GAA club fails to explain decision to scrap O'Donovan Rossa crest

The original Ardboe GAA logo 
Connla Young

A CO Tyrone GAA club named after republican icon Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa has refused to be drawn on why it dropped a new crest dedicated to the Fenian leader.

The decision to scrap the logo was taken at Ardboe O’Donovan Rossa GFC’s annual general meeting on Sunday.

The new logo had been designed by a sub committee set up to examine how the club could mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising and was passed at last year's AGM.

It is understood the crest, which bears the image of the Fenian leader set against a tricolour background, has been used alongside an original club logo on all new merchandise since being adopted last year.

The club’s traditional crest includes a picture of a local Celtic Cross - known as the ‘Old Cross’, a Tyrone ‘Red Hand’ and the initials ODR for O’Donovan Rossa.

However, some members have been angered after a motion calling for the club to use only the traditional logo was passed by 88 votes to 22 at the weekend AGM.

Newly appointed club chairman Paddy O’Neill declined to comment on Monday night about the decision to drop the crest bearing O’Donovan Rossa’s image adding only that there had been “no change to the Ardboe crest” which has been in use since 1989.

“O’Donovan Rossa is represented in that crest and will continue to be represented,” he said.

Located on the shores of Lough Neagh, Ardboe is considered by many to be a hardline republican area.

A monument located a short distance from the club’s pavilion and playing fields lists the names of IRA members killed during the Troubles.

The club is named after O’Donovan Rossa, a leading member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood who died in America in 1915 and his remains were later returned to Ireland for burial.

Easter Rising leader Padraig Pearse, who was executed after the rebellion, gave a rousing oration at O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral, which later became part of republican folklore.

Earlier this year the Ardboe club held ‘a night of song, dance and story’ to mark the centenary of the Rising.

One of Tyrone’s best known clubs, it supplied a string of players to the Tyrone county panel for decades including Frank McGuigan who famously scored 11 points from open play in the 1984 Ulster Final against Armagh.

The club is currently considering ambitious plans to build a new pavilion at its grounds.

Sources in Ardboe however say the decision has caused deep division.

“It’s sad when a place with the reputation of Ardboe wants to scrap something with the tricolour on it,” one club member said.

“It has the potential to split the club in two.”

The area recently came to prominence through the BBC period drama ‘My Mother and Other Strangers’ which is about a fictional rural area based on Ardboe during the Second World War.

The drama is the brainchild of Ardboe native Barry Devlin, former member of the Celtic rock band, the Horslips.


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