GAA has done us all a great service
THE visit of Queen Elizabeth is turning out to be a great success, and there was a huge audience for the royal wedding, but nationalist Ireland has no hankering after monarchy. It does, however, boast an institution that is held in much the same esteem and affection as the British hold their Crown. That institution is the GAA.
What makes this institution so unusual -- possibly unique -- is that a sporting body should be held in such high regard and be so vibrantly democratic. The less said about FIFA or the IOC in such a context, the better.
If for no other reason, Croke Park would be worth a royal visit. An understanding of the history and status of the GAA will reveal as much as anything could about the nature of Irish society. That is why President Mary McAleese specially asked that the Croke Park visit be part of the queen's programme.