They came in their droves last Friday night - and not just from Granard, but from all over counties Longford and Cavan - to join with St Mary’s GFC, at the clubhouse and grounds on the outskirts of the town, to trace a nostalgic look back at the football and social history of the area from 1888, during the launch of a very special publication - ‘‘The Granard GAA Story -125 years’.
“You can take the man out of Granard, but you’ll not take Granard out of the man,” a jubilant chairman of the book committee Seamus Finnan teased, to which a rapturous cheer arose. “Granard tonight, is a town of the many welcomes and welcome to everyone that is here. A lot of research went into this book.”
Reminiscing upon on his own days in the blue and white, Mr Finnan then smiled, “Whether you were a country lad or from the town - when we donned the St Mary’s colours, we were all the men from Granard. The purpose of this book, is to put on record, the activities of St Mary’s GAA - one of the first GAA clubs ever to emerge in Co Longford. The importance of our local history cannot be overstated and it is very much encapsulated in this book.”
Then came the special moment when the publication was officially launched and it was the Club’s president Rodgie Martin who stepped up to the plate.
“This is a great gathering altogether,” he laughed. “There are only two other places where you would get such a mixture of people and that’s either at a wedding or a funeral! Good health, happy reading; we have come a long journey.”
There then followed about half and hour of hilarity, as sports reports from the Longford Leader dating back as far as 1935 provided detailed and notorious accounts of the colourful and talented antics of the boys in blue and white on the field. “It is a privilege and honour to have the Club’s story published,” an emotional chairman, Andrew Gettings then added. “It is a reflection of the history of St Mary’s GAA from the very beginning right up to recent times. It was when we opened our new clubhouse and grounds in 2009 that the seeds were sown for this publication, and while everyone helped out, it was Seamus Finnan and Matt Smith who were at the helm over the last three years. One man who is not here tonight, and who is responsible for the graphics is Michael Murray, and I want to thank him for everything he did also. It has taken three years to bring ‘The Granard GAA Story -125 years’ to this stage and we were very fortunate to have secured 75% Leader Funding from Longford Community Resources Ltd (LCRL) for the project, so thank you very much to LCRL as well.”
Leinster Council Chairman and former chairman of Longford County Board, Martin Skelly - who was unable to attend proceedings in Granard last Friday night - also sent his best wishes to the side. “This is a fabulous publication,” Mr Skelly said. “It is the first definitive book of record in Co Longford and well done to all involved.”
In conclusion, County Archivist Martin Morris then pointed out, “This publication is an extraordinary testament to the work that went into it”.
“The dedication that went into it, iis an indication of the pride and love of GAA,” he continued. “It is a major piece of Longford’s history, is a wonderful publication and will be a bestseller; well done to you all.”