Report by Philomena Brennan
Little did the founding fathers of our great club know back in the Spring of 1969 that their hopes and dreams of a united club would, fifty years later, culminate in a night of celebration which saw nearly 300 people pack into the Set Theatre in John Street to proudly announce that they were proud to be members of the Graigue-Ballycallan GAA Club.
Attendees arrived well before the advertised start time, eager no doubt to meet the guest of honour, famed GAA commentator Micheál O’ Muircheartaigh. Micheál was accompanied by his gracious “bean chéile” Helena.
For nigh on an hour Micheál was the epitome of patience and graciousness as he personally signed the GBC Souvenir Book , “A reflection on 50 years of Graigue-Ballycallan 1969-2019” for the countless who queued. Dedications were all signed “As Gaeilge” and the time he took to personalise all inscriptions was appreciated by all.
Vice-Chairman, Adrian Ronan commenced proceedings when Milo Hennessy, Editor and Chairman Dave O’Neill joined Micheál on stage. Milo described the last six months of hard work and research that went into the publication of the book and was at pains to thank the Book Committee for their dedication and hard work. Chairman Dave O’Neill expressed his delight and spoke for all of GBC when he said it was an honour to share our Golden Jubilee Celebrations with a man that had been the “Voice” of the GAA for decades. And when Micheál was interviewed he held the crowd spell-bound as he recounted tales of past glory both on and off the field. It was a telling sight to see both young and not so young in the audience hang onto his every word and their obvious respect and admiration was expressed in the sustained applause at the end.
A presentation of a gift to Micheál to mark the auspicious occasion followed. GBC had commissioned a piece by local wood-turner Gabriel Wall to present to the guest. The brief given to Gabriel had been simple, design and produce a piece that in his opinion would represent and capture the essence of the famed commentator. A simple task!! When a picture of the piece was displayed on the screen behind the people on stage, the audible gasp from the crowd was proof if proof was needed, that Gabriel not only achieved the brief, he exceeded all expectations. He designed and produced a radio microphone. The piece was turned from locally sourced ash and was mounted on a walnut plinth. The inscription read “ To Micheál, from Graigue-Ballycallan GAA on our Golden Jubilee”. A presentation of flowers was made to Helena by Secretary Philomena Brennan.
After a brief interlude and while the stage was being readied for the second part of the show, a slide show outlining all the major occasions of the club’s history was shown. Memories came flooding back as scenes from the seventies right up to the present day were shown.
The second half commenced and saw Adrian Ronan host a panel discussion among past and present players who represented the different decades since our foundation. Past greats, Joe Millea, John Caldbeck, John Hoyne and present players Eddie Brennan, James Ryall and Billy Ryan provided great entertainment with their stories of past exploits. Even though there was perhaps a fifty year age gap between oldest and youngest on stage, what bound them all together was their obvious love for their club and the aspiration that better was yet to come.
Chairman Dave O’Neill concluded the night with a heartfelt thanks to all who had made the night such a success. He expressed his hope that GBC would continue to thrive and develop and remain as a vibrant, inclusive and successful GAA Club at the heart of the community.