An Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, or in english, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was founded in 1884 in Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
It started in an effort to organize and develop the ancient Irish games of hurling, football and handball, while also taking back control of Irish Athletics from english organizations. Although it was slow to get going, it grew on a parallel track with the rise of Irish Nationalism that eventually led to 26 of Ireland's 32 counties gaining independence in 1921. As the nationalist mood in the country rose, so too did the people's interest in their own games. The British tried to oppress the organization, suspecting (sometimes correctly) that the GAA was being used by nationalists to organize their anti-goverment efforts, but this back-fired as the people joined and supported the organization in a show of defiance. By the time Irish independence was achieved, the games were flourishing,
The two major sports the organization promotes are Gaelic Football and Hurling (including Ladies Football and 'Camogie' - Ladies Hurling). It also controls handball in Ireland, and rounders (an early form of baseball). Athletics was ceded to another organization in 1922.
The key to the organization's success is that it retains amatuer status, even to this day. Every parish in Ireland has a GAA Club, and the best club players are selected to represent their county in the all ireland championship. The two best counties qualify for each years final. On the first Sunday of September the All Ireland Hurling Final is played, and the All Ireland Football Final is played on the fourth Sunday of September.
In Western Mass our youth play Gaelic Football, and in addition we plan to do at least one hurling clinic in 2010.
Anyone aged 5 to 16 is eligible to join. There's no charge to play - we try to cover expenses via the generous donations of our sponsors (see 'our sponsors' page), and our monthly lotto. See the contact page for more information on how to reach a coach, OR check out the schedule page, and just show up at games or training.