Abood Al Jumaili deems Derry folk among 'nicest' anywhere while hurling by historic Walls
Dublin GAA Ambassador Abood Al Jumaili a.k.a. Bonnar Ó Loinsigh described the people of Derry as among the 'nicest he has ever met in his life' while hurling by Derry's historic Walls this afternoon.
The 'Journal' caught up with the young Gael ahead of the Martin Mc Guinness - Chieftain Gaelic Games at which he is a special guest tomorrow.
"I'm here today in beautiful Derry getting ready for tomorrow's Chieftain Gaelic Games that are taking place in Celtic Park and will see several GAA teams taking part in it.
"I'll be doing a couple of talks with the GAA teams here and also presenting the medals to the participants," he said.
Abood, a clubman with Ballinteer St. John's (Cumann Naomh Eoin Baile an tSaoir) in South Dublin, is no stranger to the city.
On a recent visit he got a brilliant reception while hurling up against the iconic Free Derry Corner in the heart of the Bogside, an occasion he recalls fondly.
"I hurled against the Free Derry Wall and I have to say, in general, the Derry people are among the nicest people I've ever met in my life. The reception I've received is unbelievable, very, very hospitable.
"I hurled against Free Derry Corner, and something I didn't expect was people driving past in their vehicles beeping their horns. That, to me, meant a lot. It was a certainly a great endorsement. Very, very hospitable people."
For those who aren't aware Abood wasn't born in a hotbed of hurling, as he explains.
"I moved to Ireland when I was nine years of age as a refugee from Iraq [in 2008]. I went through the full Irish education system and graduated in Law there in the last couple of years and I'm now an inspiring Irish diplomat," he told the 'Journal'.
He is currently doing brilliant work up and down the country promoting Gaelic Games as an equity and inclusion ambassador for the Dublin GAA.
"What that consists of is reaching out to minorities and ethnic groups of different faiths [encouraging them] to join the GAA and see the GAA as a potential organisation for them to be a member of.
"It's to show the GAA as a welcoming community and that everybody is welcome to participate within the GAA no matter what their background is, no matter what their race is, no matter what their religious faith is.
"When I was sitting in Baghdad there in the living room I didn't think of me holding a hurl and being where I am today! But certainly being a member of such a big organisation and an organisation that means a lot to me, that really became such a big part of my identity, I mean, is incredible. I would certainly advise everyone who is watching this to consider participating in the GAA."
The young role model said the reception he has received in Derry and those throughout the country have been extremely encouraging.
"The reception has been very, very good anywhere I have been in Ireland. Thankfully I've been privileged enough to visit all 32 counties in Ireland and everywhere I have been I've been very well received by the local community."