While reading through the Tyrone County Board Secretary’s annual report it was good to see that the GAA are doing much more than just providing games and cultural activities for the young and young at heart within the county. The GAA has always been centred in the club and the club has always been centred within the parish and issues that impact on the life of the parish certainly impact on the life of the club and the club members. The GAA not only gives great direction to its members but the opportunities it provides for self and club development through its programmes for good governance are an example of an association that is confident and forward looking. It has shown itself to possess creativity and entrepreneurship but the association also has a sense of benevolence and natural justice and all sure to play a huge role in the restoration of the nation’s pride and in sourcing job creation opportunities.
Presently in Ireland there is much talk about recession and difficult times and a return to the mass emigration among our young people that was last seen at this level in the late seventies and early eighties. There is no doubt that is sure to happen as the challenges of unemployment and job shortages force many of our most talented and gifted to seek a livelihood abroad. Ireland’s loss is sure to be America and Australia’s gain and the GAA clubs based in these countries will also benefit as a result of the emigration that is sure to follow as a result of these difficult times.
Part of being Irish and living on such a small and regional island involves dealing with the boom and bust nature of the economy and being dependent on multi-national companies for many of the job opportunities on offer within the country. The prosperity and greed that comes with the good times is invariably replaced with the sense of blame and austerity of recessionary times. This is not the first recession we have endured and it won’t be the last. The real disappointment about this recession is that the signs were there for a long time before the politicians or bankers decided to act and their inactivity will have a serious effect on the lives of everyone living on this island for a generation or two to come. GAA clubs and their plans for future development will suffer as a result as well.
A wise man once said the one thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. Well that would certainly appear to be the case with the recession. Maybe these economic setbacks that the country has suffered will result in a more introspective but shared approach to our troubles as we seek to rebuild our national and international reputation. It will be interesting to see which political bigwigs are invited to attend the major GAA fixtures over the next few years but it might be prudent to give such invitations to some lesser known but more locally active individuals with a track record of involvement with their local clubs.
Such times require leadership and direction and the one association in the country that has these attributes in abundance is The GAA. Let’s hope that The GAA can take the lead in showing the way forward not only at the local level but also further afield. Irish people have always been adept at coping with difficult times and they don’t come any more difficult than the times we are presently living in.