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Rossa's centenary celebrations point to bright future

By Declan Bogue

The centenary celebrations of one of the most illustrious names in Belfast GAA continue this weekend, when O'Donovan Rossa host a 'Santa Run' and launch a comprehensive study of the club's history.

Last January kicked off their celebrations when they began with some cultural events. Along with a few recitations of speeches from the year of their formation, local historian Jim McDermott gave a talk about the club coming together, what life was like on the Falls Road at the time and how other GAA clubs banded together at the same time.

On November 25, they hosted a Gala Dinner in the Europa Hotel with over 500 people present.

Today they will host a Santa Run which is either 2.5k or 5k around Falls Park, followed by a launch of their club history book 'Céad Bliain Ag Fás' (A hundred years-a-growing).

Club Treasurer Adrian Murray said: "Most of the organising of the activities can fall on the usual three or four people. It's no different from any other club. What we had this year in our club was a Chairman, Donal McKinney, who did it this year and did a really good job.

"There wasn't many involved bar myself and a couple of others. We ran a series of events and it's went from cultural events to juvenile tournaments, right throughout the year."

The club history is an unusual document of the genre. While there have been many excellent and informative club histories produced down through the years, this is definitely a more informal style that makes it eminently readable and less daunting than some.

Murray revealed: "There was a group pulled together to write the book. There were two people prominent in that; Christopher McDonnell was the main driver of it, along with Joe McCormack.

"A lot of these books can be just about the club and quite insular. So that if you are not a Rossa person, it might not be for you."

As well as detailing all the storied players for the club in football and hurling, they also have extensive sections on the thriving camogie - All-Ireland champions in 2008 - and handball wings of the club.

"It does appeal, not just to our own members, but to people in different GAA clubs in Belfast," said Murray.

The Cultúrlann Irish language centre on the Falls Road took delivery of an order, and have already asked Rossa for more copies as they sold out.

The book launch will also feature an exhibition with picture boards, displays of old club jerseys and medals, and have a DVD explaining the story of the club down through the years. It will be held in the Wolf and Whistle (formerly the Whitefort Inn) on the Andersonstown Road (3pm).

Around five years ago, Rossa sold their old clubhouse, but the spirit lives on and only last summer they unveiled ambitious plans for a rebuilding process at their site at Shaw's Road, launched by GAA President Aoghan ÓFearghail.

The book can be purchased at

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