Sligo GAA History 125 years 800 pages of it Launch


Sligo GAA 125 History

Official Launch by GAA Uachtarán Christy Cooney at Sligo Park Hotel

on Wednesday, 31 March, 2010, at 8.30pm.


Sligo County Board published its Centenary History in 1984. It was edited by John C. McTernan and published to mark the centenary of the founding of the GAA in Thurles in 1884. Last year the County Board decided to republish the Centenary publication and also add the history of the following twenty five years to mark the 125 milestone of the GAA. Modern scanning techniques allowed the original history to be proof read and the opportunity was taken to make amendments and add any new relevant information and photographs which had come to light in the meantime.

The History is the product of thousands of hours of voluntary endeavour, compiling, editing and proof reading. The vast amount of information available about the last twenty five years has resulted in the account of this period running to the same length as the account of the previous one hundred years. The book has eight hundred pages and the highest possible standards of accuracy have been adhered to. It was these standards that dictated the time of publication rather than any arbitrary date. The book will retail at €20.00 and will be available through all GAA clubs in Co. Sligo once the launch has taken place.

Every aspect of the GAA in Co. Sligo has been recorded in writing, by photograph and through a comprehensive statistics section. Each club in the county is represented by at least two full page team photographs. There are more than thirty county images with many individual photographs of players and officials.  The book also contains a full listing of all clubs that took part in competition over the one hundred and twenty five years.

Sligo was one of the first counties in Connacht to form a County Board and organise a county championship. The enthusiasm displayed in the early years could scarcely be surpassed anywhere. However once the initial zeal had subsided the GAA in Co. Sligo entered a time of changing fortunes with alternate periods of progress and decline. It experienced recurring teething problems in the first forty years or so arising, for the most part, from the unsettled political situation then prevailing but it always managed to resurrect itself from the brink of near collapse to become more active and vibrant than hitherto. The idealism and parochial pride of enthusiasts in every corner of the county ensured the continuation of a tradition that with the passage of time has become part and parcel of the folklore of the county.

The sporting careers of the many outstanding players the county has produced in football, hurling and handball are well documented.  There are accounts of Sligo’s three Connacht Senior Football Championship victories in 1928, 1975 and 2007 as well as an account of Sligo’s All-Ireland Junior Football Championship success in 1935 and the Nicky Rackard Cup Senior Hurling victory in 2008. There are photographs of these teams and the Ladies Football All-Ireland Junior Championship winning team in 2006.

Many important developments in the GAA are recorded. For example the introduction of the Qualifier system into the All-Ireland senior football championship in 2001 gave Sligo teams the opportunity to return to Croke Park after a long absence. Sligo played six senior football games there between 2001 and 2007 while not having played any at the famous venue between 1976 and 2000. Sligo hurlers also won the Nicky Rackard Cup final there in 2007. All these games are well documented in the book.

Great attention is paid to club competition in the various grades with the achievements of all the championship and league winning clubs being recognised. The last twenty five years has seen increased competition with a number of extra competitions being added and a massive increase in activity at juvenile and under-age levels. A number of clubs made major breakthroughs in the last twenty five years. Shamrock Gaels won two senior football championships while Bunninadden and Coolera/Strandhill came back into that particular winners’ enclosure after extremely long absences. Tubbercurry won a remarkable ten-in-a-row senior hurling championships while recently the emergence of the highly successful Calry/St. Joseph’s senior hurling team has been a feature.  In the Intermediate football grade a number of clubs celebrated their first championship success at that level. Schools football is also included with accounts of All-Ireland successes for Benada Abbey, St. Attracta’s Community School and the county Vocational Schools’ team.

There are many interesting anecdotes redolent of the times they occurred in. Read about Pat Kilfeather from Knocknarea, a school principal, who was County Secretary in the first decade of the twentieth century. It is said that his activities as County Secretary were well monitored by the Department of Education and it was not unusual for an Inspector to descend on his school at Kilmacowen on a Monday morning, after an away game in which Sligo was engaged, to satisfy himself, no doubt, that the principal was at his post on time. Pat Kilfeather and his colleagues refused to be intimidated in this fashion and continued in their work for the Association with greater resolve.

Read about the long serving County Chairman who resigned his post in disgust at a decision of the Central Council which denied Sligo the opportunity to play in its first All-Ireland Senior Football Final in 1923. Sligo won the Connacht Final defeating Galway and went on to defeat Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final. However a flimsy and belated objection by Galway was upheld by the Central Council which directed that the Connacht Final be replayed, a game which Galway won by two points. County Chairman Hugh O’Donnell from Gurteen was so disgusted that he immediately tendered his resignation as Chairman of the County Board and also withdrew from his membership of both the Central and Connacht Councils.

The book includes a photograph of Shane Filan in his role as a mascot with the Sligo hurlers on the occasion of their All-Ireland Minor Hurling (Special) victory at Croke Park in 1986. Shane, of course, has been back at Croke Park since then with Westlife and will return there again with the world famous quartet next June.

The great improvement in facilities around the county is noted with accounts of many official openings of parks and amenities. Foremost among these is the story of the purchase and development of Markievicz Park in Sligo. Formerly known as Ward’s Field, games were played on it in the early years of the GAA. A new Park opened at Finisklin in 1934 but this project failed in later years mainly due to financial pressures. In the late nineteen forties and early fifties a group of people came together and succeeded in purchasing and developing Markievicz Park which was officially opened by GAA President Seamus MacFearann (Antrim) in 1955. The pace of development quickened in the nineteen eighties and nineties with the laying of a top quality playing surface, new boundary wall and entrances on the Cairns Road side, new dressing rooms and covered stand, new terracing on three sides of the grounds and culminating in the opening of the extended covered stand on the Cairns Road side by GAA President Christy Cooney in June 2009.

Note: ‘Sligo GAA: A Centenary History’ published in 1984 was compiled by Christina Murphy, Johnny Benson, Sean McGoldrick and John C. McTernan (Editor).

            ‘Sligo GAA 125 History’ has been compiled by Rory O’Beirne, Jonathan Davey, Gerald O’Connor, John C. McTernan and Tommy Kilcoyne (Editor).

Comments and Discussion on this article:                          (+ Write a Comment)

Write comments about this article
Your Name:*