Author and Historian Seamus J. King
Gaelic Sunday was the response of the G.A.A. to a proclamation by the British authorities early in July 1918 prohibiting all ‘meetings, assemblies, or processions in public places’ without written authorisation from the police, writes Cashel Author and Historian Seamus J. King.
The G.A.A. responded in two ways. It forbade any club or part of the G.A.A. body to apply for a permit to play a game, ‘breaches of which were to be punishable by automatic and indefinite suspension’.
More dramatically the G.A.A.’s resistance went beyond non-compliance to actual defiance of the proclamation. County
Boards were instructed to hold a meeting of their club delegates with a view to organising a program of club matches to be held on August 4th. All these games were to start simultaneously at 3 pm and nowhere was a permit to be sought.
The press reported at the time that about 1,500 hurling, football and camogie matches were scheduled, that over 50,000 players were expected to participate and that many thousands more would turn out to watch.
The numbers that participated may not have been as great as the weather turned out to be atrocious. The football match planned for Castlegrace against Cahir was abandoned owing to the inclemency of the weather.
'The Nationalist' of August 7, 1918 reported that the match between Boherlahan and Cashel did go ahead.
The local correspondent reported that ‘notwithstanding the inclement nature of the afternoon a goodly muster foregathered in the sports field to witness the contest, which turned out as expected in an easy win for the All-Ireland champions. Neither team was at full strength, owing to the prevalence of ‘flu’ amongst them, but both fifteens gave a good exhibition of the national game.
The result was: Boherlahan 5 goals Cashel 1 goal 2 points. Mr J. Cahill, U.C, P.L.G., Cashel refereed.
The Cashel Brass Band played to the grounds, where an excellent musical selection was discoursed.
The band returned playing an inspiriting national air.
Throughout the entire proceedings there was nothing but perfect good order, and not an unseemly incident was associated with the festival. The local police were passive onlookers, and they did not in the least interfere with the match.’ The last sentence sums up the success of the G.A.A. defiance. There was no showdown between the British authorities and the G.A.A.
The authorities realised the impossibility of policing so many events and relented beforehand ‘a circular being sent out to the police to the effect that Gaelic games were no longer to be considered to fall under the terms of the July 4th proclamation.’