GAA Social Initiative

The GAA Social Initiative is a community based project engaging older men who may for one reason or another participate infrequently in local community life. It aims to encourage greater participation in community activity by inviting them to special events at the local GAA Club with a view to developing contact, friendships and ongoing support. The initiative was launched by President McAleese in Croke Park on February 26th 2009. 

Clubs in ireland were asked to participate in the Pilot Project for the 'GAA Social Initiative' and St Rynaghs Football Club applied and were selected. The project will be launched in the October/November period and the club will be sending up people to the launch in Croke Park. This is a perfect time for the club to develop relationships with older men in the community and even though this initiative is aimed towards older men, the club also plans to include women in the activities and functions we have. The new club development that is currently under way will give us the facilities to have any activity we want.

Press Release from GAA HQ

The Initiative was established by the GAA in 2009 in conjunction with Áras an Uachtaráin in an effort to provide a social outlet for older male members of society and particularly those in rural areas. It is a community-based project aimed at older men who would benefit from an enhanced engagement within the local community. 

The initiative was first considered when President Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin, began to notice an absence of older men in attendance at official functions during their many visits to local communities over the years. 

The 'GAA Social Initiative' is being launched as an island-wide project utilising the GAA Club network as a vehicle to engage older men, integrate them fully in society and ensure their many talents are not lost to their communities. Participation in the project will involve the clubs organising social activities in their respective areas - some of which will be GAA orientated. However, it is important to note that the Initiative is not exclusive to GAA members and the hope would be to have all men within a Club's parish to be made feel welcome. 

All GAA clubs have been invited to participate in an island-wide Pilot Project that is limited to two clubs per county. Individual clubs may also apply as part of a 'cluster' or group of clubs.  Many excellent applications have been received already and great interest in the Initiative is evident throughout the organisation.  However, there are a number of counties yet to fill the quota and, accordingly, clubs are urged to submit applications immediately to take advantage of these vacancies. 

If implemented correctly the scheme has the potential to transform the lives of the individuals involved and contribute significantly to community life. These men have no doubt contributed handsomely in various ways to their respective communities in the past and the project provides an ideal opportunity for the community to express their deep gratitude to them while also offering the men the opportunity to continue to utilise their great experience and wisdom for the benefit of society. 

A Training Day for volunteers from the clubs selected to participate in the project will take place on October 16 in Croke Park.  The training programme will be opened by Dr. Martin McAleese who is taking a personal interest in the Initiative.


1.    Background.  The GAA Social Initiative arose as a result of President Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin, noticing an absence of older men in attendance at official functions during their many visits to local communities over the years.  They established a Forum in 2007 consisting of selected older men – leading academics, health and social care professionals, service providers and local and national representatives - to explore the reasons why some older men are, for various reasons, no longer participating in local community life.  

2.    The Forum.  The Forum participants identified a number of factors which would support local engagement by older men, including:

  • Strong leadership in the community;
  • A specific event to which men could be invited;
  • A personal invitation;
  • An approach which accords respect and dignity to the older person;
  • Ongoing companionship and support;
  • The need for perseverance in building sustainable contact.
3.    GAA Social Initiative.  Subsequently, the President invited the GAA to implement some of these ideas and arising from this, The ‘GAA Social Initiative’ is being launched as a club-based, island-wide project utilising the GAA club network as a vehicle to engage older men who are not currently participating in local community life.  
4. Organisational Structure.  The Initiative is to be implemented through a discrete Charitable Trust.  The Trust will be chaired by Uachtaran, Cumann Luthcleas Gael, Criostoir O Cuana and comprise a Project Manager, Advisory Board and Board of Directors.    
5. Pilot Project.  A Pilot Project is being conducted as a first step in the implementation the Initiative.  This will involve approximately 50 clubs being selected to lead the way in organising social activities and events for older men in their areas.  Although, inevitably, many of these events will be GAA-oriented, the Initiative is not meant to be exclusive to GAA members and all older men within our club areas are to be made welcome.  

6. Conclusion.   This Initiative, having been launched by President Mary McAleese, has a special status and there is a commensurate onus on GAA to respond to the challenge inherent in President McAleese’s invitation.  It also provides an opportunity for the GAA to once again show its great heart by utilising the vast network of outstanding community volunteers that we are fortunate to have in our ranks.  I am available to discuss the Initiative directly with you at any time and can be contacted at 01 8658617 or 087 9835810.

Mise le meas,

Seán Mac Giolla Bhríde   (Seán Kilbrde)
Bainisteoir Scéim Tionscnaimh Shóisialta  (Social Initiative Project Manager)

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12 Apr 2011, 13:27
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12 Apr 2011, 13:15