Gaelic Games – A unique glue that binds an Ancient Nation
Le Cormac Ó Donnchú
In Gaelic Culture the local tribal warrior is revered – It’s the way it always has been and continues to this day!
Ancient Celtic tales recount the extraordinary deeds of legendary leaders such as Fionn MacCumhaill and his warriors of Na Fianna in their heroic escapades across our land. The lore of their great warrior and sporting feats has been recounted around Irish firesides for thousands of years. They’ve left a lasting legacy. Many of our modern Irish place names come from the events recounted in these ancient stories.
Today our story begins at the birthplace of modern Irish Independence the General Post Office, on O’Connell Street, in the heart of Dublin City. At that very sacred spot where Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of Independence in 1916 there’s now a monument to those who sacrificed their lives in the cause of Modern Irish Freedom.
It’s an artistic representation of another legendary Celtic warrior and leader – Cú Chulainn. In the sculpture Cú Chulainn is mortally wounded and in a gesture of defiance he has strapped himself to an upright stone. As a final act of honour he will face his enemies standing tall until the bitter end.
The symbolism of Cú Chulainn on this site is multilayered. It’s presence on our main street evokes images of the days when Celtic Tribal armies wandered the land. A time when warriors spent their days in the great royal centres like, Tara and Eamhain Mhacha. It was there that they honed their skills for battle, trained their minds for strategy playing board games like Ficheall (Gaelic Chess) and on the sporting field, combined battle skills and strategy by playing our national sport of Hurling.
Our legends tell us that our hero was born and raised as Setanta but became known as Cú Chulainn after he killed the hound of Culainn by hitting him with a hurling ball in an act of self defence.
Our first ever sporting superstar has now been immortalised on our sacred site of Independence it speaks volumes of the status of sporting endeavour in Ireland.
For many visitors and locals alike the monument goes unnoticed. Like much in Ireland in the absence of its story and history it’s full meaning is rarely appreciated
Could you imagine a bat of Babe Ruth’s in the hand of the Statue of Liberty or an American Football at the Washington Monument but therein lies thee difference – Gaelic sporting endeavour has always defined us as a nation.
Our Native sports have a history as long as humans inhabited this ancient land.
The truly remarkable aspect is that our indigenous Gaelic Games are not just of history books and Museums. That’s why we’d recommend that all visitors to Ireland should come and Experience Gaelic Games – to truly get to know us – don’t just stay with us come and play with us.
Come and visit us at Experience Gaelic Games to find out about it for yourself