Part 3 of our series where we give you a crash course on the more unique GAA crests that can be found across Europe. If you haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 yet you can by clicking here & here respectively. In this edition we have some bears, eagles, rams, horses & every other animal you can possibly think of. Special thanks to Chard Faul (Azur Gaels), David Smyth/Nigel Kinnarney (Setanta Berlin) & Guillaume Kerrien (Toulouse) for helping out.
Danish club Aarhus are one of our most recently established clubs having been set up in 2015. It is the second largest city in Denmark, located on the east coast and is the principal industrial port which is very much linked to the club crest’s design. A stylish “A” for Aarhus is adorned with both a sword & an anchor. Both these symbols are taken from the city’s official coat of arms. One interesting tidbit is that on the official coat of arms, the sword is held by a man thought to be Apostle Paul, whilst the anchor is said to be St. Clement. Both would have made fine hurlers in their heyday we’re sure!
Located in the south of France, right on the Mediterranean, the Azur Gaels club have one of the most enviable locations in all of the GAA. The Côte d’Azur (literally “Azure Coast”) is not actually an official territory – it’s the name given to the coastal part of the Alpes Maritimes region from Cannes to Menton, more or less. They have players from all along that stretch of coast which is great because that was exactly the aim when thinking up a club name and crest! The eagle is taken from the Alpes Maritimes/Nice city crest. It’s the animal of the region and definitely one that their players can get behind. The major difference however, is that it’s not red like that of Nice; they thought it would be more coherent to go with an azure blue for the Azur Gaels. Their colours are closer to those of Valbonne, Antibes and Cannes where most of their players are based. It’s a blue that evokes a clear sky and a warm mediterranean sea, which characterise the Côte d’Azur! Another difference is that their eagle is more modern and dynamic than the one perched proudly upon the Nice crest. Thier eagle isn’t resting on its laurels, it’s swooping upon a football, which is more their style! The eagle was mounted on a circular badge that now contains the club name, the year of foundation (2015) and intricate wave details as a further nod to the beloved Côte d’Azur. The navy blue was added to complement the azure blue and distinguish the different elements of the badge.
The first of two crests to feature rams on our list this time comes from Kerne, a Gaelic Football club from Quimper in Brittany, France. The reason for having a ram is not interesting in its own right as it is simply featured on the town of Quimper’s coat of arms, however the story of how Quimper ended up with a ram is actually quite interesting. Quimper’s original coat of arms featured a deer, but the decision was made to update it in 1696, which required old archives to be examined. The story goes that because the archives were in such bad condition, it was extremely hard to make out the animal on the coat of arms properly and as a result, the deer was mistaken for a ram! We are sure Kerne are not complaining because their ram does not look like someone you’d want to mark in a match!
Berlin is rapidly emerging as a hotbed for GAA activity, being one of the few GGE cities with two clubs. The club crest of Setanta Berlin GAA, one of the largest clubs in Europe, depicts a black bear surrounded by a hurley, a football and a harp, set against a red/black/white background. The design is an amalgamation of the city crests and traditional GAA elements. The red and white is a nod to Berlin’s geographical location within, and neighbourly relations with, the state of Brandenburg, which shares the same colours and which completely envelopes the city, much like the former GDR did back in the days of the infamous Berlin wall. The bear, “rampant with tongue and claws in red“, has been the symbol of Berlin for almost 800 years. Over time, many theories as to the origin of the bear as a symbol have been posited. The definitive word comes surely from the club PRO: “Someone important clearly just pulled it from their arse as there’s not been a bear anywhere near Berlin since 1741, other than those in the Zoo or the lumbering hairy specimens sometimes spotted on early Sunday mornings grunting and roaring across the plains in pursuit of the sacred leather.”
The Toulouse club was founded in 2009 and the decision was made to have red as the main colour to match the colours of the city itself, with the touch of green hinting of home. The ram and Occtian cross you see are also tributes to the city itself with both featuring on the city’s official coat of arms. The ram on the Toulouse crest is rather more intimidating than the one found on the city’s coat of arms however which brings us onto our final point. You may be wondering what language the word “Tolosa” comes from. Well it’s not French for Toulouse (Toulouse is French for Toulouse) but actually it’s Occitan for Toulouse. The city’s motto is “Per Tolosa totjorn mai” which translates to “For Toulouse always more”. The club felt this represented the fighting Irish spirit & volunteerism that are at the roots of the GAA.