Back in the mid 1970s, when we had just built our clubrooms and we were in court seeking a Club Licence, I recall being asked somewhat the same question by the Judge who wanted to know what were the objectives of this club. Having just reacquainted himself with the relevant law, he then very helpfully rephrased his question and asked me if the club would be providing ‘rational recreation and social intercourse’, just like the law apparently required. I assured him that it would and he duly granted the licence. So at one level, there you have it. That’s what our club is about. No different to what the gentlemens’ clubs were about all those years before and for whom those laws were obviously framed. So ever since, when there’s a ‘dust up’ around the square in the closing minutes of a game and all hell is breaking loose, it’s nice to know that this is just a bit of ‘rational recreation and social intercourse’.
At the everyday level of course the club is about hurling, football, handball and camogie. It’s about the various competitions and games, the people who play them, the officials who guide them, the supporters who follow them and all those who help to run, promote and fund them. A place for everyone, everyone with a place and unsung heroes everywhere. And that is still but part of it.
The GAA for me is ultimately about community - about pride of place, local identity and a sense of belonging. They were the reasons why, from the outset, the GAA wanted its clubs to be based on parish. These features of place, identity and togetherness are inherent parts of who GAA people are, we value them, we don’t forget them and they are undoubtedly the GAA’s and the club’s greatest assets. Our club logo is designed to portray as much. It’s why we fly and face our flag.
In larger towns and cities where the vagaries of life and urban sprawl puts pressure on these concepts, local county committees are required to identify club bases separately and the notion of a parish GAA community can sometimes get lost. For instance, hurling in Kilkenny city in the 1960s was a complex world where some dozen or so clubs at some stage or other fielded teams. Some, though not all, were content to register a name and a colour and be happy to compete - often with little sense of place, identity or belonging outside of fielding that team. But that was yesterday. Today it’s different. The GAA world of the city and its environs has changed and become closer to embracing those original concepts. O’Loughlin Gaels claim St. John’s as our base and all involved have good reason to be part of that identity.
"And by the way, isn’t it also nice to know that our club’s current stage productions and performances, castings, costumes and choreography, dancing, dramatics and direction are all part of this ‘rational recreation and social intercourse’ programme of ours - just as old Judge Fawsitt envisaged all those years ago. Unsung heroes all!
(Written by Eamonn Doyle, Founding Member of O'Loughlin Gaels GAA, on the occasion of our Lipsync Battles Fundraiser December '19)