Brian O’Sullivan – Experience Gaelic Games
Last Sunday marked the official ending of the 2014 GAA calendar. It has been a year that promised much and produced much more. In more ways than one 2014 was a landmark year for the GAA abroad.
The exposure of Gaelic Games worldwide has seen a deep interest in participation across the globe; with new clubs stemming up in far flung locations. Here at Experience Gaelic Games we can see from the influx of visitors, from around the world, the universal interest our games now hold.
The streaming of matches on both GAA Go and Sky Sports has captivated audiences beyond Erins Shores. In time they will prove to be the benchmark of the ever growing following Gaelic Games is amassing. It has also been the inspiration to many to take up Gaelic Games regardless of the location.
Setanta Irelands production of Home From Home showcased how the GAA has grown in Toronto, New Zealand and particularly the middle East. It is the stuff Ml. Davin dreamed about in the infamous Gaelic Invasion of the USA in 1888.
The passion of those involved typifies the spirit of the games. So much so that The Peach Cup in Atlanta, Georgia is now as much sought after as the Kelleher Shield is in County Cork. The passion and tribalism is starting to take root. The GAA has officially gone Global.
One of the highlights in the production was the ever-growing non-Irish participation in our games oversees. The GAA is no longer seen as exclusively Irish. Three weeks ago the GAA in Britain advanced a stage further. Since the establishment of a GAA Governing Body on mainland Britain in 1896, it was Irish expats that kept the fire burning.
The wish in recent years was to see a native British Championship take fusion. In 2014 the Home grown British Final was won by St. Kierans (London) who overcame John F. Kennedys (Leeds) in the decider. The Gaelic ball has come full circle.
It is hard to imagine how far Gaelic Games has come with the recent developments in communications. So much so that someone in the Pacific Islands is watching The Sunday Game the same time as someone in the Wicklow hills or Aghabullogue!
Gone are the days when the Irish in London claimed to the top of Hampstead Heath with a clothes hanger and a transistor radio hoping to pick up the match on Radio Eireann. It was also in the town of London that the most daring act in the history of streaming Gaelic Games took place over thirty years ago.
Ambrose Gordon’s name has almost vanished from the Gaelic World; there was a time he was the most wanted man in Ireland and England! It was Ambrose that started the craze of bringing Gaelic Games to a worldwide audience.
It began on a rainy Thursday evening in Kentish Town, London in September 1981; when he observed a massive crowd in an Irish bar watching a recording of the All-Ireland Hurling Final from the previous Sunday. An idea came into his head that won him fame and fortune.
Every Saturday he flew to Dublin, got the game recorded on VCR and flew back to London on the first flight Monday morning. He copied the tapes again and again and sent them to every Irish pub within Greater London.
Monday night madness descended on Ealing Broadway, Camden Town, Cricklewood and Kilburn. The Irish came out in droves. Old men on sticks danced down the street after seeing their native County in action back home. The most alarming thing about the era was hardly anyone knew the result of the game from the day before!
Another alarming thing was that Mr Gordans pioneering exercise was illegal. The man from County Galway wound up in Londons Crown Court. The Irish in London would wait another decade before they saw live GAA action.
Amazingly, long before the advent of Google and YouTube, Ambrose Gordan provided the World with GAA footage. Sometime in the mid-eighties one of the tapes ended up in Hong Kong. Not long after a GAA club sprung up. It is only a matter of coincidence. They say!
We in Experience Gaelic Games will be watching anxiously as the GAA Global empire expands further.
Ambrose Gordon Radio Documentary
Peach Cup Video Report
Home From Home Teaser