Hurling history project planned

The 1920 Ballyvarley senior hurling team
The 1920 Ballyvarley senior hurling team

A local GAA club is set for £10,000 support from the Heritage Lottery Fund to trace the impact of hurling on the local community over the past two centuries.

The project, organised by Aghaderg GFC and Ballyvarley HC, will focus on the history of Ballyvarley and how hurling has tied in with local people and the area over the past 200 years – with the potential to touch on two world wars, the Troubles and social issues such as transport and rural depopulation.

Different generations of families in the area will contribute to oral histories about how both hurling and the community have changed together over decades.

The club will research and publish a book recording local hurling history – to be launched at a celebration event when complete – along with a DVD of recordings from both past and present.

A wall mural depicting the significance of the sport to local people will also be painted at the club as part of the project.

Paul Mullan, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund Northern Ireland, said: “This is an interesting project which will weave together the community’s history with heritage of hurling in the area.

“It’s a great example of what can be done with some of our smaller grant programmes.

“We would encourage other local groups with ideas about conserving and sharing local heritage to get in touch and explore how our grant programmes could help them.

Engagement with a number of local school pupils and older people will also be supported by HLF funding, including trips to Navan Fort, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and the Ulster American Folk Park.

Project manager Gerard O’Neill said: “There is a rich two-hundred-year history that we wish to make known to the local community and the wider population at large.

“We want to examine how and why hurling grew in this area and how it experienced triumph and trials in its development.

“The first official club was founded in 1889 and we can trace the impacts of two world wars, The Troubles, emigration, rural depopulation, remoteness from other hurling areas and the vagaries of various modes of transport on a story that encompasses successes and failures as a community.”