BANK Holiday Monday, October 29th promises to be a significant day for Birr GAA Club as Uachtaran Cumann Luthchleas Gael Liam O’Neill will perform the official launch of a new book and DVD entitled “Magic Memories - Birr GAA Club Through the Lens” at 8pm in the County Arms Hotel.
The comprehensive 240-page historical publication which features 330 photographs and 50,000 words recounting the club’s many successes is being published to coincide with the centenary of Birr’s first Offaly senior hurling championship title triumph in 1912.
In conjunction with the book that will retail at €10, a DVD also entitled “Magic Memories – Birr GAA Through The Lens” has been produced by Gary Hoctor of Hello Camera and this, too, will be launched by Uachtaran CLG Liam O’Neill.
The DVD features footage from interviews with All-Ireland club winning captains Johnny Pilkington, Joe Errity and Simon Whelahan and Millennium Man Brian Whelahan along with 1971 SHC winning captain Declan Hennessy, Johnny Hogan and Christy Walsh from the 1938 – ’48 era, renowned and celebrated underage coach Bro Vincent and many more well-known personalities including Bro Denis, Pat Joe Whelahan,
Herbert Hennessy, Declan & Rory Hanniffy, Ken Hogan, Padraig Horan, Martin Walsh, John Ryan and Newstalk / TV3 GAA pundit Daithi Regan.
The DVD has been produced with support from the Offaly Local Development Company. John Irwin, who will be the master of ceremonies for Monday’s launch, was behind the microphone asking the questions of those interviewed for the DVD, while Michael Donegan provides the voiceover that brings the story of the club together.
Darragh Molloy’s recording of a Birr song written as a tribute to the 1948 county championship winning side will also feature on the DVD which will be a treasured oral history of the club and the DVD will retail (separate from the book) at €10 also.
The book and DVD will both be on sale in the County Arms Hotel on the launch night and they will be available to purchase locally afterwards.
Birr’s lengthy honours list now features 22 county SHC titles, four All-Ireland and seven Leinster club titles as it joined the pantheon of great club sides during the past quarter of a century. The book and DVD was the brainchild of club committee member Martin McCarthy, who himself captained Birr minor hurlers to county glory back in 1979, and he brought together a committee that also includes Liz Kennedy (secretary), Gary Cahill & Herbert Hennessy (treasurers), Alan Walsh (PRO), Patrick ‘Junior’ O’Callaghan, Mick Spain and Cllr Tony McLoughlin.
The book is dedicated to the many volunteers who gave of their services to the club since its foundation. It incorporates eleven chapters, covering every era of the club from 1884 onwards and the ‘For The Record’ statistical chapter includes facts, dates and figures from Birr’s ‘A’ championship triumphs in hurling and gaelic football.
There is a chapter recounting the work that went into the official opening of St Brendan’s Park in 1928 and chapters on how Bro Wilfred’s Magpies provided much of the inspiration for Birr’s six county hurling championship title victories between 1938 & ’48 and on the massive contribution of the Presentation Brothers to Birr entitled ‘Nurturing Future Generations’.
While the ‘Dual Stars’ that kept gaelic football alive in the club are also remembered and celebrated.
The book also includes photographs of Birr GAA underage teams from 2012 and of the club management committee, minor club and lotto committees.
Chairperson of the “Magic Memories – Birr GAA Through The Lens” sub-committee, Martin McCarthy explained that they were honoured GAA President Liam O’Neill was performing the official launch of the book and DVD and he expressed sincere thanks to everyone that contributed photographs – particularly Pat Cotter (on behalf of his late father Paddy), Pat Cleary, Mike Davis, Meelie King, Paul Barber, Lily Tait, and Willie Smyth - and items of historical value for both productions.
He also thanked the 185 page sponsors and 73 patrons for their ‘enormous generosity in these difficult economic times’.
“We were overwhelmed and enthused by the messages of support and positive reaction we received from the many visitors to our photographic exhibition held during the Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival and I believe people won’t be disappointed by the book or DVD
either,” explained Mr McCarthy.
Mr McCarthy said the book and DVD will be treasured by GAA folk everywhere and he concluded by extending an open invitation to everyone from Birr, Offaly and beyond to attend Monday’s book and DVD launch, with the formalities getting underway at 8pm. Light refreshments will also be served.