DUBLIN BEAT GALWAY to claim the Sam Maguire while Kilkenny flayed Limerick to win the hurling crown. The year was 1974 and the championship wins coincided with the creation of another Gaelic outpost.
The Irish Social and Sporting Club in Vancouver is celebrating its 40th year in 2014 and, due to flight increases and Ireland’s economic travails, it is more popular than ever. It also helps, in the words of member Tadhg Egan, when have have ‘the opportunity to ski, golf, hit the beach and play GAA, all in one day’.
Egan has been in Canada’s westernmost province since early 2011 and told TheScore.ie he left Ireland due to a mix of work and lifestyle reasons. He found work with a downtown law firm and is completing the conversion process to qualify as a lawyer there.
There has been an influx of Irish arriving in Canada in the past six years. At the beginning of 2014, some 7,500 work visas were snapped up in less than an hour. With that, the ISSC has prospered.
Egan commented, “As a club we host our own internal competitions for all codes and we also compete in the Western Canadian GAA Championship which we are hosting at the start of August this year.
“Teams will be coming from Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Fort McMurray (All Alberta), Regina (Saskatchewan) and this year a team from Seattle Gaels will be travelling to attend. Next year the competition will be hosted in Alberta, which means a good road trip across the Rocky Mountains awaits the Vancouver teams.”
Canadian teams have been competing — in a piecemeal manner at first but now as genuine challengers — in the North American championships since 2010. Teams will travel from Vancouver to Boston, in September, for this year’s staging.
Eastern seaboard states in America, Egan says, attract more players as it is closer to Ireland and many of its clubs are able to offer financial and work incentives to prospective players. Toronto is another popular destination but the game is growing far and wide in Canada. According to Egan, a Canadian GAA Championship is not far off becoming a reality.
For more on the Irish Sporting and Social Club in Vancouver, click here.