251 The Canadian County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association
In recognition of the
contribution to sport in Canada
Canadian County Board President Mr. Brian Farmer and Secretary of the Canadian County Board Mr. John O’Flynn
Irish Sporting and Social Club of Vancouver 40th Anniversary GAALA event in Vancouver. B.C.
Canada‘s embrace of Gaelic games has provided wonderful memories for those of the Irish-Canadian community and has created an opportunity for all to discover an exciting facet of Ireland’s culture.
The history of Gaelic games in Canada, before the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland in 1884 and in the years since, proves a determination by Irish immigrants who have arrived in numerous provinces of Canada. Through their dedication the flag of Irish sports has flown strong, and will continue to fly in the years to come.
The sporting traditions include the oldest European field game of hurling-a masterful art and the fastest game in the world-in which players use an ash wood stick and a hard ball. Many argue with some conviction, and no small amount of fact to support their case, that Canada’s national sport, ice hockey, has its origins in hurling. The word puck is derived from the Irish word poc, which is the action of striking the ball with a hurley.
In 1845, the civic fathers of Quebec City banned the playing of hurling in their narrow streets, while in St. John’s, Newfoundland, hurling was being played as early as 1788 at the “Barrens” of the city.
The ladies’ version of hurling, Camogie, has had its presence on occasion in some Canadian communities. The skilful play of Gaelic Football, which has dominated the sporting scene across the country in many Canadian cities, continues to be the greatest strength in modern times.
The name of the Gaelic Athletic Association, as it applies to Canada, is the Canadian County Board, Incorporated (CCB). The basic aim of the CCB is to preserve and promote Gaelic Games and pastimes in Canada. In seven provinces (five time zones) of the Maple Leaf County are 15 cities with 21 affiliated GAA clubs with over 700 playing participants.
Going from West to East (7,349 km in total), the Western Divisional Board (Founded in 1994) consisting of British Columbia’s Vancouver Irish Sporting and Social Club; Alberta’s Calgary Chieftains, Red Deer Eire Ogs (Mens), Edmonton Wolfe Tones, Fort McMurray Shamrocks (Mens); Saskatchewan’s Regina Gaels (Mens), and Saskatoon’s Clann na nGael (Mens).
The Toronto Divisional Board (Founded in 1947) consisting of Ontario’s Toronto Hurling Club, St. Mikes, St. Pats, St. Vincents (Mens), Gaels (Mens), Camogie Club; Durham Robert Emmets, and Brampton Roger Casements (Ladies).
The Eastern Divisional Board (Founded in 2014) consisting of Ontario’s Ottawa Gaels and Eire Og Ottawa Hurling, Quebec’s Montreal Shamrocks, Quebec City Les Patriotes, Nova Scotia’s Halifax Gaels and Newfoundland and Labrador’s St. John’s Avalon Harps.
The founding of the Canadian County Board took place in Toronto, Ontario on Sunday, November 15th 1987. GAA President Dr. Mick Loftus of Crossmolina, County Mayo, chaired the meeting. Among those in attendance were Toronto’s Cormac O’Muiri, Ottawa’s Pat Kelly, Montreal’s Paul Moran and Paddy Dunne (R.I.P.). The first elections of officers were Toronto’s Paul Kennedy as Chairman, Vancouver’s John O’Flynn as Secretary and Ottawa’s Michael Connolly as Treasurer.
Others who have served on the County Board since its foundation include Diarmuid O’Connor, Noelle Russell, Sean Harte, Matthew Healy, Fionnuala McGovern, Pat Donnelly, Billy Millar, Lorraine Morley, Jarlath Connaughton and Eddie Mangan.
Youth Organizations that the County Board work with include Vancouver ISSC, Brampton Rebels, Toronto Chieftains, Ottawa Gaels and Ottawa Eire Og Hurling.
Over twenty years later, the County Board consists of President Brian Farmer (Toronto), Vice-President Jarlath Connaughton (Ottawa), Treasurer Eddie Mangan (Toronto) and Secretary John O’Flynn (Vancouver) with over 500 registered players from four Provinces within Canada – British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
The CCB is a democratic organization comprised of the following units: Affiliated Clubs, Divisional Boards of Toronto and Western Canada, and the County Committee.
In ten cities across Canada are 14 affiliated clubs with the majority having both mens and ladies teams. A few clubs have flourishing minor programmes. British Columbia’s – Vancouver Harps, Alberta’s Calgary Chieftains, Red Deer Eire Ogs, Edmonton Wolfe Tones, Ontario’s Toronto’s St. Mikes, St. Pats (Mens), St. Vincents (Mens), Toronto Gaels (Mens), Durham – Robert Emmets, Brampton Roger Casements, Michael Cusacks (Ladies), Ottawa Gaels and Quebec’s Montreal Shamrocks and Les Patriotes de Quebec of Quebec City.