Many Irish, both at home and abroad, view Ireland in July as a place of festivals and homecomings, be it Galway city horse-racing at Ballybritt, or climbing the ‘reek’ (mountain) at Croagh Patrick, County Mayo on the final Sunday in July.
Others enjoy the ancient, Gaelic game of hurling, as the business-end of the hurling season begins in July and is completed during August or early September.
On Saturday and Sunday last, while many pilgrims were engaging with the demands of scaling Croagh Patrick, two epic hurling encounters were enthralling their supporters at Croke Park, the Dublin based sports-stadium.
Limerick faced Cork, with Limerick moving onwards to the All Ireland final on Sunday 19th August. Clare and Galway have to meet for a second time on Sunday 5th August, at Thurles stadium, to decide who will meet Limerick for the 2018 hurling final championship.
While Croke Park, Dublin is the primary Irish sports stadium, Semple Stadium / Thurles is the spiritual-home of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) since it was founded at Thurles by Burren native Michael Cusack, as well as seven others who attended that unique meeting in Hayes’s hotel on 1st November 1884. The founding of the GAA was part of an Irish cultural-revival from the 1880’s onwards which also inspired the forming of the new Irish State in 1922/23.
The illustration at left shows Michael Cusack at Cusack Park, Ennis with hurley and ball (sliothar) at his feet. This limestone sculpture was hewn by Michael McTigue of Kilnamona, whose mother was a member of the OLochlainn clan.
Sports Members and All Ireland Champions:
Many Clan members have represented both club and county through the decades including:
Michael OLoghlin, Limerick Commercials (1887); Micho OLoghlen, County Clare (1917); Colm OLoghlen, County Clare (1968); Ann Marie Hynes/OLoghlen, County Clare (1974); Catherine OLoughlin/Burke, County Clare (1995); Gerard OLoughlin, County Clare (1995).
The equivalent to hurling, played by females is known as camogie. Anne Marie and Catherine in the list above were both members of successful All Ireland winning County Clare camogie teams.
Scotland enjoys a similar game to hurling known as Shinty. Throughout recent decades Ireland and Scotland have met for hurling and Shinty games.
*Additional Note: for those interested in the history of hurling, GAA/RTE have combined to produce a three part TV documentary entitled; The Game, which is being screened at present during August Monday nights, through the RTE One tv channel. This documentary provides insight from some sixty interviews from both former players and team managers. Unique, early video-clips add significantly to the quality of this combined production.