The Story of the Gaelic Games in Ulster

The Story of Gaelic Games in Ulster project was undertaken by the Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive, Armagh, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, in 2009. The project coincided with the 125th anniversary of the Gaelic Athletic Association and comprised a yearlong historical exhibition, a major national two-day conference on the history of Gaelic games, a series of quarterly events such as lectures in the Ó Fiaich Library and Archive, and a programme of outreach events on the same theme for adult and school groups around the province of Ulster and beyond. Between all of these aspects, the programme was delivered directly to more than two thousand people from all over Ireland and some from further afield, and many more read about it through promotional literature in various publications.

A legacy booklet has been produced to reflect the main aspects of that historical journey and is available here to download as a pdf document. It aims to provide a concise, informative and accessible narrative of the history of Gaelic games and the GAA in Ulster, as presented in the outreach project. It touches upon native traditions, major games, cultural dimensions, significant milestones, the political background, controversies and key personalities. Much of this content is based on fresh research and rare archival material from the holdings of the Ó Fiaich Library and Archive. The booklet is illustrated with a range of enlightening images from the library exhibition, many of which have rarely if ever been brought to public attention previously. The period between the establishment of the GAA in 1884 and 1959 is covered in most detail, for it is less familiar to most people and it is from then that most of the fascinating artefacts on display in the project exhibition originated. The last fifty years are outlined merely in a brief summary; when the 150th anniversary arrives there may be sufficient critical distance to examine them in depth.

The educational work of the project concentrated on Key Stage 2 of primary schools and was delivered as a series of half day workshops with children. The story of Gaelic games was central to this, however, that story and the artefacts employed from the Archive allowed a range of cross curricular themes to be developed. The workshops allowed children to explore maths, science, art, geography, cultural identity, history and languages well as benefiting for the story telling approach adopted by the workshop facilitator.

Cardinal Toms Fiaich Library
15 Moy Road
BT61 7LY
Northern Ireland

Tel: +44 28 3752 2981

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