Hurled back in time. . . archive DVD recalls GAA gold
Published 04/11/2010 | 05:00
BEFORE TV, it was the only way of seeing an All-Ireland final outside of Croke Park.
Unique film footage from every hurling final from 1948 to 1959 features in a new DVD released by the Irish Film Archive.
Much of 'GAA Gold' long predates RTE's television coverage, and instead draws on archive material shot by cameramen of the then National Film Institute.
The DVD features hurling legends Christy Ring, John Doyle, Eddie Keher and Nicky Rackard in action, as well as three-in-a-row wins by All Ireland victors Tipperary and Cork. Also captured is the build-up to these giant fixtures from the 40s and 50s.
Fans are seen arriving by train and bus and parading down O'Connell Street. Politicians and clergy are seen joining in the match-day pageantry.
And as the teams are locked in combat on the hallowed turf of Croke Park, the voice of legendary broadcaster Micheal O'Hehir is heard conveying the excitement of the long-lost matches.
"Micheal O'Hehir is hugely important because, hurling being so fast, so often the cameras missed a goal in the early matches," Kasandra O'Connell, head of the Irish Film Archive told the Irish Independent.
However, the one-man camera team made up for any omissions by recording details on and off the pitch at Croke Park.
Linesmen waving their flags with cigarettes in their mouths, children watching the action from behind the goals, and legions of fans arriving early in the day at Heuston (then Kingsbridge) Station were caught indelibly on celluloid.
"What comes across from the footage is the excitement created by an All-Ireland. Not only would people be arriving in Dublin from all over the country, Irish-Americans are shown in Dublin buying the colours.
"The vast number of people in O'Connell Street would then be seen marching up Jones Road to Croke Park. It really shows you how the whole of the city was consumed by match day," added Ms O'Connell.
It was the filming of an All-Ireland football final between Cavan and Kerry in New York in 1947 by a US company that led to the GAA inviting the then National Film Institute to capture the drama in Croke Park each September.
The reels, which were the only way to view the matches outside the stadium, were huge attractions when shown around the country in the months afterwards.
The filming continued until 1969, when national broadcaster RTE was able to relay each All-Ireland final live on TV and in full colour.