Belfast Telegraph

Project aims to identify every GAA Ulster member who went to the front

By John Porter

Evidence has emerged to suggest a significant number of GAA players swapped their jerseys for combat fatigues and their hurley sticks for rifles for the war effort in 1914.

Despite the GAA being seen as a breeding ground for Irish nationalism, the new research suggests many members flocked to sign up.

Research also suggests the association informally relaxed its ban on allowing members join the British military.

The Forgotten Gaelic Volunteers project is working to gather the names of every Ulster GAA member who fought in the First World War.

Part-funded by the UK Heritage fund, the project will work for the next nine months to produce an historically accurate document of those who took part in the war effort. Ulster GAA president Martin McAviney said: "Rather than reacting to an event, we looked at highlighting the heritage that links every community in Ulster."

"We wanted to do something that helped bring those communities together rather than see these forthcoming anniversaries as divisive events." Researchers have already uncovered names of All-Ireland finalists who took part in the Great War.

William Manning played in two finals for Antrim in 1911 and 1912. He died in France in March 1918.

Cookstown man Cathal Corey played football for Tyrone before joining the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

He was killed in 1915.

"The reaction has been absolutely positive.

"The First World War is part of history where we can see what we all have in common," added Mr McAviney.

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