President of GAA and Cultural Pioneer

April 3rd, 2017 | cultur

President of GAA and Cultural Pioneer

Presenting this year’s MacNamee Awards, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl described Pádraig MacNamee as ‘a man ahead of his times in many ways’. MacNamee, after whom the annual GAA awards for communication are named, was from South Armagh. Linwood’s Armagh TV were worthy recipients this year and they had an historical reason to feel gratified with their award.

Linwood’s Armagh TV are recognized throughout the country and further afield as being at the cutting edge of harnessing the extensive reach of modern technology to promote the GAA. A full list of this year’s MacNamee Award winners is here http://www.gaa.ie/news/2016-mcnamee-awards-winners-announced/

In September 1896 Pádraig MacNamee was born in Carrickasticken, Forkhill, South Armagh. As a child he came into contact with native speakers of Irish in his locality. In particular, he learned much from Margaret ‘Mothertha’ Kelly, at whose fireside he obsorbed many tales. Eoghan Eoghnaí Chonaill Ó Gallchóir was a peripatetic teacher for Conradh na Gaeilge at the time and he was an inspiration for the young Pádraig to a life-long love of Irish. Pádraig was certainly an adept pupil. He attended Drumintee N.S. and then secondary school in Dundalk. Having trained as a National School teacher in De La Salle College, Waterford, he completed a BA and an MA in the University of London. He spent some time teaching Irish in St. Mary’s College of Education, Belfast, before spending twenty years as principal of St. Patrick PS, Holywood, Co. Down. Exceptional though it was for a Catholic at the time, he was appointed as inspector of Irish with the Education Board for Northern Ireland. 

MacNamee was one of the founding members of Comhaltas Uladh in 1926 and was also an erudite and regular contributor to An tUltach, a monthly magazine promoting writing in Ulster Gaelic which remains in print today. He has been described by some as having been synonymous with An tUltach. When Fr. Lorcán Ó Muireadhaigh died in 1941, the directors of the highly renowned Donegal Gaeltacht college in Rannafast turned to Pádraig MacNamee to replace their former president. He also served on the RTÉ Authority.

MacNamee possessed strong leadership traits and certainly displayed these when he was elevated to the position of president of the GAA, serving from 1938 to 1943. His tenure will be remembered most for the removal of Douglas Hyde, the first president of the Republic of Ireland, from being a patron of the GAA, for attending a soccer international in the company of the then Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera. Support for foreign games was, at the time, contrary to rule. Ireland won the game against Poland in Dalymount Park in Novemver 1938 but by December of that year the Central Council of the GAA had taken the controversial decision to remove Hyde as patron despite him having already served as patron for thirty-six years. It was not until 1971 that Rule 27 was removed from the books.

What a difference a year makes. In 1972, a year after Rule 27 was revoked, St. Paul’s GAC came to the rescue of Holywood Cricket Club when the Road Authority drove a by-pass over their playing grounds. The Gaelic club generously provided playing space for their sporting neighbours for a quarter of a century thereafter. It was fitting therefore that St. Paul’s GAC, Holywood, took the decision to name their new pitch after Pádraig MacNamee in 1999. It was in Holywood, on the Southern coast of Belfast Lough, that MacNamee spent the greater part of his married and working life in the home he named Bláithín. On Good Friday, 28th March 1975, MacNamee died and was buried in Holywood.

A MacNamee Award for communication within the GAA is no small honour for the recipients for Pádraig MacNamee was undoubtedly a man of great eminence.

Réamonn Ó Ciaráin – National Irish Language Committee – GAA 

Pádraig Mac Con Midhe

Ag bronnadh Gradaim MacNamee i mbliana dúirt Aogán Ó Fearghaíl gur ‘ceannródaí ab ea Pádraig Mac Con Midhe, fear a bhí i bhfad chun cinn ar lucht a chomh-aimsire’.

B’as Ard Mhacha Theas Mac Con Midhe a bhfuil na duaiseanna cumarsáide seo ainmnithe i gcuimhne air. Bronnadh Gradam Mac Con Midhe ar Linwoods Armagh TV ar na mallaibh agus bhí cúis stairiúil ar leith ag muintir Ard Mhacha mórtas cine a bheith orthu. Tá Linwoods Armagh TV aitheanta ar fud na tíre as bheith ar tús cadhnaíochta ó thaobh cur chun cinn an CLG le húsáid na n-áiseanna is úire sa teicneolaíocht – Liosta iomlán de bhuaiteoirí Ghradaim MacNamee anseo http://www.gaa.ie/news/2016-mcnamee-awards-winners-announced/ 

