Monday 24 September 2018

Croke park celebrates heroes of the past and present in 1916 spectacular

Performers during the Laochra entertainment performance after the Allianz Football League Final.
Performers during the Laochra entertainment performance after the Allianz Football League Final.

Croke Park took centre stage following Dublin's league victory as the GAA went all out for its special 1916 celebrations.

Attracting a near capacity crowd, the GAA's post-match spectacular, Laochra, thrilled fans of all counties and colours.

Laochra, the Irish word for heroes, brought together the best of culture and entertained the tens of thousands who gathered earlier for the national football league finals.

The stunning pageant recalled heroes old and new, and there was a nod to the GAA's roots in Celtic culture as well as its community clubs.

Beginning with the epic tales of Cu Chulainn and the Tain Bo Cuailgne, more than 3,500 performers kept fans spellbound.

Meanwhile, the words of GAA founder Michael Cusack boomed across the pitch, extolling the games that required "strength, skill and staying power".

The quotes of patriots continued to echo around the stadium, among them the words of the first president of Ireland, Douglas Hyde: "The Gaelic League was found not upon hate of England, but upon love of Ireland.

It was rare to see fans in Croker so united in reverence, only breaking their silence to burst into cheers and thunderous applause.

Singer Lisa Lambe had everybody captivated with a rendition of The Foggy Dew that hung in the April evening air.

Legendary battles and nation- building rebellion were not the only themes.

Those who died in the Famine, those lost in fighting in World War One and the emigrants who left for new lives in America, Britain and Australia were also deemed heroic.

However, it was the GAA community both in Ireland and abroad that was lauded in the grand finale.

Flags of many colours flooded the stadium as clubs great and small joined in the day, with children from every county reading a line of the Proclamation.


The voices of those who could not make it were also heard, with video recordings from clubs from Canada to Korea.

Gaelic games icon Micheal O Muircheartaigh joined the heroes of 1916 when he gave his own rousing speech in the final minutes of the display.

"Across the four provinces of Ireland and around the world, people play our national sport that our ancestors created many, many years ago," he said.

"Full of pride and passion, fearless men and women have dedicated their lives to magnificent scopes, spilling tears and sweat on hallowed ground.

"We march behind the colours of club and county. The GAA belongs to us all."

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