GAA president Aogain O Fearghail and his wife Frances with members of young Clonmel musicial group Na Tractalai.
GAA president Aogain O Fearghail paid glowing tribute to South Tipperary GAA Centre and its founding fathers when he visited the centre this weekend to mark its 40th anniversary.
Those who started the Clonmel centre in 1977 had shown wonderful vision and it remained as relevant today as it was forty years ago, he said.
He said inclusivity was essential in the GAA and the Clonmel centre played a key role in that, in bringing all clubs in the division together and also opening its doors to other groups.
"We all need to belong and the GAA is a perfect example of that", the Cavan man told a packed audience.
He remarked that Tipperary had a proud tradition in the GAA. Not only was it founded in Thurles but he believed its roots went back further, to Mullinahone's Charles J Kickham and his wonderful novel 'Knocknagow'.
The novel's theme of doing one's best for the 'honour of the little village' was built on by the GAA and developed.
Young musician Roisin Barry makes a presentation to Frances O Fearghail.
Mr O Fearghail pointed out that preserving culture was also a cornerstone of the GAA and nowhere was it better exemplifed than in the entertainment provided at the centre's anniversary.
A wonderful group of young local entertainers, Na Tractalai, mesmerised the president, his wife Frances and all the audience for the brilliance of their music, singing and dancing.
Their range of instruments went from the tin whistle to the harp, the fiddle to the flute, and they showed that traditional music is alive and well ini Clonmel.
Tributes were paid to the group's mentors, and Mr O Fearghail and his wife insisted on posing for photographs with the group at the end of proceedings.
The musicians were Niall, David, Kevin and Roisin Barry, and Naoise and Oisin Forristal.
The president was welcomed to Clonmel by GAA Centre chairman Sean Nugent; South Board chairman Michael Cooney; and County Board chairman Michael Bourke.
Meanwhile local historian and long time centre stalwart Seamus Leahy recounted many of the events that took place in the Western Road centre over the past forty years.
Like all speakers, he paid tribute to the efforts of two men who were no longer with us, Tipperary hurling legend Mick Maher, and South Board officer Tom Cusack, for their huge input.
South Tipperary GAA Board president Michael O'Meara makes a presentation to Aogain O Fearghail.
He said that Maher had brought four Clonmel clubs together at the start of the centre and many thought that impossible as it was difficult to get the four clubs to agree on anything!
"But whether it was handling Cork forwards in his playing days or awkward farmers when County Agricultural Officer, Mick Maher was able to do most things", Mr Leahy said.
South Board president Michael O'Meara made a presentation to Mr o Fearghail to mark his visit.
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