I gCarraig A’ Stoicín, Foirceal na Cléire, in Ard Mhacha Theas a rugadh Pádraig Mac Con Midhe i Mí Mheán Fómhair 1896. Agus é beag óg  bhí cainteoirí Gaeilge ina gcónaí sa chomharsanacht chéanna leis. D’fhoghlaim Pádraig é féin Gaeilge go leor ag éisteacht le Maighréad ‘Modartha’ Uí Cheallaigh agus é ar cuairt aici nuair nach raibh ann ach tachrán. Chuaigh múinteoir spreagúil taistil de chuid Chonradh na Gaeilge, Eoghan Eoghnaí Chonaill Ó Gallchóir ó Anagaire, i bhfeidhm go mór ar an Phádraig óg.

Ba scoláire cumasach é Pádraig. Chuaigh sé ar scoil Náisiúnta i nDromainn Tí agus ar an mheánscoil i nDún Dealgan. Oileadh mar mhúinteoir náisiúnta é i gColáiste de La Salle, Port Láirge agus ar aghaidh leis le BE agus ME a bhaint amach in Ollscoil Londain. Chaith sé seal ag teagasc Gaeilge i gColáiste Oideachais Naomh Muire, Béal Feirste agus chaith sé scór bliain mar phríomhoide i mBunscoil Phádraig Naofa in Ard Mhic Nasca, Co. An Dúin. Ceapadh ina scrúdaitheoir Gaeilge é ag  Bord Oideachais Thuaisceart Éireann fosta, rud as an ghnáth do Chaitliceach ag an am.

Bhí Mac Con Midhe ar dhuine de bhunaitheoirí Chomhaltas Uladh i 1926 agus scríobh sé cuid mhór a bhí fíor-éirimiúil ar An tUltach. B’ansa an iris seo lena chroí i rith a shaoil. Ceapadh Mac Con Midhe ina uachtarán ar an choláiste chlúiteach Chonallach, Coláiste Bhríde Rann na Feirste, mar chomharba ar An Ath. Lorcán Ó Muireadhaigh . Chaith sé seal fosta ar Údarás RTÉ.

Bhí féith na ceannaireachta i Mac Con Midhe is cinnte agus léirigh sé é seo nuair a rinneadh Uachtarán ar an CLG  de mar theachta ó Chontae Aontroma (idir 1938 agus 1943). Is mó an chuimhne ar a sheal uachtaránachta de thairbhe gur baineadh Dubhghlas de hÍde, an chéad Uachtarán ar Phoblacht na hÉireann ag an am, de liosta na n-éarlamh ar an eagraíocht náisiúnta nuair a d’fhreastail sé ar chluiche sacair i gcuideachta an Taoisigh,  Éamon de Valera. 

Bhí an bua ag Éirinn ar an Pholainn sa chluiche seo i Mí na Samhna 1938 ar Pháirc Chnocán Uí Dhálaigh ach i Mí na Nollag rialaigh Lár-Chomhairle CLG a theideal mar éarlamh a bhaint de de hÍde. Bhí 36 bliain caite aige mar éarlamh cheana féin. Ba i 1971 a baineadh an riail chonspóideach seo ag cur cosc ar bhaill tacú le cluichí gallda, riail 27, de na leabhair.

B’oiriúnach mar a ainmníodh Páirc CLG Naomh Pól, Ard Mhic Nasca i gcuimhne ar Phádraig. Ba in Ard Mhic Nasca, ar an chósta ó dheas de Loch Lao, a chaith sé an chuid is mó dá shaol oibre agus pósta i dteach ar bhaist sé féin Bláithín air.  I 1972, bliain i ndiaidh do Riail 27 a bheith bainte den chlár, tháinig CLG Naomh Pól i dtarrtháil ar Chlub Cruicéid Ard Mhic Nasca, nuair a thiomáin Údarás na mbóithre cuar-bhóthar thar a bpáirceanna imeartha. Fá chroí mhór mhaith, thug CLG Ard Mhic Nasca spás imeartha do chlub an chruicéid go ceann ceathrú céid ina dhiaidh sin. Nach mór an difear a dhéanann bliain.  

Ar Aoine An Chéasta, 28 Márta 1975 a fuair Mac Con Midhe bás agus cuireadh in Ard Mhic Nasca é.

Ní beag an onóir mar sin ag duaiseoirí Ghradaim MacNamee mar fathach fir a bhí ann gan dabht.

Le Réamonn Ó Ciaráin – Coiste Náistiúnta na Gaeilge, CLG

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