Beara man Declan O’Sullivan launches his book, When is the Tide Turning? Garnish GAA 1950 – 2015, at Lehanmore Community Centre at 8pm, Friday August 25th.Garnish GAA is the westernmost club on the Beara peninsula, and Declan, a native of Lehanmore, was one of five brothers – the others being Frank, John L, Cormac and Tadgh – who togged out in its green and gold jersey throughout the 1960s and ’70s.
After a career teaching at secondary level in Dublin, Declan finally found time to write a history of the club on his retirement. “What motivated me was the danger that it would be forgotten,” he says.
What he didn’t remember from his own experience, or learn from his colleagues in the GAA, he researched in the National Library in Dublin as well as in the archives of the Irish Examiner and the Southern Star.
Declan, the youngest in his family, grew up watching his brothers play football, and it seemed only natural to follow their lead. “There were many players I admired, like my brother John L, Dick Kelly, Ollie O’Sullivan and John Flor O’Sullivan.”
He remembers with affection Garnish GAA’s great rivalries with neighbouring clubs Urhan and Castletownbere. “Thankfully that was only ever on the field of play,” he says.
He has no difficulty settling on his own high point as a player. “I was lucky enough to be on the Garnish team that won the 1978 Beara Final. We brought home the Cormac O’Sullivan Cup for the first time.”
The win was all the more poignant, as the cup was named in honour of his late brother Cormac, another Garnish GAA stalwart, who died young in a drowning accident in 1973. “I think that Beara Final was a high point for the club as much as for me.”
As chronicled in When is the Tide Turning?, Garnish GAA has produced many outstanding footballers. “Garnish has always had players on the Beara teams, including the winning County Championship teams of 1967 and 1996, when Ollie O’Sullivan was Beara captain.
“We have regularly had players on Cork teams too. Women as well as men; our most successful footballer is Áine O’Sullivan, who has won an All-Ireland with the Cork Ladies.”
When is the Tide Turning? Garnish GAA 1950 – 2015 by Declan O’Sullivan launches at Lehanmore Community Centre at 8pm, Friday August 25th.