Gaelic Fields by Paul Carroll is a 7-year photography journey throughout Ireland, capturing the action of Gaelic club games in their unique surroundings and environment. The work imprints the rituals, decisive moments and flow of a Gaelic club game onto the backdrop of the local environment.
The four seasons and all elements of Irish weather are interwoven in a snapshot of each city, town’s land, people and team.
The work runs from the unique Irish beauty of the pitches of Aran and Inisturk Islands, South Kerry and the Glens of Antrim to the urban landscapes of Cork, Dublin and Belfast and scores of locations in between.
Football, hurling, camogie and ladies football games are photographed at all adult levels in every county. These sports are Ireland’s national games and they are the most played in the land.
Paul Carroll set out to explore the position of the Gaelic club, its field and surroundings.
“Ah sure, we probably take it for granted,” was the refrain heard more than once with regard to those surroundings.
Seven years and more than 50,000km’s (31,000 miles) later he discovered a vibrant and important grassroots sporting movement in a variety of locations which traverse the 32 counties of the island of Ireland. It is a movement which is volunteer driven with players receiving no pay. It has withstood the social and monetary ills of a recession and the mass emigration of many of its young players.
It accommodates all social strata in both urban and rural areas.
The historian and author Christopher Lasch said, “Play has always, by its very nature, set itself off from workaday life; yet it retains an organic connection with the life of the community, by virtue of its capacity to dramatize reality and to offer a convincing representation of the community’s values.”
Gaelic Fields gives identity to those community values and to Gaelic clubs large and small. To those new to Irish sports, it portrays them and Ireland in a unique and familiar way.