The children in 3rd and 4th class have a profound interest in GAA and their local GAA club, Garrymore. We decided to use our interest to inspire a local history project in September. We dedicated the month to becoming historians and set about researching the foundation of the GAA and how Garrymore club came to be.
We discovered that Gaelic games date right back to the time of Cú Chulainn, when they started to play a sport with a ball and a stick, later to become known as hurling. We studied documents and articles from the famous meeting in Hayes’s Hotel when the GAA was founded on November 1st 1884. We learned about ‘seven men in Thurles’, Croke Park through the years, famous matches and of course our own football loving county, Mayo. We used recycled materials to construct our very own model of Croke Park. Working in teams, the children created the different sections and we put it together to create this masterpiece.
We then turned our focus to Garrymore. We researched the local history records we could find. We were amazed to learn that Garrymore started off as Ballyglass with a black and yellow jersey. The reason for changing the name to Garrymore was to make it possible to play all the Roundfort parish players and it was Tom and Paddy Murphy, who came up with the name Garrymore. The locals played football in the fields and moved the sticks they used as goalposts from field to field. We learned that the spirit of the locals brought the club to where it is today, a spirit that is ever evident in the locality. We discovered that many of the children in our school have relations who played for Garrymore. It was lovely to associate with history on a personal level for the children.
We were eager to source the oldest surviving player form Garrymore and we used local knowledge, and information for Garrymore GAA to help us. We were delighted to make comtact with Frank Kavanagh, who turned 94 in September and Martin Prendergast who will be 94 in December. We looked up our old school roll books and discovered that Martin Prendergast went to school in Gortskehy NS. The children wrote letters to them and talked about school life today and Carras underage football. It made the project special to be able connect with Martin and Frank.
We were privileged to welcome a special visitor to our classroom as part of the project. Billy FItzpatrick, a native of Ballyglass, who played with Garrymore from the day it was established. He shared stories with us about his school life as a child and how it differs from today, about playing in fields in Ballyglass, and about his time playing for Garrymore and Mayo and how he always had a football with him as a young fella. The children were very interested to hear his tips about becoming the best footballer you can be, and I am sure they are at home practising their skills with both feet! We played a game of football for him and he assured us the future is bright for Garrymore and Mayo! We would like to thank Billy for his very kind gift of some new Gaelic balls for our class, which the children will treasure. Billy helped us bring our history project alive with his first hand account of the early days in Garrymore. I am sure the children will forever remember the day, Billy Fitzpatrick came to school.
History came alive for us in 3rd and 4th class this September as we worked on this local history project. We are very proud to be connected with the wonderful story and spirit of Garrymore GAA club.