Three Limerick stories selected for landmark GAA Grassroots book

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THREE stories from County Limerick have been selected to appear in a 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.

PJ Cunningham

“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.

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“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 Limerick GAA. Author and poet Mae Leonard gives a personal insight into how she was sucked away from ‘the Isle’ of rugby to become a hurling wife to an All-Ireland-winning husband.

However, it is her social and cultural eye which makes her contribution a stand-out blessed trinity of stories woven into one narrative.

Big matches of the past century were so compulsive that young and old thought nothing of riding a bicycle for ten hours on a Sunday to be part of the occasion. Croom native Michael McDonnell’s ‘Last Charge Of The Bike Brigade’ preserves for posterity the journeys of triumph or disaster to far away places outside of Limerick.

John Kiely may be the messiah of Limerick hurling right now, but back in his playing days John Cummins remembers how he shared in an historic club football occasion within the county following a team bonding session of drinking and dances which turned out well in the heel of the hunt.

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,” said GAA President, Larry McCarthy.

“The GAA has always been about more than just games, it is part of what we are.”

Grassroots: Stories From The Heart Of The GAA (Volume 1), priced at €19.99, is available now in all good bookshops.