GAA marks centenary of ‘Gaelic Sunday’

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The Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) marked the weekend’s centenary of ‘Gaelic Sunday’ with commemorative events at clubs across Ireland and abroad and a special colour parade at Croke Park.

Gaelic Sunday was a seminal moment in the history of the GAA when clubs were galvanised in a defiant and peaceful protest against a clampdown and disruption of Gaelic games activity by British authorities.

In 1918 the British were intent on suppressing Irish nationalism and its opposition to conscription for their military adventures. They saw the rising popularity of Gaelic Games as a contributing factor to that.

Several flashpoints had occurred in the summer of that year and came to a head after an Ulster football semi-final between Cavan and Armagh was forcibly disrupted in Cootehill, Cavan on 7 July.

The response was an order from the head of the GAA of the time, Luke O’Toole, for every club and parish to hold a GAA activity at 3pm on Sunday, August 4, 1918.

As a result, some 50,000 people played in more than 1,000 matches involving hurling, football and camogie and were watched by an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 people.

The success of Gaelic Sunday helped ensure the threat to the playing of Gaelic games was lifted.

GAA Clubs in the US, the Middle East and Britain held events last weekend under the banner of the Gaelic Sunday anniversary.

There were re-enactment matches between clubs who played this weekend in 1918 such as Edenderry and Rhode in Offaly. History talks, parades, family days and blitzes were held among clubs in all four provinces.

GAA President John Horan said: “Gaelic Sunday was a crucial moment in the early history of the GAA and cemented the importance of clubs in their community.

“The legacy created is the vibrant Association that we have today where clubs continue to be the focal point of their local communities and people continue to be inspired to celebrate and play our native games.

“One hundred years on we honour the courage of the men and women who stood up for the right to play and support the GAA.”

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