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Meet the Portland Gaelic Athletic Association

The Portland Gaelic Football Club is more than just a sport. It's a community, a cultural experience, and a family legacy all wrapped into one.

The club, started in Portland by Chairman Ryan Clancy in 2017, grew to become one of the biggest and most competitive teams in their division in Boston.

In an effort to bring the Irish community in Maine closer, Ryan successfully combined his efforts with the Portland Hurling Club to create something truly unique in Maine, the Portland Gaelic Athletic Association. This is an amalgamation of both teams into one club.

“For many of us, playing hurling or Gaelic football is more than just a game — it's a connection to our Irish heritage,” said Ryan. “By bringing these two sports under one umbrella, we’ve increased the sense of connectedness and community we were longing for.”

Though Irish Football was not widely documented before the 1600s, the earliest known records of a recognized precursor to modern Gaelic football date back to a game played in in 1670.

Hurling, another famous sport of Ireland, is older than recorded history and is thought to pre-date the arrival of the Celts.

Both sports are considered an intrinsic part of Irish culture and play a central role in promoting health and wellness, inclusiveness and team spirit for the people of Ireland.

Ryan’s grandfather, Patrick Clancy, played for the prestigious Hartford Gaelic Athletic Association, as did Ryan’s father, who even traveled to New York and played at a stadium dedicated solely to Gaelic sports.

Following in their footsteps, Ryan also embraced the same passion for the thrilling sport. This ancestral connection fills him with pride, and every victory fuels him with a renewed determination to uphold his cherished family legacy.

Ryan said that while Gaelic Football may not be as widely recognized as hurling, it holds the distinction of being one of the world's oldest sports, and boasts the reputation of being one of the fastest games on grass.
There may be some cultural misconceptions, he explained, but skeptics are often won over after experiencing the exhilarating gameplay firsthand.

“Our team members are third generation players, tradesmen, and members of a social network that spans generations,” he said. “Beyond that, we are building a community that provides support and outreach to those who need it most.”

By bringing together local businesses, sponsors, and Portland’s surrounding communities, Ryan said they are creating a network that seeks to support and lift people up.

“We want to continue to challenge ourselves, to push beyond our limits, and to create something truly inspirational,” he said. “We seek to honor our family legacies, connect with our communities, and make a difference for those around us.”

At the end of the day, Ryan hopes to unite people with the common root and love for Gaelic sports. And that's something truly worth celebrating.