The GAA Museum recently invited secondary school students to show off their writing prowess with an essay, short story or poem using the theme ‘’A GAA Legend”. Entries were then judged by a panel of talent-spotting experts, including writer Paul Howard, journalist Cliona Foley and Sean Love of Fighting Words.
The GAA museum received an overwhelming response to the competition, with hundreds of entries received throughout Ireland, in both English and Irish, across Junior and Senior. Scoil Ruáin is delighted to reveal Katie Riordan, a fifth-year student in Scoil Ruáin Killenaule, was awarded the overall prize in the English Senior Category. Katie’s original take on the competition’s theme highly impressed the judges. It is a fantastic achievement as there was only one winner and two runners-up in each category.
I asked Katie where her inspiration for her poem came from and this is what she said:
“Growing up, I always had an interest in Irish historical events, but I never took a liking to sports, if I’m honest. When I heard about the competition, I knew students would take the sports side of things and write about their sport experiences, but I decided to take a different route. Luckily for me, a few weeks before the competition, while rummaging in my attic, I came across ‘Knocknagow’, a book which was passed down on my dad’s side of the family. I then found a letter within the pages, a letter between Micheal and Delia from the 21st of November 1920- Bloody Sunday. As well as that, I knew dad’s grand uncles were members of the IRA and in particular, Sean Riordan who sadly was shot in Coalbrook, has a memorial in the area. I put two and two together and created a poem, which led me to victory”
Katie is daughter of Fergus and Samantha Riordan, Ballynonty and is also a past pupil of St. Mary’s National School in Killenaule. Unfortunately, due to the on-going government restrictions surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic the museum was unable to host their awards lunch for the winners and their families and teachers, but they are hoping to welcome back these talented writers to the Museum in the near future so they can collect their awards and certificates. We would like to also congratulate Katie’s English teacher Ms. Aoife Coote who mentored Katie and encouraged her to enter this prestigious competition. We are all very proud of Katie and thankful to Aoife for all their hard work and dedication in winning this poetry competition. A great future lies ahead for Katie. Well done again.
The credit of Knocknagow
History is never black or white,
In 2020, Black and Tan has coloured our thinking.
Remember, find closure, forgive, forget.
Any comment will release the spring loaded offended on social media.
My great grand uncle’s books passed down through the family,
Were many and varied,
But mostly covered Irish topics and GAA newspaper clippings.
Kept hidden away in his trunk of keepsakes.
A letter bookmarked pages 452,453 of his favourite book,
Where Matt the Thrasher uttered those favourite words,
“For the credit of the little village”
A nationalist who often spoke of Bloody Sunday
And as an orphan was moulded in Artane Industrial School,
Where Nationalism and GAA were inseparable.
I’m told that in later years,
He would read the letter and try to hide the tears.
The rigid unrepentant republican.
After a lifetime and with failing eyesight,
Perhaps saw things more clearly.
An ordinary couple of the extraordinary times,
A snippet from the day that shaped the years since,
Croke Park and battle ground seem unlikely companions,
But even those events of the past,
Under the modern day microscope,
I suppose you had to be there,
To see it
To feel it
Through that letter,
My grand uncle found his own answers,
And perhaps some peace.
Michael writing to Delia
Bloody Sunday (21/11/1920)
Envelope reveals the time and date, 10am 22nd Nov 1920