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The TILDA-GAA Partnership

Principal Investigator

Prof Rose Anne Kenny


Health Research Board



The problem that was addressed…

With increased life expectancy there is substantial growth in the number of older people in Ireland.  There is evidence that for many Irish citizens the additional years of life is spent living with significant disability and ill-health.  This has an adverse impact on the person’s quality of life.  Furthermore the whole of society is impacted through increased healthcare requirements and care needs.  An important step in addressing this issue is to provide evidence-based health education on how to prevent illness and disability as we age. 

The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA), has amassed a significant body of knowledge and evidence on how to age well.  An annual lecture on the topic is delivered at Trinity College by Professor Kenny as part of Positive Ageing week.  While this provides the opportunity for older people living in Dublin to hear these findings there are barriers to people outside of Dublin benefiting from important information shared at the talk.  While TILDA was motivated to deliver the talk in venues around the country it was recognised to be a significant challenge.   

What we did…

Given this challenge it was agreed to pursue a partnership with a national organisation that was already embedded in the community.  The GAA was a regarded as the perfect partner for the endeavour.  Through meetings between the TILDA operations manager the Community & Health Department of the GAA ( the idea was discussed and, given its synergy with the aims of the GAA, the partnership was agreed on. 

At the TILDA-GAA planning meetings it was decided that each County GAA Health and Wellbeing Committee would organise a “How to Age Well” community event for their county.  Additionally, they would suggest well-known local GAA figures to become ambassadors for the project in their county and attend the event.  The events would be heavily advertised through the local clubs and local media such as newspaper and radio.  Much welcomed assistance was provided by media consultants Drury | PORTER NOVELLI through Irish Life. 

It was agreed to commence the project with four counties – Longford, Limerick, Mayo and Cork.  The project was officially launched in Croke Park on the 20th February 2019.  In attendance were Irish Life, one of the funders of TILDA and the GAA Community & Health Department, the President of the GAA, John Horan, Professor Kenny and the GAA ambassadors for the four counties.  Following the launch in Croke Park the Trinity Foundation hosted a lunch in the 1592 restaurant for the ambassadors and introduced them to Trinity College GAA Players from football, hurling and camogie.  To conclude the launch day the GAA ambassadors visited the TILDA Health Assessment unit for demonstrations on the assessment process. 

Launch at Croke Park 20th February 2019 from L to R – Professor Rose Anne Kenny (TILDA); Claire Egan (Mayo Ambassador); Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh (Longford Ambassador); Michael Coughlan (Cork Ambassador); Anthony Molloy (Donegal Ambassador); Maria Devanney (Donegal Ambassador); Ned Rae (Limerick Ambassador)

Visit of GAA Ambassadors to Trinity College 20th February 2019

Since the launch we have completed four events and developed a section of our website dedicated to the partnership with details of past events and advertisements for upcoming ones


The launch, and subsequent events, have achieved significant media coverage and featured in the following media:

-              Limerick Leader
-              Irish Examiner
-              Longford Leader
-              Irish Mirror
-              The Irish Times
-              Sky Sports Broadcast

There were also appearances on local radio stations (Limerick Live95; Highland Radio; Cork FM and Shannonside) by Professor Kenny and the TILDA Operations Manager in conjunction with the GAA ambassadors of each event. The #HowToAgeWell hashtag tweets generated 21,318 impressions and 634 engagements from the @tilda_tcd handle.


We distributed comment cards at three of the four events. We received comments such as –
“what an excellent, enjoyable and informational night! Lecture was fantastic.  Going home full of resolve to exercise more and volunteer”;

Great talk – very worthwhile idea.  Good to see GAA working for the general community.  Love to see more of this;

“Talk given by Prof Rose Anne Kenny was very good and interesting.  I think I learned a lot – hope to put it to good use”  

There has also been significant interest among the GAA Health and Wellbeing Committees in other counties and the 2020 series of events are already at an advanced stage of planning. 

Furthered unobserved impacts are likely due to the media coverage however a methodology to capture these has not been employed to date.  Notwithstanding this, public engagement and knowledge transfer activities are two of the activities required by the funders of TILDA and this project enables us to meet the required key performance indicators in these two areas while travelling the country giving these important heath education presentations.

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