The widely-acclaimed book, On This Day In Mayo, by Máirtín Ó Maicín will be launched in Dublin this Wednesday, November 22, at 7pm.
Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny will launch the book at the Croke Park Hotel in Drumcondra in what is expected to be a big gathering for the Mayos in Dublin.
All are welcome to attend. To give a flavour for the book, in this post we’re publishing two GAA-related entries. There are over 20 entries alone pertaining to the GAA in Mayo in this fascinating book.
From sport to politics, from education to religion and from the environment to space travel, men and women with Mayo blood have left their mark on the world stage and so many great stories from our county are recorded here.
Former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has described the book as ‘an absolute treasure chest of facts, data and information’.
He went on to say that the book should be left where it can be read and talked about.
“Every story I read in the fine publication I can hear a call of the past and a challenge of the future,” he said.
The book has proven extremely popular since its release in October and makes for an ideal Christmas gift for anyone with a grá for Mayo.
The book is on sale in all good bookshops and can be bought online from Mayo Books (here) and shipped anywhere in the world.
January 23/23 Eanáir – the Green above the Red
A GAA team from Mayo first wore the iconic green and red colours on Sunday, 23 January 1887
In the early days of the GAA, one of Mayo’s most renowned clubs was Tower Hill, situated in the parish of Carnacon. And though they have since ceased to exist, they remain the first club in the county to have worn the iconic colours associated with Mayo, donning them for the first time when playing Belcarra at a match in Tower Hill Demesne on 23 January 1887.
This would have been a natural progression at the time since the club adopted the words, ‘The Green Above the Red’, as its motto only two years earlier.
On the day in question, Colonel Maurice Blake, the local Catholic landlord who sponsored the club, decided to demonstrate his political allegiance by bedecking the ground with banners displaying the distinctive colours which would ultimately play a symbolic role in the county’s story. A plaque was erected on the demesne wall in July 2010 to record this event.
But the colours weren’t merely decided upon on a whim. Belcarra, their opponents in the game, were sponsored by the Brownes, a Protestant landlord family. Blake insisted that the players wear the colours in reference to the sentiments of Dr Thomas Croke, the historically-significant Archbishop of Cashel during the early years of the GAA, as expressed in a letter to GAA founder Michael Cusack.
In his letter to Cusack whereby he accepted an invitation to become patron of the GAA, Croke asserted that if the Irish did not stand up to express their nationality, that nationalists may just as well ‘clap hands for joy at the sight of the Union Jack, and place “England’s bloody red exultantly above the green”’.
The colours would eventually be adopted as the county colours years later during a county board meeting boasting a rather patriotic tone. When the issue was posed, Balla’s Dick Walsh, secretary of the board, was unequivocal when sharing his feelings on the matter. After the suggestion that Mayo’s colours were now ‘red and green’, he responded, rather forcefully, ‘Not so’.
‘Let there be no doubt in the mind of anyone, the Mayo colours are green above the red,’ he retorted. ‘God forbid Mayo would ever have red above the green.’
With that, the Mayo colours were decided upon. And they have continued to represent the county even if most of its populace remain oblivious to the subtle Fenian undertones. Those present at Tower Hill Demesne in 1887 were certainly aware of the significance.
Letter From Archbishop Croke To Michael Cusack On The GAA, 1884.
O’Hara, Bernard. Exploring Mayo. Killasser/Callow Heritage Society, 2017.
Reilly, Terry, and Ivan Neill. The Green Above The Red, 1985.
December 5/5 Nollaig – Mayo lose All-Ireland in the boardroom
The GAA Central Council ruled against Mayo’s claim to the All-Ireland championship on Saturday, 5 December 1925
No county has witnessed as much pain and heartbreak, as far as Gaelic football is concerned, as Mayo. But the pain and heartbreak didn’t start after the county’s back-to-back successes that hastened a drought in the early 1950s.
The story of the 1925 All-Ireland championship is deserving of mention in any discussion relating to Mayo’s unfortunate record in the All-Ireland championship. The history books state that Mayo won their first All-Ireland title in September 1936 but that doesn’t necessarily tell the full story of Mayo’s record in finals during the first half of the 20th century. Though the records state that Galway won their first title in 1925, Mayo had a very strong claim to it.
The story of the 1925 football championship is indeed extraordinary in the extreme. The Connacht championship was delayed due to a number of draws between Sligo and Roscommon and, as the All-Ireland fixture date was looming near, Mayo were nominated, as reigning Connacht champions, to represent the province at the semi-final stage. They duly met Wexford, the Leinster champions, on 30 August 1925 and, after an epic encounter, the western side emerged victorious.
The second semi-final pairing saw Cavan face Kerry with both sides subsequently lodging objections against one another. The hearing of the objections resulted in both teams being declared illegal by the GAA’s Central Council and, accordingly, Mayo, as the winners of the other semi-final, were declared All-Ireland champions.
Meanwhile, back in Connacht, Sligo eventually defeated Roscommon and went on to meet Mayo in the Connacht semi-final. Mayo duly won. They then faced Galway, who initially refused to meet Mayo in the rescheduled Connacht final. When the game was eventually played, Galway were the victors and, in a bizarre move, the Central Council declared Galway the 1925 All-Ireland champions, despite Mayo claiming that the match was merely a provincial final.
Mayo County Board and the Connacht Council protested strongly at the decision to award the All-Ireland to the Tribesmen, but their protests were in vain.
The Central Council met on 5 December to hear the case and, following a long drawn-out discussion, the chairman ruled that he was not prepared to diverge from his earlier decision, and Galway held on to their first All-Ireland title.
Reilly, Terry, and Ivan Neill. The Green Above The Red. 1985.
‘GAA – The Senior Connacht Championship: Connacht Council Decision’. Western People, 1925.
‘Galway Champions: GAA Council’s Long Sitting’. Western People, 1925.
‘Why Galway Are Champions’. Irish Independent, 1925.