Article credit: Marian McHugh – alt.cardiff
With immigration a hot button issue, how do these newcomers keep their culture in a different country? Gaelic football (aka GAA) serves as a linchpin for Irish immigrants to celebrate their culture wherever they are in the world, including Cardiff.
Ireland is celebrating a streak of success in international sports, but their national game, Gaelic, is not one of these. A sport with a long history, these ties are kept strong by local team St. Colmcille’s.
This popularity means that the sport has been exported around the world with the Irish diaspora. Established in 1956, St. Colmcille’s GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) club now has 150 members. It was formed to promote Irish culture and to provide a link to home for immigrants.
“I think Gaelic plays a massive role in keeping Irish people in touch with the homeland. The club is a community which creates a home from home for everyone involved,” says Kate Cunningham, captain of Colmcille’s ladies team. Kate moved to Cardiff last year and notes that she has women from Ireland getting in touch before they move over, which indicates the desire among ex-pats to maintain their links to Ireland.
This is a sentiment shared by Aidan Farrelly, a member of Colmcille’s men’s team, who has lived in Cardiff for eight years. He says that the club uses every opportunity to promote the sport, including appearing on S4C and fundraising for local charities annually. He adds that the club is “inclusive” of everyone, regardless of nationality.
Aidan draws parallels between the Irish and Welsh cultures, comparing the local Gaelic club’s role in the Irish community to that of the local rugby club in a Welsh one. He states that living abroad for anyone, “Makes you more aware of your own heritage and keeping your own sense of cultural identity.”