Will Galway Beat Mayo? Book review by James Reddiough

 In History

There was never a Sunday when the two kind neighbours in Graffy would not bring us to see the big game between Mayo and the maroon of Galway it was highlight in our lives and a great day out to see the two rivals play in Castlebar and Tuam in the heat of what were real summers or so they seemed in the days of youth.

No wonder that I was delighted to see this book from Western People editor and author James Laffey from Foxford appear on the shelves to warm up the bitterly cold days of December 2017.  Will Galway beat Mayo? How a 1960’s GAA Rivalry Reawakened the West is indeed a welcome publication and all 400+ pages are most welcome and refreshing as they recall the glory days when Galway won three All Irelands in a row 1964 – 1966 and Mayo did not fare quite as well with two Connaught titles 1967 and 1969 but they were colourful times all the same.

This large town is full of interesting stories, quotes, facts and anecdotes that make it a good read as a narrative but also a reference work to be dipped into to capture the socio – economic times as well as the sporting saga that was Galway versus Mayo.

It is stitched together with historical details of an international, national and local nature and at the same time the atmosphere of the local west of Ireland town is all there in the lead up to the match and during and after also with humorous tales thrown in for good measure.

The changes of the 1960’s are all reflected and James refers to it as the Swinging sixties when  changes came to Ireland and continued in the 1970’s as the modernisation of rural Ireland commenced with the roll out of the ESB starting in the fifties a decade when Galway and Mayo won three All Irelands between them, there was the development of the phone network  too and the ballroom boom and the advent of Television when the first live Finals were televised as early as 1962 when Kerry met Roscommon and the 1963 bout between Galway and Dublin.  Not forgetting the famous transmission break down between Meath and Mayo in august 1967!

Newspapers archives and the wonderful photos add to the quality of this publication and there are pen pictures of people like Joe Corcoran God rest him and also the Galway lads like Jimmy Duggan a Mayo man who ended up playing with Galway.  The pen pictures of the key players painted with humour and empathy give this book the air of a memoir such is the author’s intimate knowledge of the lives of the men who donned the Green and Red, and Maroon.

This is a fountain of knowledge on the GAA and can go back to look at earlier generations and also is a very well written and excellently researched with references and detailed treatment of the emigration and migration of the time when over a half a million people left Ireland and the countryside and islands of the west for a better life in the east as in the case of Inishshark off the Galway coast at the opening of the book.

James Laffey is an awarding – winning sports and history author and no wonder with this being his second GAA book the first being a few years ago with The Road to ’51 and now Will Galway beat Mayo? He was also co – author of Powering the West with journalist Christy Loftus.  Will Galway beat Mayo? How a 1960’s GAA Rivalry Reawakened the West is set to be a bestseller and collector’s item as the definitive work on the west of Ireland GAA scene.  It is published in Hardback and retails at 25 Euros excellent value and a good read.

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