"I sat for awhile by the gap in the wall
Found a rusty tin can and an old hurling ball..."
Saturday was just one of those days; a day you are enjoying so much you fail to recognise the importance of it until afterwards.
I said to Richard McAuley early on Saturday morning,
“RG, did you ever think you’d see the day when our flags would be flying at Stormont?”
His answer was simple but significant,
“Yes”, he said. And he is right!
Fair play to Gerry A and the organisers of the event, it was for a good cause and was enjoyed by the hundreds of people, idir óg agus aosta, who came to take part.
Teams from across Belfast took part in the under-10 hurling blitz on the front lawns of Stormont, there was an open Poc competition held adjacent to Carson’s statue which saw serious hurlers, amateurs, tourists, kids and even a peeler take part in it!
Mothers and fathers came to watch their children take part, many had brought along their younger brothers and sisters to see their siblings play in the first ever Poc ar an Chnoc.
And of course there were those who had read about the event in the media and were curious to see this historic first. Some just came to avail of the atmosphere, families gathering with sandwiches and bunógaí, juice and sweets, kicking a ball about the place; together on a Saturday in summer.
Isn’t that what the whole day was about?
Later in the afternoon the celebrity Poc drew the attention of those assembled, eager to see who would win. MPs, MLAs, Ministers, a TD, an MEP, Boxing Champions, TV Presenters, Handball Champions, all gathered in the hope that they would beat Gerry Adams; which of course most of them did!
Finally the senior men and women’s Poc Fada took place throughout the estate with competitors from across Ireland taking part. Hurling and Camogie greats, wearing their specially designed ‘Poc ar an Chnoc’ kits from O’Neills, were accompanied by two of the young gaels from teams who had taken part in the under-10 blitz that morning, set about trying to win this inaugural competition. My money was on Down man Graham Clarke who had won Poc Fada na hÉireann the previous week in the Cooley mountains. I was proved correct when he came first in the men’s competition, and Gráinne Connolly won the women’s.
The participants and winners were presented with their trophies on the front steps of Stormont, under the shadow of the Trinity hurler himself.
It was a good day, a groundbreaking day, a day when Gaels from across Ireland showed that there is nowhere we can’t go, there are no places now where an expression of our rich culture cannot be displayed and more importantly where we can’t come together for a fun day and a bit of craic.
Bhí lá den scoth again uilig agus tá neart moladh tuilte acu suid uilig a d’eagraigh na himeachtaí, maith sibh féin!
The organisers deserve a big go raibh maith agat for the hard work and effort they put in to making the event such a success; I have no doubt that over the coming years Poc ar an Chnoc will only get bigger and better!