Watch a super new documentary about the possibility that Irish emigrants invented Ice Hockey during the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh.
Hurling legend Ger Loughnane sets out on a fascinating journey across Canada to discover the Irish links to the Canadian obsession that is ice hockey. Canada is passionate about hockey just as the Irish are passionate about hurling. The bond between the sports quickly became evident to him: “When I watch hockey, I can see the links to hurling. The passion, the skill and the stick work, the commitment of the players, it’s clear to me that the sports are connected.” Ger isn’t alone in his thinking. Hockey legend Brendan Shanahan agrees “I can see some sense to the theory that hockey has roots in hurling. The attributes between the athletes are very similar.”
What will surprise most is that the hurling link is due to Irish Protestants/Ulster Scots who brought hurling across with them. Ger uncovers this fascinating link at the birthplace of hockey in Windsor, Nova Scotia. His journey across eastern Canada reveals that the sport the Irish helped develop also provided the Irish with the opportunity to grow in Canadian society. After the Famine, the Irish were mainly in the slums. In Montreal, Ger visits the site of a mass grave where 6000 Irish were buried. Toronto became the “Belfast of Canada” such was the division between Catholic and Protestant Irish in the city. Yet, success in hockey provided a gateway for the Irish to progress in Canadian society. Irish teams and Irish players became adored across Canada. Ger discovers the strong Irish heritage of leading Canadian teams such as the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs who originated as the Toronto St.Patrick’s. As the NHL celebrates its 100th anniversary he examines the Irish legacy and how it is remembered today.
The documentary is a fascinating insight into how the Irish integrated into Canadian society through Canada’s national game, a game in which the Irish were essential in creating and developing. As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday this documentary presents an opportunity to highlight the role of Irish immigrants in making Canada the country it is today. It’s about the Irish tenacity to succeed, both on the rink and in Canadian society. Without the Irish influence, Canada would not have the game it loves and enjoys so much today.
“Poc na nGael” is showing at the Galway Film Fleadh on Sunday July 16th at 2.15pm in the Cinemobile. The Documentary is directed by Éamonn Ó Cualáin and produced by Éamonn Ó Cualáin and Sam Kingston of Fócas Films. Presenter Ger Loughnane and Director Éamonn Ó Cualáin are available for interview, please contact Éamonn at 087 9335382 . The documentary was funded by Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and TG4. Poc na nGael will air on TG4 in autumn. Find us on twitter at @PuckIrishDoc and on Facebook at PuckIrishDoc