New book captures grassroots GAA club games from all over Ireland

The sun shone ahead of the Castlewellan vs Bryansford match in Co Down
The sun shone ahead of the Castlewellan vs Bryansford match in Co Down

TRAVELLING from Cork to Donegal only to discover that the match you'd planned to see has been cancelled an hour before throw-in, is one of the many sacrifices GAA fans know all too well.

It's a frustration photographer Paul Carroll experienced more than once in his seven years journeying around Ireland for a new book capturing grassroots GAA games from each of the 32 counties.

Starting out in 2009, the Cork based photographer fitted in two jobs to travel to games around the island, clocking up around 31,000 miles in the process.

The product of his efforts, a book entitled Gaelic Fields, is expected to be released at the end of November.

The book is being funded through an appeal on Kickstarter. He has so far raised €4,000 and is still hopeful of reaching his €10,000 target by a deadline of September 2.

Although based in Cork for more than a decade, Paul is a proud Limerick man and has first hand knowledge of the GAA having previously lined out at underage level for his club Murroe Boher.

He said he was inspired to take up the project by the work of Dutch photographer Hans Van Der Meer who photographed grassroots soccer games across Europe over a period of ten years in his book 'European Fields'

After a day's work in social care in Cork Paul says he would often jump in his car in the evening to head to various locations for games.

"Ninety nine times out of 100 clubs reacted with interest and a bit of bemusement. They would ask what I was doing attending a junior club game in Longford on a Thursday evening.

"However, the most common question I got was always what my own club was."

Among the amusing stories he tells include the cancellations of games that put paid to the best laid plans.

He said: "I went from Cork to Dunfanaghy for a game and the game was cancelled with an hour to go. My girlfriend is Dutch and she couldn't understand it, but that is the way things work sometimes in the GAA.

"Sometimes cancellations happen because of deaths and that is a very respectful side of the GAA."

He said in his experience the GAA played a positive role in people's lives.

"What I learnt is what everyone knows about the GAA. The club is so important and binds people together."

During his travels the most unusual location he has visited is the island of Inishturk, several miles off the coast of Co Mayo.

"Inishturk has 34 people on the island. That means there would be enough for two teams plus subs if all the women and children were included.

"In a polar opposite example, Bailieborough in Co Cavan has a huge factory beside the pitch and you can hear this noise during games. It is equally as interesting and fascinating."

"There are a few places up there in the Glens of Antrim that are just stunning as well. We are not mindful of the beauty that there is around this country. We just take it for granted."

He said: "I have started thinking about the next project. My interest is sport and people and I am much more interested in images of people interacting with their surroundings."

To see more images or find out how to donate to the project go to