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The Skibbereen Gaelic Athletic Association was founded on November 8th 1887, at a meeting in the Town Hall. It was one of the first clubs formed in West Cork and in the early days was called the William O’Brien Branch.

Initially, the club in Skibbereen played football only but for over a hundred years now the club has been a dual one, playing football and hurling.

Skibbereen won its first county title in football in what was then known as the middle grade in 1913. Skibbereen won a county intermediate football title in 1924.

The early 1930s was a particularly successful period for hurling and Skibbereen won three divisional junior titles in 31, 32 and 33 and were most unlucky to be beaten in three successive county finals.
Since the early 1960s the club has enjoyed more prosperity in football, but hurling is still very much part of the DNA in Skibbereen and there has been some very notable success in recent times.
The Skibbereen club has had a number of different bases since its foundation in 1887 and it was only in 1953 that the club came into possession of its current home at O’Donovan Rossa Park.
The Skibbereen club adopted the name O’Donovan Rossa in 1947.

The story of how the O’Donovan Rossa Park came to be is a fascinating one. On September 30th 1945, in the Town Hall, a meeting was held at which the O’Donovan Rossa Memorial Committee was formed. This came about following a suggestion by Dr Micheal O’Sullivan, while delivering a lecture on the life of O’Donovan Rossa to the Skibbereen Historical and Archaeological Society, that a plaque to the memory of the great Fenian should be erected in the town.

Such was the success of the Memorial Committee that they collected enough money to buy an eight acre site as they believed that a playing park in which the youth of the town could play our native Gaelic Games would be the best way to perpetuate the memory of O’Donovan Rossa.
The unveiling of the magnificent bust of Rossa at the entrance to the park took place on July 2nd 1950 and was performed by President of Ireland Sean T O’Kelly.

In 1953 the O’Donovan Rossa Memorial Committee handed over six acres to the GAA Club for a playing pitch, and the remaining 2 acres to the Town Council to provide a memorial park.
On the field of play, the club has enjoyed huge success at underage level since the 1970s. In football the club stepped up to intermediate ranks in 1983 and won the county intermediate title in 1985.
In 1992 came the ultimate success when the club won the county senior football championship and went on to also capture the Munster and All-Ireland senior club titles.

Many improvements have been carried out at Rossa Park over the years and the opening in early 2014 of a new astro-turf pitch ensures that the club has the most up-to-date facilities and in line with any club in the country.
The club caters for teams in both codes from U8 right up to senior and the addition of a vibrant ladies underage club in recent years is another hugely important development.

The story of the association in Skibbereen is very largely a social history of the parish. From the very beginning, way back in the 1880s the GAA has been one of the most prominent organisations in the parish. There is much more to it than just fielding teams and winning matches — it is about people. People make up the GAA – people from every walk of life, from the rank and file members right up to the top hierarchy, from those who start kicking a football or pucking a sliotar at 6 or 7 years of age, right up to the more senior members.

The O’Donovan Rossa GAA Club has a very rich vein running through it and it has a wonderful tradition. Its endurance and prosperity are a testimony to the dedication and enthusiasm of its members for over a century and a quarter.
Long may it last!



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