’s vignette on a referee left in an invidious position has an amusing resolution which worked for all on the wet day that was in it.

Art Ó Súilleabháin remembers a day in his teaching life when the voice and sheer presence of former RTÉ commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh transported them to the land of Tír Na nÓg. There is also a Mayo connection as Páraic McGrath, son of the late referee PJ, who now lives in Australia, writes about the spread of the GAA to the Far East and the antipodes.

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. The GAA has always been about more than just games, it is part of what we are", said GAA President, Larry McCarthy.

Grassroots: Stories From The Heart Of The GAA (Volume 1 ), priced at €19.99, is available now in all good bookshops. If you have a GAA anecdote or story you would like to share for Volume 2, contact PJ Cunningham at (086 ) 8217631 or at: [email protected].

 

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