When it comes to magic moments in the annual GAA Championships one man, Ray McManus, has literally seen it all. Since 1980 Ray and his team at Sportsfile have been bringing us breathtaking shots of GAA action via Irish and international media. He has also been compiling his popular book ‘A Season of Sundays’ which encapsulates the true spirit of the competition, since 1997. Seán Creedon meets the man with the most famous camera in GAA circles.
For many GAA players, managers and supporters the All-Ireland hurling and football finals in September are the highlight of the sporting year. But for Ray McManus and his team of photographers at Sportsfile, their highlight will come in November when Ray publishes the nineteenth edition of his popular ‘coffee table’ style book ‘A Season of Sundays.’
Launching last year’s issue, GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy said that it is ‘‘the book captures the emotion of the GAA’’ but little did Ray know when he started out all those years ago what a unique and intimate insight into the world of the GAA he would one day deliver to the Irish public.
‘‘I grew up in Harold’s Cross in South Dublin and still live in the area with my wife Anne and daughter, Sinéad,” he says. “I never took photography classes, indeed I didn’t pay much attention to classes in general. After failing the Inter Cert, I started my working life as a sales assistant in an electrical shop. Ted Maguire, the man I worked for, taught me a lot about hard work. When Ted sold a fridge or a cooker, sometimes he would deliver it himself, pushing it in a pram across Dublin city. In later years he progressed to the company van.’’
The young man, who was famous for his mop of red hair in his younger days, then moved from Ted Maguire’s Home Store to Star Furniture where he perfected his selling skills. Unfortunately this business, which was owned by a British corporation, decided to leave Ireland and closed after a few years.
But fate intervened. Being a Harold’s Cross local, Ray often walked across the road from his house to the Greyhound Stadium where one night his luck was in and he won 53 pounds. Having had an interest in photography for some time, Ray decided to spend his “hard earned money” on a camera and the rest, as they say, is history.