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There'll be no shorrage of GAAbooks on the shelves this Christmas and there'll be lots to savour.
But one particular collection of stories from the membership of the GAA is a bit special and certainly no ordinary book.
GAA Grassroots – Stories from the heart of the GAA – has been compiled by former Irish Independent Sports Editor PJ Cunningham and is the result of almost two years of work having sifted through hundreds of submissions from GAA members at home and abroad.
The image on the cover is a map of Ireland with a dot for the location of every GAA club. There’s surely a great yarn in every one of those more than 1,600 clubs and PJ is on the hunt to find them. More than 140 stories are contained in the book and it is as much an oral history on the journey that the GAA has undergone as it is a collection of hugely entertaining reminisces from people with a very clear grá for the Association and its place in Irish life.
It is for this reason that PJ has done the GAA a great service as it acts as a reminder that we need to be so very careful that we protect our history and our story and preserve it for future generations. Some of the stories are from a bygone age – some of them actually predate the formation of the GAA in 1884. Some of them are detailing the place that the GAA occupies among the Diaspora.
There are plenty from very modern times. But there is a timelessness to them all in that they are each a snapshot of what being a part of the GAA means to people. It is the personal touch that makes them special. GAA Grassroots is a veritable treasure trove of stories at club and county level – from the funny to the fabulous and the far fetched and everything in between.
Identical twins swapping places in a match at Croke Park, allegations that a boy dressed up as a girl to play in a camogie final in Westmeath and soccer international Niall Quinn’s unceremonious return to earth in the junior ranks with Eadestown in Kildare don’t even begin to represent the tip of the iceberg.
There’s a clue on the cover as it is called Volume 1 with PJ already in possession of a solid start with stories worthy of Volume 2 which we’ve no doubt will also be well received. GAA Grassroots by PJ Cunningham is published by Ballpoint Press