Guth na n-Óg was originally set up as a youth club in the late 1940s. Some of those involved in its setting up were Páid McNamara, Fr Fitzgibbon SJ, Tom Walsh (who worked in O’Gorman’s ), Seán Kirby, Paddy Gleeson from William Street, and Ivor Kenny. Initially they used to meet in the Arus in Dominick Street but they fell foul of the authorities there because they did not speak Irish all the time, so they moved to the British Legion building on Father Griffin Road (Where Yeats College was until recently ). Each member got a membership card and a badge. They used to play indoor games and have music sessions, and eventually they formed a céilí band and held a céilí every Saturday evening. They also formed a marching pipe band which thrived for a number of years.
There was no shortage of enthusiasm, especially when they started to put the emphasis on Gaelic football and hurling and started up a ‘street league’. This initially involved teams from Prospect Hill, Shantalla, Woodquay, The Claddagh (known as St Nicholas’ ), and Devon Park among others. The league got better as more teams joined until it seemed as if most of the city was involved. The big problem they had was a lack of pitches... they used to play on a pitch owned by the Brothers in Newcastle which was just beside part of the Clifden Railway Line (it is part of NUIG today ), on the Industrial School pitch, Salthill Park, Fahy’s Field, etc. Some of the games were seven-a-side and later went to 15-a-side.
The teams in our photograph were from Devon Park and Newcastle. They were probably the first ever teams to formally represent Salthill and Newcastle and they played each other in an under-14 final in Salthill Park in October 1953. For the record, Devon Park won.
Those in the photograph are, back row, left to right: Paddy Daly, referee; Tony Naughton, who lived where Mitchell’s shop was later at Devon Park; Tom ‘Tonsie’ Hartigan; Liam Geraghty; Tom Grealy; Victor Lynch; Frank O’Donnell; Arthur Kavanagh; Kevin Murphy; Pádraic White; and Páid McNamara. In front are Tommy Hynes; Michael Burke; Tony Barrett (Fr Griffin Road ); Jimmy Quigley; Michael Newell; Donie White; Des Murphy; and Eamonn Newell.
Paddy Daly was from Bohermore and hurled with Liam Mellows and Galway. He once held Christy Ring scoreless in a Railway Cup match. Jimmy Quigley was a ‘natural hurler’ from Devon Park who played at minor and senior level for Galway. Many of the others represented their county and played in various codes at senior level.
The Street League was eventually run by the Fr Griffin’s Club for a couple of years and then a committee took over the organisation. It was very strong through the fifties and sixties, a great nursery for GAA players in both hurling and football.
Our thanks to Liam Geraghty for this photograph.
An Taisce is organising a bus tour to ‘Ireland’s Moonscape’, more commonly known as The Burren, on Sunday August 16 leaving the railway station at 10am. It will be led by Peadar O’Dowd and there are still places available. Contact Helen Spellman at 521872.
The Galway Civic Trust is organising a heritage festival programme from August 22 to 30. It includes lectures, medieval walks, puppet shows, music, and poetry.... a host of events to help us appreciate the environment we live in. One which should be of great interest is a lecture by fisheries inspector Pat Gorman on Traditional Poaching in Galway City and County in Galway Rowing Club, August 28 at 10am. You can pick up a programme in the tourist office or in many locations around town.