While Gaelic Games are being enjoyed by an ever increasing number of people around the globe, it is often the support network offered by the GAA’s international clubs that makes Irish emigrants seek out these little pieces of Ireland abroad.
To coincide with the successful International Rules Series in Perth, An Uachtarán Cumann Luthchleas Gael, Liam Ó Néill and Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Jimmy DeenihanT.D., yesterday (Sunday, November 23) launched a new resource designed to offer additional support to Irish people making the transition to life in Australia whether by choice or through economic necessity.
The ‘Striving and Surviving in Australia Guide’ was developed by the GAA’s Community & Health Department in Croke Park following extensive consultation via questionnaire with members in their Australasian club network. The accompanying wallet card aims to highlight key issues you should be aware of if travelling through or moving to Australia. It includes top tips from Irish people who have already gone through this experience as well as links to social media sites and other services designed to support the Irish Down Under. All GAA members applying for an international transfer to Australia will be given a copy while all clubs in Australia will be issued with a digital version of the resource for distribution amongst all members and the local Irish community.
The GAA President stated that “The Association recognised the need to support the excellent pastoral care our international units deliver to their members and the newly arriving Irish overseas. We hope the information will prove useful to any Irish person moving to Australasia regardless of their links to the GAA.
Minister Deenihan added: “This resource is a wonderful initiative which will enhance the health and wellbeing supports available for Irish people living abroad and it underlines the central role being played by the GAA in our overseas communities.”
This role was reinforced by the research into the Irish diaspora published recently by the Clinton Institute in UCD highlighting the invaluable social, emotional, occupational and recreational support offered by GAA clubs abroad. The report highlighted that “whether in Australia, Asia, or Argentina, the GAA has replaced the Irish pub as the central cultural hub through which all generations of Irish meet, network and “share their lives” and that the GAA “is a striking instance of an organisation that is adapting successfully to the shifting vectors of diaspora networking and need.”
A more in-depth resource for the Irish abroad including tips on how international GAA units contribute to the health and wellbeing of their members is being developed and will be available on GAA.ie. This will include a personal testimony from Aidan Greene whose son Davie died in Australia in August 2012 following an unprovoked assault. It is hoped to develop additional resources specific to other high traffic international locations for Irish emigrants and GAA members.