My father played Gaelic football most of his life. He was the captain of the County Leitrim team that won the New York G.A.A. Football Championship in 1932.
Sundays during the spring and summer months were a big day in the McGuire household. Mass in the morning was followed by a hearty breakfast and then off to Gaelic Park where Dad would either be playing or checking out the rival teams.
The park was, and still is, located just west of Broadway in the northwest section of the Bronx.
The Minor games started around noon and were followed by the Senior games — football and hurling. As the last game was being played, at around 5:00 p.m., you could go into the dance-hall area and get a full-size old-fashioned Irish meal of meat, potatoes and vegetables, which was never short in quantity and always superb in quality. An Irish band would start up a little later and dancing would go on until late in the evening.
If Leitrim had been on the card early in the day, Dad would stay to discuss the game with his buddies; if not, the McGuire family usually headed home after the senior football game.
We lived on the third floor of a walk-up in the Spanish Harlem section of Manhattan, but all our neighbors were from Ireland. Our apartment was in the back, which made for great socializing as the laundry was being hung out to dry.
If Dad had played the day before, you could be sure that the jersey and togs (shorts) were part of the first wash on Monday. If Leitrim had fared well, Dad would proudly take the chair next to the kitchen window and with uncanny accuracy perform a call-by-call of the game. If the outcome hadn’t been successful, he’d tell Mother to come away from the window and let the nosy neighbors alone. By mid-afternoon the jersey and togs had been reeled in, ironed, carefully folded and stored away for the next battle. ♦