In the first of a new series of extracts from Paul Gannon’s ‘Gaelic Sporting History’,
The seeds for Pride In The Parish were sown in 2004 when I became aware that my native club, namely, Renvyle GAA, was in its seventy fifth year of existence, a milestone that I felt should be marked in some manner or means. On a personal level, l had been deeply immersed in the affairs of the club throughout the preceding twenty years and had built up a treasure trove of nostalgic memories of a sporting, social and administrative nature, within the whole experience. My initial idea was to write a club history of Renvyle GAA in collaboration with a History Sub-Committee from within the club, but the latter didn’t materialise, so I took some more time to reflect a little longer on the idea.
It turned out to be time well spent in the sense that it culminated in a realisation and appreciation on my part, that the gaelic sporting experience encompassed many more elements, dimensions, organisations and ultimately sports, than I had originally given it credit for. With this in mind, I subsequently decided to refocus my energies, not just on a local club unit within the GAA but rather, on the collective gaelic sporting experience of the entire ecclesiastical jigsaw piece that is the catholic parish of Letterfrack-Ballinakill. This decision presented me with a far greater challenge than I had initially envisaged, but eight long and laborious years later, I am satisfied that I have chartered the right course, in terms of the final product.
Heritage conservation is at the heart of the project as I wanted the people of my native parish to become acquainted with, to appreciate, to take pride in and ultimately to feel a strong sense of ownership, of their own gaelic sporting legacy. I also wanted to dispel the myth that the latter is the sole preserve of men. Women and children may not have been at the coalface of the local gaelic sporting scene for the same duration of time as their adult male counterparts, but nevertheless, they have every entitlement to be equally proud of the immense contribution that they have made to the whole process within a shorter and more recent timeframe. The true embodiment of any parish lies in the intertwined lives of its people, be they indigenous natives or non indigenous persons who were destined to become permanent residents, and bearing this in mind, Pride in the Parish seeks to acknowledge and affirm equally, the contribution of all of the above, both at home and abroad, to the gaelic sporting heritage of Letterfrack-Ballinakill parish.