Brooklyn Shamrocks were founded in 1955 and as the only GAA club at the time in the NYC borough, the founders wanted to express their strong Irish identity and connection. To reflect this, Shamrocks was chosen as the name. Initially the club featured a strong Kerry influence but recently there has been an increasing Ulster influence in the club.
A New York Times edition of January 1, 1902, included an account of a Gaelic football game at Madison Square Gardens between the Kickhams of New York and the Emmets of Brooklyn. This is thought to be the earliest documented recording of Gaelic games being played in Brooklyn.
The modern day Shamrocks club however was founded in 1955 in the Bayridge / Sunset Park area which contained a very large Irish immigrant population at the time. The earliest chairmen of the club mostly hailed from County Kerry but the seat of power has shifted through the years around various counties in Ireland which epitomizes the strong cultural connection that the Brooklyn Shamrocks has with many areas on the island of Ireland. There are firm links with several clubs in Down and Fermanagh along with Shane O’Neills GAC in Armagh, Steelstown GFC in Derry, St. Sylvester's in Dublin and Confey GFC in Kildare.
The current chairman, in post since 2015, has been Tommy McConvey who hails from Ardglass in County Down. To this day they still hold their committee meetings in the Irish Haven bar in Sunset Park. The bar was used to film the movie The Departed and the pool table scene in the movie is also the scene where the Shamrock members hash out their differences at the AGM.
Brooklyn Shamrocks Colours, Crest and Tradition
The Club colours were chosen as green and white to reflect Ireland and they provide a beautiful backdrop for the Shamrock. The club badge features the Brooklyn Bridge which is an iconic landmark not only in Brooklyn but in the wider NYC area. The club makes a point of carrying any Trophies won across the bridge from Manhattan into Brooklyn before heading on to the Irish Haven. The Shamrock in the crest represents all the Irish who have immigrated to the area over the years and who may or may not still be with us.
The Shamrocks originally trained during its early years in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Up to the early 2000s the club trained in Shore Road Park under the Verrazano Bridge. All our games are played in Gaelic Park in the Bronx which is the home of the GAA here in NY. We train on Randall's Island which is a great location for most of our players who all work in Manhattan.
The Club’s current primary focus is on the senior men’s team with around 25 lads playing. The Shamrocks are currently playing in the Intermediate Football Championship. Their last success was the Junior Football A Championship in 2015. Prior to that we won the Junior Football B Championship in 2012. The Shamrocks have a strong connection with the Liberty Gaels ladies team here in NY.
In 2015 the club featured on Brooklyn TV’s In The Zone sports show which covers the large range of sporting teams and individual athletes that are active in the borough. The cameras recorded a training session with the club and also interviewed players and coaching staff. This was then cut into a mini documentary feature. The club’s players also were present for a live interview to talk about the prominence of Gaelic football in New York and the strong ties the game has in the 5 boroughs.
Building the Club Community
The club holds an annual dinner dance every year in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn which reaches far beyond the Irish community and into the local community of Brooklyn people from many different backgrounds. Increasingly the club looks to those outside of the Irish American community to get involved and share their passion for sport. The dinner dance is an important part in showcasing the club to those who may not be aware of Gaelic Sports in NYC.
For what is essentially a fringe sport in the United States the Shamrocks club has held a unique place in the storied history of Brooklyn Sports. Survival in the New York sporting landscape is a feat in itself and this club has endured good times and bad since 1955 even outlasting professional teams like the Brooklyn Dodgers in that time span.
Prominent Brooklyn Gaels
From Tony Spollen to Jimmy Lally and now to current President Tommy McConvey the club has had passionate and hardworking people to drive them forward. Along the way they have even been able to call on the talents of greats such as Padraig Joyce and Jimmy McGuinness who are past players.
The wish as a club is to continue to expand the Brooklyn Shamrocks family in NY but also at home and further afield.
“We have an expanding legion of fans, supporters and former players around the world and we wish to remain connected and important in their lives. The dramatic 2015 championship final win over Longford was on Periscope TV in a bar in County Down. The tense extra time was followed via Whatsapp in County Sligo and Fermanagh and the pictures of the full time celebrations were beamed via twitter to South Korea and the west coast of the United States. You may leave Brooklyn but the Shamrocks never leave you.”