PIARSAIGH an Ghallbhaile CLG are basking in the afterglow of an exceptionally successful initiative undertaken last weekend to allow GAA clubs all over the world to collectively mark the 100th anniversary of the massacre of a woman, three children and 10 adult men in and around Páirc an Chrocaigh on Sunday, November 21 1920; a day etched in Irish history which became forever known as Ireland’s first Bloody Sunday.
Every Gael who has ever set foot in the famous Jones’ Road stadium will no doubt be familiar with the name Michael Hogan and be aware of his immortal place in Irish sporting history. Since 1926 the east-facing stand has carried his illustrious name and annually has witnessed some of the greatest sporting triumphs and heartbreaks ever seen.
That northeast corner of the ground where Hill 16 meets the new Cusack Stand will always be revered as it is where Michael’s last drop of blood lay crimson on the hallowed turf as his young life ebbed away whilst whispering the prayers for a happy death that he was taught years beforehand in the Hogan homestead in Grangemockler.
Over the last 10 years or so the GAA at national level have set about properly commemorating all the victims of that terrible atrocity committed by British Crown Forces, something that inexplicably had not been done up until now.
This worthy project was led by a History Committee based in GAA HQ, at its very heart Michael Foley whose seminal work ‘The Bloodied Field’ meticulously sets out the events of the day and the terrible consequences for so many families of the innocent dead. Michael, a Mallow man, was a neighbour of John Moylan, Galbally’s own adopted Cork man and successful senior team manager.
Having ensured that none of the dead of that day now lie in unmarked graves, the GAA set out a planned series of major events in the lead up to last Saturday night culminating in the completion of the ‘Great Challenge Match’ between Tipperary and Dublin with the game to start at the exact minute that the match was abandoned a century ago.
The worldwide pandemic put paid to many of these plans and instead we witnessed a most fitting and poignant tribute to all of the 14 victims in suitably darkened surroundings.
Those torches will always burn brightly in our memory as the collective amnesia that inspired Michael Foley to correct a terrible historical wrong is banished forever.
An Uachtarán CLG John Horan’s call for every Gaelic household across the world to light a Remembrance Candle in the window at dusk on the evening of the 100th Anniversary of Domhnach na Fola – B100dy Sunday was a particularly fitting gesture.
And yet the Association is at its strongest when we act collectively, whether that be to celebrate famous victories or to help carry us through tragedy and grief.
In September 2019 Galbally were honoured to light up our fantastic floodlight facilities to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Gaels in Roger Casement’s CLG, Portglenone, in memory of one of their own, Paul McKeever, who was taken from this world all too early.
Borrowing on that wonderful idea of bringing light to darkness, Galbally asked clubs all over the world to light up their club grounds from 7.20pm to 8pm in memory of all the victims of B100dy Sunday.
Galbally pride themselves on being “I grcoílár an phobail – At the heart of the community” and this initiative afforded us all a sense of being part of a collective remembrance in our own place wherever that may be.
The response was truly amazing as we once again witnessed the remarkable bond of friendship that binds the Association together. Hundreds of photographic responses on Galbally social media platforms encapsulated the evening from all parts of Ireland to Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, all across the USA and as far away as Argentina which has always had such strong Celtic ties.
Standing in semi-darkness on the deserted steps of Hill 16 silhouetted by 14 flickering torches, Brendan Gleeson’s powerful delivery of the script fittingly written by Michael Foley so eloquently captured the moment and spirit of the formal commemoration on Saturday evening.
Absolutely no one was left in any doubt that these fourteen victims “were our people – our family. Cuimhnínis orthu úilig– We will remember them all.”” Piarsaigh an Ghallbhaile CLG are proud to have played their part!
-Copy kindly supplied by Galbally chairperson Noel McKeown