Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Pride in the parish is the touchstone to which we always returnSeptember 12, 2012 - 9:18am
It was the caption on a recent photograph in this paper in the run-up to the All-Ireland hurling final that prompted this – a photo of a group of Galwegians gathered in London outside the pub where they would watch the match.
Nothing unusual in that because their county men and women were congregated in pubs and clubs all over the planet – at every hour of the 24 hour cycle – to see Anthony Cunningham’s charges take on the Kilkenny cats.
But it was the fact that their names were followed by their clubs – their Galway clubs, even though they were temporarily or permanently living in London.
Gathered outside the Man of Aran pub were Tommy Lally (Padraig Pearses), Enda Cassidy (Cappataggle), Mattie Lawless (Portumna), Conor Tannian (Ardrahan), Eugene McLoughlin (Caltra), Ambrose Gordon (Killimor) and Gerry Hennelly (Ardrahan).
Conor Tannian is a brother of Galway star Iarla, and Ambrose Gordon will be a name familiar to Galway hurling fans of the sixties as a young star of that era. But even though he’s been living in London for three-quarters of his life, he’s still Ambrose Gordon from Killimor.
Because, more than anything else, your place of origin defines you – and you can multiply that was a thousand when it comes to sport....particularly the GAA.
Pride of the parish is everything; it’s why multi-medal winning All-Ireland legends will tell you that they value every bit as much the Junior B title they won with the lads they went to school with, the lads that, by and large, wouldn’t make a county team in a century, but who would die for the club and the parish.
It explains too why supporters of rival counties still have the good grace to wish fans of the opposition the best of luck before a big match and offer congratulations or commiserations afterwards – because they know that you’re part of the team even from the Upper Deck of the Hogan Stand.
You watch an All-Ireland Final in Boston or Brisbane and you’ll see guys with their club and county jersey, still as attached to home – indeed maybe moreso – as they day they left for foreign shores.
There are legions of stories of Irish ex-pats heading to far-flung places, not knowing a solitary soul at the other end, armed only with a scrap of paper with an address on it or a mobile number for someone they’ve never met but who comes from home.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.