An article entitled ‘Davy and Dalo Unite for Go Gaelic’ which appeared in The Clare People newspaper on July 3, 2012, ahead of the Clare v Dublin All-Ireland qualifier while also giving an insight into Go Gaelic’s origins:
While Davy Fitzgerald and Anthony Daly will be on opposing sides for this weekend’s knock-out All-Ireland Qualifier between Clare and Dublin in Cusack Park on Saturday, the former All-Ireland winning Banner team-mates were united recently to launch Go Gaelic, an introduction to Gaelic games for visitors to Ireland. The new tourism service will provide visitors with an opportunity to acquire some of the basic skills of hurling and football while learning about the history and heritage of the games, to witnessing live demonstration games.
Clare manager Fitzgerald and his Dublin counterpart Daly along with Clare’s rising stars John Conlon and Gary Brennan used their coaching expertise to help launch Go Gaelic in their native county as over 40 international students from the Shannon College of Hotel Management sampled hurling and gaelic football for the first time.
The newest recruits to Gaelic Games included students from China, the Seychelles and Estonia who were given an audio-visual introduction to the history, culture and the games themselves before embarking on a two hour outdoor practical coaching session in hurling and football.
Go Gaelic will operate across a number of centres along the West coast and will provide coaching and Gaelic Games introductions to primarily individual visitors, groups, international students, school exchanges, tour operators and corporate groups. The Go Gaelic mobile unit will also conduct experience sessions throughout the country.
“It’s a great idea,” outlined Dublin supremo Anthony Daly, “and it’s brilliant to see the games being exposed to a wider audience. I’ve often wondered how fascinated people are with Gaelic Games when they come to visit Ireland and equally when the games and hurling in particular, are so spectacular, why other countries haven’t tried it? Daly added “When you come here on holidays, I’m sure people like to experience the culture and all things Irish, and sure there’s nothing more Irish than hurling and gaelic football.
Clare manager Fitzgerald also pointed out the cultural significance of the Go Gaelic concept after witnessing at first hand how much the students enjoyed sampling a taste of Ireland’s national games.
“I hope tourists and visitors will take it up because this is part of our culture in Ireland. Anyone interested in sport, once they get any exposure to this whatsoever, I believe they’ll enjoy it; so let’s hope it catches on. “People are fascinated by the games and given the chance, they will try and pick up the skills. With Gaelic Games being an integral part of our culture in Ireland, I think this is a fantastic initiative.
The Clare manager also outlined “My view is that we don’t use this game [hurling] half enough outside of Ireland because as a game, it’s second to none. Aussie Rules and American Football are seen around the world but we have a game that is far more exciting, and exposing other countries to it will only help the games’ popularity beyond Ireland.”
The seeds of Go Gaelic were sown back in the mid noughties when Clarecastle natives Eoin Vaughan and Eoin Brennan traveled to South Korea to teach English.
“During our stay in Seoul, we got involved in the local gaelic football team and played in the Asian Gaelic Games in Shanghai with the Seoul Gaels of Korea.” Explained Go Gaelic’s Eoin Vaughan.
“It was amazing to witness the surge in popularity of gaelic football in particular amongst people of various nationalities. The best player on the ladies football team was Canadian and we also had French, Americans, Koreans and Colombians on our men’s team.
“While playing in the Asian Games, we also took part in the first competitive game of hurling and the locals who came to watch were fascinated by the uniqueness of the game and only wanted to learn more about it.”
Those initial seeds formed the nucleus of an idea that only blossomed when returning to Ireland a few years later as the GAA Development Officer of Trinity College.
“While working in Dublin, I was involved in organising a “Have a go Day” which was staged in Clanna Gael Fontenoy’s GAA grounds in Ringsend. I got a lot of help and support from Tony Wattene – the GAA’s inclusion and integration officer. The event went off very well and this convinced me that there was scope to offer introductory courses to tourists.”
With the financial support and guidance of the Clare Local Development Company (LEADER), Go Gaelic came to fruition earlier this year, with the launch in Shannon the final step in the process after months of development and trial runs.
“Our main emphasis is for participants to have fun in a healthy safe environment,” outlined Vaughan. “All the equipment is provided so all people have to do is turn up and bring plenty of enthusiasm.
“Very often tourists remain unaware of our national games and we felt this was a shame. We also intend to cater for the growing number of International students attending English Language Colleges and Irish Universities.”
And with events planned in various locations around the county and beyond for the remainder of the Summer, the Go Gaelic team are also looking for part-time coaches to assist them in their courses as Eoin Brennan explained further.
“With both active and passive packages available, we can accommodate everyone who visits our shores. Part of the attraction of the courses as we have learned, is the chance to mix with locals and get a real sense of Irish culture, something that they can’t experience with sightseeing.
“So what we are looking for are outgoing coaches who can both interact with the participants and also have a background in gaelic games.”
For more information, visit www.gogaelic.ie call 087 6032425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org