Dion Fanning – Farewell the GAA summer and all the things I learned

Dion Fanning, Irishman, returned to Dublin this year after 20 years away.


Again he lived the carnival that is the Gaelic Athletics Association (Cumann Lúthchleas Gael). This time, with a new appreciation for the meaning of sport in people’s lives.


Super piece; with obvious parallels to our native game:

Farewell the GAA summer and all the things I learned



“…If sport is primarily about escape, it is about familiarity too. The rules of a game provide the structure and there is comfort in escaping in this orderly fashion.

We make it all part of the ceremony.  We call what takes place beforehand pre-match rituals, marking them out as observances that prepare us for what is coming next.

And then we incorporate them into the rhythms of our own life, creating a shape beyond the game which sometimes takes on as profound a meaning. 

For some, it will because we did these things as children. We went to the match with our father or mother holding our hand, which in itself provided another layer of comfort and safety, another sense that this is a place where we can escape and belong simultaneously.  Sometimes we try and preserve these rituals when we go alone or without the people who at one time we thought would be a constant in our lives.

When Offaly won the All-Ireland for the first time in 1981, my uncle Jimmy turned to my mother and me and, with tears in his eyes, said, “I have to go now.””


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