Meet the Connolly brothers from Castlegar who are champion hurlers, Gaeilgeoirí and hurley makers.

Pat and Máire Connolly have ten children – Máire, Sarah, John, Padraig, Michael, Philomena, Joe, Gerry, Tom, and Murt. The Connolly children grew up in Castlegar, with strong roots in the Connemara of their parents’ birth, and a deep pride in their country.

Joe, John, Michael and Gerry turned out to be champion hurlers.  The array of trophies in Pat and Máire’s living room would not look out of place in a hurling museum and is a testament to their hurling talents and sportsmanship, not only in the All-Ireland, but also in the Railway Cup, and a host of county championships.  As hurlers, it seemed they were unstoppable,

A bhfuil le buach ann san iománaíocht, tá sé buaite acu.

Their father Pat is particularly proud of their All-Ireland win for Galway in 1980, given that the Galway hurling team languished in the doldrums for so long.

But how did they grow up bilingual, so close to Galway city?  John Connolly was born in Connemara, but moved with his parents to Castlegar at the age of five. Despite being surrounded by English speakers, the children never lost their Irish, as their mother and father insisted that they speak it at home,

...Gaeilge teanga an tí i gcónaí.

The language and the Connemara traditions that their parents kept alive enabled them to keep a foot in two camps so that they felt equally at home when in Connemara as in Galway city. 

Such is the high regard that people have for this band of brothers, that Taoiseach Charles Haughey was present at the official opening of their joinery factory, in Laghtgeorge, County Galway. 

The relationship between a player and their hurley is a personal one, and something which develops as the skill of the hurler develops.  While Joe Connolly can see the benefits of plastic hurleys, especially for children, when it comes to playing in a match, the real thing is required.

Joe takes reporter Breandán Ó hEithir through the hurley making process. The starting point of every hurley’s journey is the raw wood, ash, which is carefully selected, and carved into planks. These are then placed in a special machine where they are planed down before being finished by hand. The entire process takes time and skill before the finished product emerges,

Tá sé cineál céim ar chéim, like, agus tagann an cruth an chamán air.

This episode of ‘Féach’ was broadcast on 7 May 1982. The reporter is Breandán Ó hEithir

'Féach’ was an Irish language current affairs programme which went out on RTÉ Television from 1967 to 1985.  Presenters and reporters were Breandán Ó hEithir, Prionsias Mac Aonghusa, Andy O’Mahony, Doireann Ní Bhriain,  Eamonn Ó Muirí, Mícheál Ó hUanacháin and Poilín Ní Chiaráin.