Humphrey Kelleher and Gráinne McElwain in the Croke Park Museum.

The story of the GAA silverware

TG4 series on 'Scéalta na gCorn'

Ask anybody in Ireland about Liam or Sam and the chances are they will know you are referring to the trophies presented to the All-Ireland senior hurling and football champions. But what about the 2,000 other pieces of GAA silverware around the country, how many of us know the stories of these cups, how they came into existence or how they receive their names?

New TG4 series, 'Scéalta na gCorn' sees presenter Gráinne McElwain travel across Ireland visiting clubs and county grounds, learning the lesser-known stories behind our nation’s trophies. She will find out how some cups are named after Irish revolutionary patriots such as Roger Casement and Terence McSwiney, how other trophies are named after clergy, others again after prominent GAA administrators, who have contributed to the development of the Association and how even more are named after players and grassroots members, their memory perpetuated through the trophies and cups named in their honour.

The series began last night with Gráinne visiting the nation’s capital to learn about the oldest known GAA trophy - the Silvermines Cup, dating from 1886. She goes to Faughs GAA Club to see a much-loved piece of silverware named after well-known publican Tommy Moore, who influenced the development of hurling and hears about the senior football cup donated by Clerys department store. She finds out about the Kathleen Mills Cup, commemorating one of the most decorated players of all time, and visits the Croke Park Museum to meet Sam and Liam, two of Ireland’s best-known pieces of silverware.

Episode two next Wednesday takes Gráinne to her native Monaghan, a county that has seen a recent growth in Gaelic games silverware with new cups replacing old ones. She hears the trans-Atlantic story behind the American Cup and finds out about the Gloria Corrigan Memorial Tournament. She pays a visit to the county’s up and coming Rounders stars to learn about Corn Aodh Rua and meets some old friends including former GAA president, Páraic Ó Dufaigh, and school principal, Brendan Ó Dufaigh.

Gráinne and Damien Ó Dónaill with the Rann na Feirste trophy.

All roads lead to the saffron county in episode three. Antrim is a hurling stronghold and Gráinne is keen to find out about the Volunteer Cup, known fondly as Big Ears, as well as Roger Casement’s historical role in the competition for the Shield of Heroes. It’s not all about hurling though and Gráinne goes to Belfast to discover more about senior football and the Seamus McFerran Cup and a local club that presents a trophy in fond memory of 16-year-old camóg Bronagh Kelly. She meets John Gough, referee of a controversial All-Ireland Football final and discovers silverware isn’t just for the players.

Gráinne and Seán de Paor with Canon Oliver Hughes trophy.

Episode four takes Gráinne to the most northerly county – Donegal. Better known today as a football stronghold, Gráinne discovers the northwest has historical links to both hurling and camogie. She finds out about a much-loved priest who has three cups named in his honour and before visiting county home grounds Páirc Mhic Cumhaill, to learn about The Democrat Cup and the importance local newspapers played in Donegal’s sporting tradition.

Episode five sees McElwain travel to the west, to her adopted home county of Galway. Here she learns about one of the oldest trophies in the country, The Odlums Irish Purtiy Cup and she visits a local handball club that teams up with Gael Linn for a very special tournament. Gráinne meets the family of young footballer Pia McDermott Geraghty who continues to be remembered in silverware and she travels to Ballinasloe to find out about legendary Galway hurler Michael ‘Inky’ Flaherty.

Tom Lyons and Grainne with the Little Norah Trophy.

The Scéalta na gCorn series finishes in the rebel county, Cork, triumphant All-Ireland winners across football, hurling and camogie throughout the decades. A county steeped in history, Gráinne is keen to find out about some of the silverware honouring patriots such as John ‘Flyer’ Nyhan and his deep connection with the War of Independence and former Cork Lord Mayors, Tomás Mac Curtáin and Traolach Mac Suibhne. She will also hear about the trophies named in honour of some of the county’s influential women in football such as Mary Quinn and a curiously named cup called Little Norah.

Produced by Imagine Media, with support from NI Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund, ‘Scéalta na gCorn’ broadcasts on TG4 weekly from Wednesday 14th September at 8.30pm.