TG4 today launched a new four part television documentary series Gualainn le Gualainn chronicling the history of Irish rugby from the birth of the sport on the playing fields of Trinity College in 1854 up to the glorious Grand Slam triumph in Wales’ Millennium Stadium in 2009.
The launch of the series took place in Trinity College Dublin, overlooking the historic playing fields where the new game was first played in Ireland. The launch was hosted by the just-retired legendary sports commentator Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, in the presence of a glittering host of Ireland’s greatest rugby players of the past sixty years, including members of the 1948 Grand Slam winning side.
Produced by Fastnet Films, the new series is predominantly a social history as opposed to a sports history and is largely concerned with the way in which the game has developed throughout the last hundred and fifty years. It chronicles the remarkable expansion of rugby into completely new social demographics in Ireland in recent years.
The production team unearthed some amazing old footage, including some very early matches at Trinity, club and inter-provincial matches going back to the early 1920s, two Ireland matches against France (1912 & 14) that pre-date any other known film of internationals by an Ireland team by at least a decade, and probably the highlight, both the France and Wales games from the 1948 Grand Slam winning season, never seen by Irish audiences, not even the players themselves.
In addition to the archival material, including films and photographs, the series also features interviews with over sixty current or former internationals, including greats such as Willie John McBride, Brian O'Driscoll, Jack Kyle, Jim McCarthy, Tom Kiernan, Syd Millar, Ollie Campbell, Tony Ward, Luke Fitzgerald, Dónal Lenihan, Syd Millar, Fergus Slattery, Conor O'Shea, Keith Wood, Mick Galwey, Ray McLoughlin and Willie Duggan as well as leading rugby writers Gerry Thornley, George Hook, Brendan Fanning, Eoin Murphy, Barry Coughlan, Alan English and Hugh Farrelly. The series also features, poignantly, an extremely entertaining interview with former international and Lion Moss Keane, one of the game’s great characters, recorded before he passed away last month.
Written and directed by Andrew Gallimore and produced by Morgan Bushe and Conor Barry, Gualainn le Gualainn was made with the funding support of the BAI Sound and Vision Scheme
Gualainn le Gualainn will be broadcast on TG4 on Wednesday nights at 9.30pm from November 10.
Rónán Ó Coisdealbha, Spórt TG4