Worlds Biggest Sports History Project Comes to Tipp

The history of the GAA in Tipperary is the focus of a major history project about to be carried out.

The history of the GAA in Tipperary is the focus of a major history project about to be carried out.

The GAA Oral History Project is one of the biggest sporting history projects ever undertaken in the world and will leave a remarkable legacy for future generations.

Commissioned by the GAA and being carried out by a team based at Boston College-Ireland, the project is collecting a unique body of material that will ultimately be stored at the GAA Museum in Croke Park.

Already hundreds of interviews have been carried out across Ireland and overseas and an extraordinary collection of documents and photographs has been put together. Some of this material has already been used in the best-selling book, The GAA: A People's History which was written by the project's directors, Mike Cronin, Mark Duncan and Paul Rouse.

Now, the plan is to record the history of the GAA in Tipperary.

A researcher from the project, Regina Fitzpatrick, is coming to Tipperary this January. Regina is looking for people to record interviews with, including GAA members and supporters and anyone who has ever had any contact or involvement with the GAA.

In addition to recording interviews, andin order to reach the largest number of people possible, the GAA Oral History Project is also providing questionnaires for people to fill out or people can simply send the project a letter or email about the place of the GAA in their lives.

The ambition of the project is that people from every parish, from every club and from every school will contribute, either by doing an interview, filling out a questionnaire, writing a letter or donating material. The project also aims to collect the memories of the members of all the organisations under the umbrella of the GAA, including Ladies Football, Camogie, Handball, Rounders and Sc?r.

Regina said: 'We want to hear the opinions and stories of everyone. We want to develop an archive that represents every viewpoint on the GAA, good, bad and indifferent. You do not have to know a lot about the GAA or have a lot to say to take part. Without your help, your story and the story of your club, your school and your county cannot be told. Take this opportunity to get your club involved.'

'The interviews that are conducted and the questionnaires that are collected will allow current and future family members of participants to hear and see their ancestors, to view their handwriting, to learn about how they lived and the place of the GAA in their lives.'

'We are hoping to gather photographs, videos and recordings of the social life surrounding the GAA, whether they are of families having a picnic on the way to or from a match, of spectators at a match, of supporters on the train or bus to a match, of homecoming celebrations and commiserations, or of social events.'

'We are also hoping to collect posters, letters, songs, poems and prayers relating to the GAA. We would like material relating to social events organised around the GAA, records and minute books, correspondence and financial material from counties and clubs and anything which tells us the stories of the people behind the organisation – the jersey washers, tea makers, stewards, grounds-staff, ticket collectors, bus and car drivers, officials, coaches, managers, backroom teams, committee members, players and supporters.'

As this project is developing a digital archive, you do not necessarily have to donate the material permanently. The project will take the items on loan for a short time, digitise them and then return them. Some of the material that has already been collected can be seen on the website www.gaahistory.com.

The project also hopes to involve as many primary and secondary school children as possible. Special curriculum-based packs have been designed to help teachers and students who wish to take part.

Finally, the project is looking for people to volunteer to help carry out its work.

For further information on any aspect of the project, please contact Regina on 01 6147454 or contact the office of the GAA Oral History Project Team on (01) 662 5055. Alternatively you can write to the project at GAA Oral History Project, 42 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, or send an email to info@gaahistory.com.