David Brady: Roots, boots and the Family of Origin

Where do you come from? Depending on the time of the year during the GAA season that answer may not be black and white...

David Brady: Roots, boots and the Family of Origin

Source: Inpho/Tom Beary

David Brady is a former Mayo inter-county footballer, who lined out for the county during the 1990s. He played a part in Mayo's 1996 All-Ireland defeat to Meath.
 
Question: Where do you come from?
 
Easy answer, right? Wrong. Depending on the time of the year during the GAA season that answer may not be black and white and you may have more than one answer.
 
Are you ‘from’ where you were born? Where you were bred? Or reared? Dragged up or brought up! Maybe it’s where you moved to after flying the nest?
 
Maybe you’re from your father’s town? Maybe your mother’s county? Or their parents before them? It can all be a little complicated!
 
I’m from Mayo. Full stop. So are my parents, Willie and Mary. Actually that’s not quite right. As I've been told on many occasions by many a good Yeats County man, my father is actually from Sligo. Castleconnor, Co. Sligo to be precise. A little less than a half mile from where I lived all my life in the Quay, Ballina in County Mayo. And we still have the family farm in Sligo.
 
(Admission: I did have transfer papers in hand with every intention of playing my football with Peter Forde in Sligo in early 2002. I’d fallen out with my Mayo manager at the time and all I wanted to do was play football.)
 
Maybe it was never going to happen but I did seriously consider it until a wise confidant told me I’d have more years in Mayo football ahead than my manager would have in management. That was the only convincing I needed.
 
Now, there's no hesitation in my answering where I come from but I do think about what my 2 year old daughter will say in the years to come when we’ve hit high summer and there are hats, scarves and headbands to be bought.
 
Fast forward 20 years time; Mayo V Dublin in the 2037 All-Ireland Final, her father is well into his 60s still going around like a lunatic pre All-Ireland Final day saying "Ah stop", "As the man says" and "this has to be Mayo’s year".
 
 
My wife is from Dublin, born in the same hospital as her daughter, 100% blue just like her grandad, Larry. But then there's a mix of another blue as granny Trish's people are from Laois.
 
My poor daughter might just say she doesn't care where anyone's from just let Daddy’s Mayo win! Let him grow old gracefully and peacefully with his pipe and slippers.
 
I moved house in last few weeks having fully put down roots in Castleknock, Dublin (the thought just crossed my mind: do you think in 20 years time my daughter might end up thinking her da is from Dublin?!).
 
Anyway our new house has two lovely neighbours who, just like ourselves, are full of pride and excitement about their corner of this mad world. Walter, to my right, is from Dublin and Micheál, on my left, from Kildare.
 
We only met last month but you guessed it – both have parents from Mayo. Never lived anywhere else but Dublin and Leixlip but tangled up in the green and red. One mother is from Kilfian and it surrounds the other father is from Ballycastle.
 
Do you think these men and women know where they’re from? They know for sure who they’ll support this summer but knowing where you and yours are from fosters an understanding of what I call your Family of Origin.
 
Does Micheál support Mayo over Kildare? I'd take a guess and say yes. It’s all down to roots. The answer to that will crystallise over the summer!
 
As the Americans say; less than a block from our house is the abode of maybe the most famous Dublin football family of them all: The Brogans. There’s more All-Ireland medals in that household than roundabouts in the West of Ireland!
 
 
And there’s no doubting who the Brogans are but back to my original question: Where are they from? And as it turns out, it’s a good mix as both their mother Marie and father Bernard Sr have origins in the Kingdom of Kerry and in Claremorris in Co. Mayo. They often return and visit both and have pride in where their forefathers originated, their own Family of Origin.
 
Down the ‘block’ you have Ciaran Kilkenny, Kerry blood runs through his veins.
 
Everywhere you look people wear their hearts on their sleeves on Championship day but when we look a little closer we see a spectrum of heritage and culture that is the GAA. It’s what we are and it’s who were are.
 
It's the start of the Championship proper this weekend (sorry New York!) and over the coming weeks no matter if you’re green & red, blue or black, green & gold or even maroon we are really the same.
 
We love our national games and we love our county. And some of us, maybe most of us, have a love and affinity with more than one county. It’s a grá. It’s a Family of Origin.
 
David is part of Off The Ball’s team of GAA pundits. Live GAA Championship coverage this and every weekend on Off the Ball – Saturdays & Sundays from 1pm.
 
This article was brought to you in association with Bord Gáis Energy, proud sponsor of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship – keep up to date and follow #HurlingToTheCore