2021 marks the 130-year anniversary of the first recorded account of Gaelic games in Wellington and we can’t wait to celebrate this milestone on Saturday 12 June.

Ever since the first Irish person arrived on these shores, Gaelic games weren’t far behind. All throughout New Zealand, from Auckland to Dunedin, early newspaper articles describe games of Gaelic football and hurling drawing large crowds of spectators to view and participate in our national pastimes.

Here in Wellington, the earliest recorded mention of the ancient sport of hurling dates back to a New Year’s Day game in 1891, a full 130 years ago.

The love of Gaelic games and the sense of community that it fosters continues unabated to this day as can be seen every week where 200+ players gather to play and socialise over a BBQ and beer.

Saturday 12 June

To celebrate the achievements of everyone who has made Gaelic games a success in the capital over the decades, Wellington/Hutt Valley GFHA together with the Hutt Valley Irish society are hosting a celebration day on Saturday 12 June.

We have a bumper day of activities planned to mark the grand milestone. The day will commence with games at Awakāirangi Park in Upper Hutt from 10.30am. We’ll have intra-club women’s football and camogie games while our hurlers will take on our good friends from Canterbury. We hear Air New Zealand are chartering a few extra flights from Christchurch to Wellington for the game – one flight for hurleys alone.

The highlight of the day, however, is sure to be a past vs present men’s football match. Club legends such as Donal Kavanagh, John O’Toole and Vinny Grealish will take the field one more time to see what the current NZ champions are really made of. It’s not to be missed. Oh, and your much-anticipated 130-year t-shirts will be available to pick up at games.

Following the day’s activity (and granted we don’t have too many casualties), an evening of celebrations is promised at the Hutt Valley Irish Society on Raroa Road. A one-way bus – free of charge – will be departing Wellington railway station at 5.30pm, heading for the Irish society. You can book a seat for the bus on the Facebook event page. A full itinerary for the day can be found below.

Itinerary

TimeActivityDetails
Awakāirangi Park
10:30Women's footballIntra-club game
11:30CamogieIntra-club game
12:00HurlingCanterbury vs Wellington/Hutt Valley
13:00Men's footballPast vs present exhibition game
Hutt Valley Irish Society
17:30Bus pick-upFrom Wellington railway station to HVIS
18:30Finger foodOn arrival at HVIS
19:15Introductory speeches
19:30Video presentationHistory of Gaelic games in Wellington/Hutt Valley
20:00 Music by Shindig
20:30Video messagesMessages from past players/members
21:00Music by Shindig continues into the wee hours

Remember that we’re still in COVID-19 Alert Level one so make sure you scan in on your tracer app throughout the day. If you have any questions in the meantime, contact 130@wellingtongaa.com.