A HISTORY OF LAOIS SCÓR
by Marcella Daly
Rule 4 of the official guide states that "The association shall actively support the Irish language, traditional Irish dancing, music, song and other aspects of Irish culture. It shall foster an awareness and love of the national ideals in the people of Ireland, and assist in promoting a community spirit through its clubs".
Scór was officially recognised as a unit of the GAA in 1969 with the Laois County Board appointing a committee to look after the Scór in 1975 under the chairmanship of Ger Conroy, Mountmellick. Tom Hassett was appointed secretary of this committee along with Murt O'Donnell, Anne Hassett, Noel Davis, Michael Lawlor, Joe Gallagher and Seamus Ryan.
Prior to this informal competitions were held in St. Fintan's Hospital, Portlaoise. In a short space of time this group of people saw the streamlining of the Scór competitions in Laois with Scór na nÓg (under 17) starting in November and Scór Sinsear running over January and February. The winners of County competitions went on to compete in the Provincial Finals culminating in the All-lreland Finals in early May.
Over the years Scór in Laois went from strength to strength with Mountmellick taking All-Ireland honours in 1974 in the Question Time Category. Errill are the only other club to win All-Ireland titles when their set dancers were victorious in 1986.
During the 80's and early 90's County Finals were held in various centres around the county from the Borris-in-Ossory leisure centre (since demolished) to St. Mary's College in Mountmellick with Scór participants competing in front of packed local halls and community centres in Camross and Ballyfin to name but a few. Down through what was a golden period for this aspect of the GAA, clubs from all over the county produced many local stars who went on to compete in Leinster and All-Ireland Finals.
These wonderful talent competitions have created many fond memories over the years and many a mantlepiece was adorned with trophies won for the set dancing, Figure dancing, instrumental Music, solo singing, ballad groups, Question time, recitation and novelty acts. There are many individuals who gave countless hours to promoting Scór over the years in Laois who have passed away; namely Seamus Ryan (Portarlington) Murt O'Donnell (Borris-in-Ossory) and Peter Fitzpatrick (Kilcotton). 2009 saw the sad death of Maire ni Dhuinna,a constant presence and driving force behind the competitions for as long as one can remember. The Hassett Family of Errill, Paddy and Lena Connolly along with Michael Martin who has served on the Leinster Council of Scór have all been synonymous with Scór over the years. Sadly over the last decade or more the numbers competing in Scór have dwindled considerably but with a renewed interest in our national culture it is hoped to invigorate this aspect of our heritage again and become a force to be reckoned with on the provincial and national stage.