Seeking Grassroots Stories from the GAA

A major drive is being launched to source and publish for the first time GAA stories from the grassroots of the Association.

The collaboration between the Association and publishers, Ballpoint Press, aims to gather the most comprehensive treasure trove of Gaelic-related stories ever compiled in the 136-year history of the GAA.

Ballpoint Press is an Irish publishing house whose recent work includes the collected stories of Billy Keane and the biography of Offaly legend Seamus Darby.

It produced a similar collection of reminiscent stories to mark the 70th anniversary of Rural Electrification back in 2016.

As well as the four corners of Ireland, stories will also be sought from across the globe, in particular from those who have been GAA frontier people in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and many other countries.

The story gathering will include oral accounts so that all kind of stories can be written down for the first time in book form and also feature in the GAA’s archives at Croke Park.

Potential contributors who feel they have a story but may not feel up to writing it can get in touch with Ballpoint Press and relate their account. It will then be written and sent back for approval before being submitted for final publishing.

This project and the resulting publication will complement the work undertaken by the GAA’s Oral History Project, which was commissioned in 2009 as part of the Association’s 125 celebrations.

The President of the GAA, John Horan, said he welcomed the exploration through the GAA grassroots to find the diversity of stories that undoubtedly exist there.

“The grassroots is the lifeblood of our organisation and it is timely that that such an undertaking is finally going ahead. I’m delighted because it means that there will be a permanent home for these stories in both book form as well in our own GAA archive section.”

Well-know journalist and author, PJ Cunningham, will spearhead the undertaking alongside GAA Communications Director, Alan Milton.

“GAA is a way of life for most Irish people at home and abroad,” said Cunningham. “It is packed with diverse stories from on and off the pitch. I grew up listening to them and enjoying their re-telling but the reality is that many of these stories exist only in word of mouth form.”

“At present we all have a bit more time to commit such stories to paper so that they can be preserved for future generations.”

“We are looking for ordinary stories from the grassroots with twists and turns rather than plain historical accounts about clubs themselves or ancestors who just won medals or became famous. This is not a collection of how clubs were founded or run but about the people in them. Each club has written its own history – this collection is seeking the yarns and the exploits of its members on and off the field from times past right up to the present.”

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