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April 14 - April 20, 2004 Community Times P.O. Box 203 Westminster MD 21158 Ph: 410-875-5449 Fax: 410-875-5401
Saturday, APR 17, 2004
 
Owings Mills couple brings ancient Irish games to town
SUSAN C. INGRAM 23.MAR.04

Lucy Prendeville of Owings Mills didn't know what camogie was when her Irish grandmother told her she should learn to play it.

The sport of camogie, which is the woman's version of the Gaelic game of hurling, is 100 years old this year. Because of the efforts of Prendeville and her husband, Tadgh, camogie, hurling and Gaelic football are now available to sports enthusiasts in Baltimore.

Said to have originated in Galway in the 1500s, Gaelic football is younger than its cousin sport of hurling, which is believed to have been around at least since the fifth century and was popular with Vikings, who periodically invaded Ireland.

Gaelic football is traditionally played with a ball that is a bit smaller than a soccer ball, and on a field a bit larger than an American football field.

The ball can be carried in the hand, but not for more than four steps, after which it must be bounced on the ground or off the foot. It can also be kicked, or hit with the hand. The field has goal posts, and striking the ball over the post scores one point. Hitting it under the post in the net scores three points.

Games are an hour long, with two halves separated by a 10-minute break.

Hurling and camogie are played on the same field. They generally have the same rules, but hurling uses a "hurl" stick and a smaller ball.

Following a visit to her grandmother in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, a few years ago, Prendeville returned to Baltimore with a mission.

"I went to a meeting of the D.C. Gaels and said I wanted to start a camogie team," she said. "That was in 1999."

And so she did.

Now the Washington D.C. Gaels Gaelic Athletic Association has a women's camogie team, along with their men's and women's Gaelic football teams.

But that wasn't enough for Prendeville. After striking up a friendship with Tadgh, her future husband and native of County Kerry, Ireland, the two began car-pooling to D.C. They were the only two Baltimoreans in the club.

"So, we said, we should think about starting a team in Baltimore," Prendeville said.

And so they did.

Well, the pair got married first, in 2002, and the Baltimore Gaelic Athletic Association was officially off the ground last year.

The association practices at the Patterson Park rec center on Wednesday evenings through the end of April from 7:30-9 p.m. It alternates between Gaelic football and camogie/hurling each week. All teams are co-ed.

The Prendevilles are forming four teams of nine members each for summer league games.

The Baltimore Gaelic Athletic Association is promoting the Irish sports. Members of the group recently participated in Baltimore's Irish Parade in the back of a pick-up truck with a 15-foot plywood mock-up of a hurl stick.

Prendeville said that Baltimore's Irish cultural groups and pubs have been very supportive of the organization. She pointed out that people don't have to be from the Emerald Isle to play Gaelic sports.

Most members are between 20 and 40 years old, but there is no age limit. A youth league is planned for the future.

"No experience is necessary. You don't have to be Irish. You just have to want to try it," she said.


For more information, go to www.baltimoregaa.com, e-mail baltimoregaa@hotmail.com or call 410-902-7264. The membership fee is $30 per year.
 
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