Conamara businessman Nioclás Ó Conchubhair remembers the somewhat ironic situation that arose at the first ever Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta held in Gaoth Dobhair in the Donegal Gaeltacht in 1970.
Nioclás – one of the founders of this All-Ireland competition that caters for Gaelic football clubs in Gaeltacht areas – recalls asking fellow founding member, Feardorcha Ó Colla, if he could give his welcoming address in English.
That’s because the Conamara contingent had trouble deciphering Feardorcha’s Donegal dialect.
“When he started talking Irish to us, we hadn’t a clue what he was saying! I had to say to him eventually, ‘could we just have a few words in English?’,” laughs Nioclás of the late Feardorcha. The Gaoth Dobhair man later became an RnaG employee and was also known as Freddie Coll.
As well as being a founder member of Comórtas, Nioclás was a player on the Galway Gaeltacht team that won the inaugural competition with an amalgam of players from four clubs – An Spidéal, Micheál Breathnachs, Leitir Móir and Carna.
Over this June Bank Holiday weekend, Comórtas comes to Ceantar na n-Oiléan, home of Naomh Anna Leitir Móir, a club founded in 1964 by a number of local GAA enthusiasts, including Nioclás Ó Conchubhair who was its first secretary.
Now, as club president, he’s looking forward the prestigious competition returning to Leitir Móir.
“It has developed into a huge thing since we won it in 1970,” he says. “We were supposed to host it in 2020, but it was cancelled due to Covid-19.
“It creates great excitement in the area. It’s getting stronger every year. The best thing about it is bringing Irish-language speakers together on a playing field. It’s unusual,” he adds.
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