Barna had a hurling team in 1964 and handball was very popular in the area, but anyone wanting to play football would have togged out for An Spidéal. Local games were played in Sean Lydon’s field along the shorefront, halfway between the church and Barna school. Kevin Curran and Nicholas O’Fegan were the founders of Barna GAA Club in 1965 and they managed to field minor and junior teams that year. Their junior team had the honour of playing the club’s first competitive match on May 30 1965 against a Bohermore selection known as John F Kennedy’s. Kennedy’s won by a point.
Barna wore black and blue hooped jerseys which were purchased by Frank Gibbons who lived at Knocknacarra Cross. In 1969, the club agreed to change the jerseys to tangerine and white. Early club meetings were held beside a turf fire in Nicholas O’Fegan’s old thatch house at Freeport, and later they transferred to Barna National School.
The early years were a struggle for the club because of the small population of the area, and sporting success was rare. Training was done at what was known as “Kennedy’s” or “The Páircín” opposite where the Paint Box is today, though the terms “training” and “pitch” might be stretching it a bit. There were two stones for goals. Later they trained on the Bishop’s Field at Knocknacarra Cross where at least there were goalposts. They reached their first final in 1972 when they lost to Moycullen in a West Board league decider. In that same year they won Galway Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta at junior level.
In the early 1980s they developed their own pitch at Cloch Scoilte, and they began to sow the seeds of an underage structure. In 1983 they won their first ever county title when the u-14 team beat Headford in Pearse Stadium to win the county B league. In 1989 they won the West Board final at junior level by defeating Na Piarsaigh by a score of 0-10 to 1-2.
Our photograph shows some of that winning squad. They are, front row: Tim Tarpey, Máirtín McDermott, Mícheál Friel, James Gannon, Tommy Gannon, John Flynn, John Keane, Pat McGrath, and Peter Keane. Back row: Johnny O’Connor, David Carr, Marty Davoren, Senan Colleran, Enda Colleran, Marcus Killilea, Fionnán Friel, Seán Óg O’Flaherty, Pádraic Connolly, Mick Walsh, and Gerry Glynn. Missing were Jimmy Gannon, Sean Conlon, Joe McDonagh, Tom Riordan, Billy Walsh, Máirtín Devanney, John Fadden, Anthony O’Connor, and Paul McDermott.
Barna lost the county final against Menlough but were still promoted to intermediate where they remained for much of the next decade until promotion to senior was earned in 1998.
Since then the club has continued to expand and has enjoyed success at many levels on the pitch. Just before Christmas, they published a book entitled Cumann Peile Bhearna, 50 Bliain Ag Fás. It is a wonderful record of the history and progress of the club and is profusely illustrated and sells for the bargain price of €10 in Donnelly’s or in Clarke’s SuperValu in Barna.
The Galway Archaeological and Historical Society will host a lecture by Paul Duffy in the Harbour Hotel on Monday next, January 11. The title is “Galway in 1916, a Pictorial Review” and will show how the Rising was marked by a variety of commemorative postcards. All are welcome.