‘This story is not about sport alone. This is a story about what Irish emigrants abroad have achieved despite a lack of resources, despite still living in the shadow of our neighbour across the water, and despite being weighed down by the stupidity of some of the decisions made by our politicians.
Even today none of us takes the decision lightly to leave our family and friends and go and try our hand in another country. But if we do … thanks to those who have gone before us, there is often a community ready and waiting to help us out on our arrival … You will find new friends and team mates who will do everything they can to support you. It won’t exactly be the same as your home parish — nothing ever could be. But what you can do is band together with these people to build something new and vibrant that you can all be proud of — a parish far from home.’ From the Preface
All over Europe, Irish ex-pats are playing Gaelic football, sometimes along with locals or with other ex-pats from Australia and America. A whole network of GAA clubs has sprung up across the continent and they even have their own administrative structure, the European County Board, affiliated to the GAA.
Philip O’Connor’s marvellous book is an account of one year in the life of one player and one club in one country. You wouldn’t normally associate the GAA with Sweden or with continental Europe generally but it’s there, wherever there are Irish exiles to nurture it — in parishes far from home.
Philip O’Connor lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children, where he runs his own communications company. He is also PRO of the European County Board of the GAA. This is his first book.