County Colours - The Short Caption
The weekend of the WWP Colour
event was the same weekend as the 2008 Final of the All Ireland Gaelic Football County Championships
between County Kerry and County Tyrone. It is generally known in Ireland simply as "The All-Ireland Final
If you understand the significance of this I can simply say that these five huge (7m tall) steel statues, that make up the sculpture officially known as "Let the Dance Begin"
were dressed in the Tyrone County Colours as a gesture of enthusiastic support by people in the Tyrone town of Strabane.
County Colours - The Long Caption ... with background detail
Though it is played in very few places in the world outside Ireland, Gaelic Football (along with its sister sport Hurling) is the most popular sport in Ireland and has many enthusiastic players and spectators in each of the 32 counties of Ireland.
Irish forms of football were formally arranged into an organised playing code by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in 1887. However, there are historical references
to the pre-cursor informal game as early as 1527 and before.
Australian Rules Football is sufficiently similar that there are occasional games between a GAA team and an Australian Rules team. There is some debate amongst sport historians
as to whether Australian Rules Football may in fact be a variation of Gaelic Football or the result of Australian Aborigine influence on games such as Rugby.
While Ireland was partitioned in 1922 into the 26 counties making up the Republic of Ireland (which became independent from Britain) and the 6 counties that make up Northern Ireland (which became part of the UK) it was traditionally divided into four provinces - Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht. Ulster consisting of 9 counties is itself partitioned with 3 counties in the Republic and 6 making up N.Ireland.
The location of the statues depicted in this VR is almost on the line that is both the county boundary between Donegal and Tyrone (both in Ulster) and the border between N. Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Hence it is overlaid with much emotion and symbolism.
Each year the GAA Football county championship starts with four provincial contests - one in each of the traditional provinces. The final-stages of the All Ireland Championship then consists of a knock-out competition between the provincial champions and four teams that come through from a national best-of-the-rest competition. This culminates in the All-Ireland Final.
In the 2008 final Tyrone (Ulster) faced Kerry (Munster) in front of 82,000 spectators in Croke Park stadium in Dublin and a million more in front of televisions throughout Ireland. Kerry have a long tradition of success in this competition and indeed were winners in 2006 and 2007. They went into the match with many commentators expecting them to gain their third title in a row.
It is traditional for supporters in each county to display their county's colours in the weeks leading-up to the final. Driving around rural areas county flags can be seen flying in many villages and in the front gardens of houses. There is much "friendly rivalry" at county boundaries. The position of these statues on the County boundary between Tyrone and Donegal makes them particularly suited to this sort of display of County Colours.
The statues are 7m tall. They were designed by Maurice Harron
. Together they make up a sculpture that is officially called "Let the Dance Begin
" - it consists of two dancing figures and three musicians. Locally they are known affectionately as "The Tinneys
I photographed these statues, before
for the March 2006 Borders WWP event.
The caption from that event explains some of the background to the sculpture and the geo-political significance of the location. (Note that the link to the sculpture's website in that caption no longer works.)
After a closely fought game, and to the delight of their supporters throughout the County, the Tyrone team triumphed by 4 points! The final score was:
1-goal and 15-points vs Kerry
0-goals and 14-points.
There are lots of panoramas of Derry, just down the river, on my Very Derry
There will soon be panoramas from all over Ireland available from my Very Ireland