Platform - It's More Than Just a Name in the Game
Byline: DUP MLA NELSON MCCAUSLAND
ON SUNDAY afternoon one of the semi-finals of the All-Ireland Club Senior Hurling championship was held in Dublin with a team from Belfast and another from Kilkenny.
The Belfast team was the O'Donovan Rossa GAA Club, which is based at Pairc Rossa on Shaw's Road in West Belfast and also operates a social club on the Falls Road. On their website there is a short club history which tells us that the club was founded in 1916 and that 'at its formation the membership was confined to volunteers'. This seems to be a reference to the Irish Volunteers.
Their opponents were the James Stephens GAA Club in Kilkenny, which was founded in 1887 as the James Stephens Hurling club. Both GAA clubs were named after prominent Irishmen but many people who are not Irish nationalists will be unaware of the significance of the names.
James Stephens (1825-1901) was one of the founders of the Fenian Brotherhood, a secret republican terrorist society formed in America in 1858. He was in charge of operations in Ireland and the movement eventually emerged in Ireland in 1867 as the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).
The GAA was formed in 1884, under the influence of the IRB, and in 1887, the year that the James Stephens Club was formed, the IRB took over the organisation completely.
Subsequently it lost its absolute control but it never relinquished its strong influence.
Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa (1831-1915) was another leading republican.
In 1858 he became a Fenian organiser at the invitation of Stephens but was arrested in 1865 and given a prison sentence.
Released in 1871 he emigrated to America and during the 1880s helped to orchestrate a dynamite bombing campaign in England.
In January 1881 some of his followers carried out a bomb attack on Salford barracks, in which a child was killed. …