Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Exploring Ireland's connection with Celtic Football Club

Celtic Football Club has a massive support in Ireland north and south, with many fans regularly making the trek to watch their team in Glasgow, but what is the team's connection to the island?

Written by Brian McGuirk, a life-long Celtic supporter with a deep passion for Irish history and Celtic Football Club, Celtic FC – The Ireland Connection explores the deep-rooted links between Celtic Football Club, Ireland and the 90 million supporters of Irish descent throughout the world.

These links include: the club’s founder Brother Walfrid from Sligo; the first sod of turf on Celtic Park in 1892 from Donegal; why the Irish flag flies over the stadium; Celtic’s first manager, Willie Maley from Newry; emigration from Ireland to Scotland; and the many Irish players and those of Irish descent and staff who have played, or managed, at Celtic.

Mr McGuirk said, “Celtic will remain forever conscious and proud of its Irish roots, but for the supporters of this great club, this book has been written to state unequivocally ‘this is why we support Celtic’. Much has been written about Celtic over the years, but nothing has been written that clearly sets out why Irish people and the Diaspora worldwide support Celtic. There is one reason why we all do, ‘we know our history’.

Celtic FC – The Ireland Connection brings together a range of material to emphasise the Irish connection and identity of Celtic and its worldwide support.

Said Mr McGuirk, “Celtic is a club that we Irish and our Diaspora can proudly call our own. Celtic is our legacy, left to us by the courage and vision of Irish men like Brother Walfrid, John Glass and Pat Welsh. Many of the ‘great men’ involved in Celtic’s formation were immigrants into Glasgow from their native Ireland, a country crippled by famine and political unrest.

“We didn’t just happen to support Celtic; Celtic is a part of us. Celtic for us is so much more than a football club. Celtic is an institution, an identity and a celebration of being Irish or being of Ireland. Celtic is a legacy passed from generation to generation. Celtic is a way of life.”

Brian McGuirk comes from Dundalk in the County of Louth in the Republic of Ireland. A former chairman of Dun Dealgan Celtic Supporters Club in Dundalk and a former Leinster Representative of The Association of Irish Celtic Supporters’ Clubs, he has written a number of articles for various Celtic magazines.

A fascinating, must-read book for supporters of Celtic Football Club in Ireland, Scotland and around the world, Celtic FC – The Ireland Connection is published next week by Edinburgh-based Black & White Publishing in paperback at £9.99.

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