Our great match with the Gaelic Athletic Association

We are excited to announce that the RNLI is partnering with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to promote our Respect the Water campaign to its communities across Ireland.
Montage of Gaelic Athletic Association players

Photo: Gaelic Athletic Association

Who is the Gaelic Athletic Association?

Since it was founded in 1884, the GAA has become Ireland’s largest sporting organisation and is celebrated as one of the world’s great amateur sporting associations. 

The GAA reaches a huge audience with over 2,200 sporting clubs in Ireland and around 1.5 million people attending the GAA Championships between May and September each year. 

Through our Respect the Water campaign we’re trying to reach 16-39-year-old males and many of the GAA’s supporters and members naturally fit this audience. This partnership will help us share our water safety messages in their communities which will ultimately help to save lives.

How we’ll work together 

This is an important partnership as the vision and values of the GAA reflect ours. Like us, the GAA reaches into every corner of Ireland and many of the communities, and they also have a strong volunteer ethos and community focus – which is at the heart of both organisations. 

Recently we’ve identified 17 cases, through research into local and national press archives, where GAA players or supporters have lost their lives through drowning. So it became clear that it would be important to develop a two-way partnership with the GAA.

Our drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water will be supported through the GAA’s healthy clubs initiative. Many GAA clubs are based in coastal communities, and 333 of them are located within a 10km radius of the 46 lifeboat stations that we have in Ireland. Their location makes them perfect for sharing information and raising awareness of the causes of drowning and how to prevent it.

Through our partnership we’ll have a presence at two all-Ireland Semi-Final matches, offering us the chance to talk to players and supporters about our water safety messages. We’ll also be able to communicate to GAA fans and members through the GAA’s internal networks and social media channels.

The GAA have also introduced player ambassadors to the RNLI who will take part in some exercises and training to highlight the key messages of the Respect the Water campaign – they will be key to developing more support across the GAA’s county and club network.

Future relations with the GAA

2017 year is the start of what we hope to be a long and successful partnership with the GAA. This year the partnership will focus around building awareness across Ireland and Northern Ireland about the Respect the Water campaign. If this year proves to be a success, then the future looks bright for developing this partnership to spread more of our safety and fundraising campaigns. 

Our Corporate Manager for this partnership, Rob Cunningham, speaks about this exciting opportunity with the GAA: 

This is the first time that we’ve had a corporate partnership with an organisation who will be working alongside us to educate more people about our Respect the Water campaign. We hope that as a result of this partnership, members of the GAA community will become more aware of our safety messages and hopefully our joint efforts will help to save more lives in the future.

To find out more about the partnership, the player ambassadors and their experience with the RNLI, have a look at our partnership video below (if the video doesn’t play, please click here).