St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Saturday

Giving a nod to the company’s Irish roots, Digicel has joined forces with the CI Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) for the Digicel St. Patrick’s Day Celebration taking place on Saturday, March 19th.

Digicel’s association with the annual event began shortly after the company’s launch in March 2004. Similar to last year’s event, the 2005 Digicel St. Patrick’s Day Celebration will feature a day of traditional Irish sports and other activities.

Digicel CEO JD Buckley commented on the company’s support of the GAA: ‘We are very pleased to once again support the Gaelic Athletics Association and the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The event is great fun and assists the club in its efforts to promote Gaelic football and to spread knowledge of Irish culture. Given our company’s Irish connections, we are very delighted to take part and invite people of all nationalities to join in,’ he said.

Taking place at the Rugby Club in South Sound, the Digicel St. Patrick’s Day Celebration’s format will follow that of previous years with a full schedule of Irish games.

A seven-a-side game of hurling will start the festivities off at 1:30pm. Hurling is a traditional Irish game similar to hockey, and is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick. The stick, or ‘hurley’ (called cam├ín in Irish) is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. The ball or ‘sliothar’ is similar in size to a hockey ball but has raised ridges.

Hurling is Europe’s oldest field game and the fastest ball sport in the world with the ball moving up and down the field at constant speeds of 100-120 mph. The game features in Irish folklore to illustrate the deeds of heroic mystical figures and it has been chronicled as a distinct Irish pastime for 2,000 years.

A Puc Fada competition will be another traditional Irish highlight of the day. Puc Fada is a contest to see who can hit the ball the farthest with a hurley stick. This competition was hotly contested at last year’s event and promises to be closely watched by spectators this year.

Gaelic Football will also be showcased at the Digicel St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. This traditional Irish sport can be described as a mixture of soccer and rugby, although it predates both of those games.

The ball used in Gaelic Football is round and slightly smaller than a soccer ball. It can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps and can be kicked or ‘hand-passed.’

Gaelic Football in the Cayman Islands traces its origins back to 1987 and interest in the sport grew through the 90’s as the Irish population on the Cayman Islands increased. An official Gaelic Football Club was formed in 1999, and is now known as the Cayman Islands Gaelic Athletics Association. With an initial membership of 30 players the club has expanded to over 70 playing members.

The Digicel St. Patrick’s Day Celebration will feature Ladies’ and Men’s Gaelic Football games, as well as a Married vs. Single Ladies soccer game and an Over 30 vs. Under 30 Men’s soccer game. Other games also include an Ireland v. Australia Aussie Rules Challenge.

Gaelic Football is very similar to Australian Rules football and it is thought that Australian Rules evolved from Gaelic Football through the many thousands of Irish emigrants who settled in Australia from the middle of the nineteenth century.

Other activities of the day will include a raffle, green Heineken beer specials throughout the day and festivities culminating with an Irish Stew dinner and party featuring DJ Jacko. The Gaelic Athletics Association’s Roger Casey gives further incentive to take part: ‘Apart from the fun, there are some great prizes on offer in the raffle.

As usual, people of all ages and nationalities are welcome and encouraged to come out on the day to just have a good time,’ he said.

For more information on the Digicel St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, contact Roger Casey on 914-5762 or Howard Byrne at 914-8936

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