'GAA Generations' project seeking members to contribute

A new ‘GAA Generations’ research project is seeking young and old members of the Association to contribute their shared stories of identity, belonging, and place.

Guided by UNESCO chairs from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and Penn State University, with support from the National Office for Suicide Prevention, the social empathy project hopes to capture an inter-generational perspective of how involvement in the GAA has influenced participants’ life experiences.

GAA legend Michéal Ó Muircheartaigh has recorded a video encouraging people to get involved while Irish actor Cillian Murphy, as an ambassador to the UNESCO Centre in NUIG, will contribute a voice-over to a video highlighting the findings and impact of the youth-lead research.  

The project aims to recruit 1,000 young GAA members (aged 12-21 years-old) who will receive training in conducting a semi-structured interview with a person of influence in their life aged 55+. The older participants will also be given the opportunity to quiz their young interviewees on their GAA experiences and how it may have impacted their understanding of who they are. It aims to include the Irish diaspora’s perspective particularly through the club networks of north America and the UK.  

GAA Generations is jointly overseen by Professors Pat Dolan and Mark Brennan, chairs of the UNESCO Centres for Child and Family Research (NUIG) and Community, Leadership, and Youth Development (Penn State University), respectively. Professor Eamon O’Shea, former Tipperary hirling manager and inaugural Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) at the National University of Ireland, Galway, also sits on the steering group. Participants from the Dermot Earley Youth Leadership Initiative, the Future Leaders (TY) programme, and the association’s youth representative structures, as well as older members recruited through GAA’s Social Initiative have contributed to the project design.

Interested GAA members aged 12-21 must complete an expression of interest (with parental consent required for those aged U18). If the target of 1,000 participants is exceeded criteria including geographical coverage, Irish language participants, gender diversity, amongst others will be used in addition to an independently overseen lottery to select the youth researchers.

Professor Pat Dolan pictured at the launch of GAA Generations at Raheny GAA Club with younger and older members of GAA, LGFA and Camogie Clubs.
Professor Pat Dolan pictured at the launch of GAA Generations at Raheny GAA Club with younger and older members of GAA, LGFA and Camogie Clubs.

Their conversations with their selected ‘One Good Adult’ (aged 55+), recorded on a smart phone along with a photo of the participants, will be stored for prosperity and future research purposes on the GAA’s eLearning platform.

Uachtarán CLG Larry McCarthy said:

“This project further shows what the GAA is about: building community and connecting people across generations - and even long distances - to share our stories and to learn from one another. We are delighted to provide this opportunity to record these important stories as part of the GAA Generations project. “

Prof Pat Dolan, UNESCO chair NUI Galway, said:

“This project is particularly timely and unique as it gives younger and older people in the GAA the opportunity to put on an eternal record what belonging means to them in the context of their club community and county – at the same time as giving a new learning to us all on what connects us in our daily lives”.

Prof. Mark Brennan, UNESCO chair, Penn State University, noted:

“The GAA is doing an amazing thing with this project. There are rare opportunities for younger and older people to talk openly and equally about the opportunities and challenges they are facing now and have in the past. The ability to share these in the dual context of sport and community building, sets the GAA apart. It’s incredibly important work for now and for generations to come.”

This project has benefitted from funding from the HSE Mental Health division.

How to get involved?

If you are a GAA member aged 12-21 years (inclusive) and would like to participate in this research project please complete the expression of interest form HERE. Depending on the volume of applications received, it may not be possible to facilitate everyone due to the analysis of the data required. Participants must be able to participate in the webinar on Wednesday, Oct 13th at 5pm.

For further information contact gaagenerations@gaa.ie or Blánaid Carney at +353 (0) 1 819 2387