VIEW OF THE FUTURE: GAA FOUND IN TYRONE IN 2221
BY CLAMPED CANDY
Talk of schools putting GAA in History lessons. Might as well make a start. Football fading into the distant past. Can envisage Irish archaeologists in a couple of hundred years time finding what they believe to be the site of an ancient sporting ritual. Something to rival the great Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Where a primitive, savage form of football was first thought to have been played.
Deep in the heart of Tyrone, these archaeologists find a long, forgotten expanse, surrounded by steep, weed covered banks. Maybe used as a vantage point for local villagers to watch the spectacle. A white chalk or paint like substance marking out the perimeter of the arena. Tattered flags set at various distances along the field of play. Some at 45 metres from each end. Although some dispute as to whether it’s 50 yards, not 45 metres. Two long, wooden uprights at either side, possibly marking the territory of the ‘players’ taking part.
The experts finding fragments resembling the shape of human gums and teeth which may have been used to protect the mouths of those doing battle. Although after examination, it may turn out that the fragments are, actually, the gums and teeth of those taking part. A whistle. Possibly used to call protagonists to order during these rituals. A little book, with names scribbled inside. Names of significance? Worthy of recording? And coloured cards. Red, yellow, black. Could these have been used to distinguish those who had shown some form of bravery in combat. A signal to the massed hordes watching perhaps.
In one corner, a large, dilapidated board, with strange lettering and numerals. Deciphered by experts in ancient hieroglyphs. Something like,. Pomeroy 0-9…. Ardboe 0-8. Who were these ‘Pomeroy’ and ‘Ardboe’? Tribes meeting to resolve disputes? And the numbers, maybe signifying those sacrificed by the tribes taking part. Further excavations will reveal small dugouts or huts on each side of the flat expanse. Filled with ragged, threadbare clothing with numbers on the back and the same names as on the board. They will deduce that the garments were part of the attire worn before going into battle to replace those bludgeoned in the fray. Empty water vessels litter the arena. Sponges, spray cans and potions also plentiful. Experts speculate that these may have been used by witch doctors as remedies to force the injured back into the melee.
One lone, discarded piece of footwear. Maybe lost by a fleeing participant. And two long white coats found in an adjacent area, ripped and bloodstained, may be related to the site. Although no ‘ball’ will be found it will be presumed there was. Or perhaps a human skull was used in a macabre resemblance to what some experts say the ancient Mesoamericans did. Whatever, many of the remnants found will remain a mystery, and forever open to conjecture. But those names, Pomeroy and Ardboe will be synonymous with Machu and Tenochtitlan, as honorifics of great awe and wonder.