Seven contributions about County Donegal appear in a compelling new GAA book written by those at the heart of the sport.
‘Grassroots: The Second Half’ is a gold mine of GAA tales spanning over 150 years and follows the publication of a successful first volume last year.
Collette Bonnar writes an amusing tale where her mother defied the common belief that Kerry would win the 1960 All-Ireland final, explaining only after she had collected her winnings, how she knew the result in advance.
There are several other Donegal-related contributions, one as Gaeilge and one in poem form, from Donal Ó Gallachóir and Moira Gallagher respectively, while Pádraig Carr, Rose Kelly and the inimitable Gerry McLaughlin, also offer telling contributions.
There are also contributions from the late John B Keane, who gives his views on junior referees and a separate story on different circumstances surrounding a Seamus Darby goal.
“The GAA and I were astounded by the response to the first edition,” said book editor PJ Cunningham, who collaborated with Croke Park on both publications.
“This collection is slightly different to the first in that as well as having the usual stories from the deep roots of rural society, there are also numerous stories where people from other sports and walks of life talk of their GAA experiences,” he said.
Former Irish rugby international Ollie Campbell, ex-snooker world champion Ken Doherty and Vienna-based opera singer Tom Birch, all explain how they became big fans of Gaelic games.
“Virtually no subject escapes in the 400 pages, with tales of a parish priest’s curse, referees officiating with watches which didn’t work to players taking ‘leaks’ on the field of play,” said Cunningham.
“All human life is in there whether it is going to and from matches or in one case, the story where a Kilkenny fan got locked into a well-known Dublin pub while his team won the All Ireland hurling final a mile away in Croke Park.
“This book 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, sensational or ordinary.”
GAA President Larry McCarthy said the book highlighted “the value of the folklore and stories built up around our games.
“What these two Grassroots books do is ensure they become available to a wider audience as most, if not all, of these stories are being published for the first time,” he said.
Grassroots: The Second Half, priced at €19.99, is available now nationwide and from: www.ballpointpress.ie.