Hall of Fame Winner 2019 Jerry Grogan
Jerry left his native Kerry in the early 70s and, like thousands of other young people from rural Ireland, headed for the Capital, where he immediately embraced the culture of the City but, in particular, he became involved in Gaelic games activities.
Barely a wet week in the place & to facilitate maximum participation, Jerry organized internal school leagues catering for camogie, hurling, girls’ & boys’ football in his beloved Holy Trinity NS Donaghmeade – something which he had done earlier during his brief stay south of the Liffey while a member of the staff of Whitefriar Street NS. He succeeded in attracting large numbers & the relationship built up on the playing fields was carried into the classroom. Encouraged by the civil & kindly Jerry, the pupils became the beating heart of a thriving Gaeil na Tríonóide GAA Club where he himself played an active part as oifigeach & team mentor. The energetic Jerry felt the urge to do new things all the time, to continually reinvent the activites & the programme in order to stay alive & relevant. And so was born the daring initiative linking his native Cahersiveen with Holy Trinity. Jerry brought a group of children from his school in Donaghmede every other year on a visit to south Kerry where matches were played in St Mary’s GAA Club in the town. These gatherings were reciprocated with children from his native Cahersiveen making the long trip to Dublin. For many Dublin children it was their first time to taste the delights of rural living, while the south Kerry children were amazed at the sight of traffic lights & got their very first glimpse of the GPO & Clery’s clock. Lasting friendships were formed on these breaks & links have, in fact, strengthened with time.
With Jerry it has always been a matter of determination & just getting out there & doing it. As teacher & Principal, but, in particular, as school delegate to the weekly meetings of cumann na mBunscol in Club na Múinteoirí, Jerry strengthened the ties between his school & this voluntary organisation of primary teachers. With the other teacher delegates, he absorbed the atmosphere at these meetings, liked what he saw and soon was wedded to the philosophy of Cumann na mBunscol. The idea of working alongside an army of volunteers promoting a love of our games among the children of the Capital appealed to him. As elected officer, he became rúnaí of Santry Sports’ programme, flirted for a brief spell with the business of Development Officer, served as Cathaoirleach, but it is serving as PRO of Cumann na mBunscol that Jerry Grogan shines. Linking with a diverse network of individual teachers dedicated to the betterment of children’s lives through sport & working closely with the Officer Board, Jerry Grogan works tirelessly to gain publicity for the voluntary work of his colleagues while guiding cumann na mBunscol’s creative soul by his unyielding passion, innovation & clear direction to ensure that Cumann na mBunscol continues to be a forceful champion of volunteerism and community engagement.
Buoyed up by the success of the Cahersiveen project in bringing people closer together while breaking down barriers, Jerry spearheaded the Dublin –Alba Camanachd Exchange beginning in 1991 which provided Scottish children with the opportunity to travel to our Capital city and to gain first-hand knowledge of the history and culture of Ireland. A series of composite rules Hurling/Shinty games was staged over the week-end. The visitors, as well as their teachers, resided with host families. The invitation to make the return trip the following year was accepted with grace year after year by new players & their parents. Indeed, the families became firm friends and many messages were exchanged throughout the year while the players waited excitedly for their trip of a lifetime.
With the support of cumann na mBunscol Jerry Grogan cast the net further afield to establish more connection & friendship which came to pass when a contingent of Dublin hurlers landed in Luxembourg, played exhibition matches there & in Brussels, winning a whole new audience that was captivated by the skills of our national game. In the crowd for the first series of these matches was Richie Ryan then Commissioner in Brussels and who led the Dublin schools party in a tour of the impressive commission buildings.
The links of friendship forged with our Northern Ireland colleagues in 1934 still thrive and is very special to Jerry Grogan. Affectionately known as the Dublin-Belfast Friendship games, these annual exchanges provide 90 Dublin primary school pupils with the golden opportunity to represent their county wearing their much-loved blue & navy blue playing kit v teams from Antrim schools. Back on home turf, the delight he feels for the huge numbers of families new to our shores participating in school, club & county teams pleases him beyond measure.
Impressed by the passion & sense of fun that Jerry brings to his professional & voluntary work, colleagues – especially newly qualified colleagues – follow his lead. Always humourous, never offensive & with gentle chiding, as well as encouragement from Jerry the PRO, the army of recruits grows and soon are involved with school teams and are helping their pupils to grow up with friendships that last a lifetime, to grow up healthy and strong, to have happy memories, as well as the opportunity to develop their gifts and their character while participating in a programme of games. Is iomaí múinteoir a chas sé leis. Bhí sé tógtha riamh i ngach cás leis an dílseacht agus leis an omós a bhí acu dár gcluichí gaelacha.
Jerry’s happy-go-lucky nature, his sense of enjoyment & his effortless wit, ensure that his company is forever enjoyable. A person of many parts, Jerry Grogan is, in the words of Ronnie Drew’s ballad, “a man you don’t meet every day.” The genial countryman, now honorary Dub, is a most worthy recipient of the FODH prestigious award for 2019.