When we looked back into the pages of The Kerryman for this week’s extract from 100 years ago, we found that there was little reference to Glenbeigh for this particular week. Perhaps the sun was shining in the last week in August back then! There were a couple of follow-ups to articles previously reported, such as the letter explaining why a number of Justices of the Peace had recently resigned, to which Thomas Evans of the Towers Hotel was a signatory, and a report of a rejected compensation claim after the RIC barracks in Glencar was destroyed by fire.
The rest of the selection below are from wider afield across Kerry, and show the impact of the escalating military activity during the War of Independence on the local population. The fire in Tralee mentioned in the extract was the burning by the ‘Black and Tans’ of the printing press used to publish The Kerryman, amongst other journals. This was the precursor to what became known as the Siege of Tralee in November 1920, when the town was subject to severe reprisals after the assassination of several police constables in the area.
In our ongoing series of extracts from the pages of The Kerryman from 100 years ago, we have a really mixed bag of stories this week, ranging from the mundane to the sad and serious matters of the ongoing War of Independence, including the tragic death of a Kells man, apparently from fright, after his house was invaded by a group of masked men. This week’s Glenbeigh notes shows the owner of the Towers Hotel, Thomas Evans, resigning as a magistrate. The paper reports that several other magistrates also resigned that week, and we can only guess that this was probably related to the military situation. It is also reported that the Glencar house of John Taylor, reported last week to have been damaged in recent disturbances, has been restored with the help of local volunteers. Alongside these stories, we can see that “normal” life still carried on, with the circus due to arrive shortly in Tralee. It’s also interesting to see that John Ross Jeweller in Tralee was operating then as it still does today, as can be seen in its advertisement for the latest technology in its “Traly” watch.
Notes. The Irish Newspaper Archive (https://www.irishnewsarchive.com/) contains a vast database of newspapers and journals. The Local History and Archives Department in Tralee Library, although closed at the moment due to the current health situation, also holds an extensive range of historic Kerry newspapers and journals, including The Kerryman, on microfilm
This week we have again been looking back into the archives of The Kerryman from a century ago, when the country was embroiled in the War of Independence against the British*. As it still does to this day, the paper carried small articles from many towns and villages in the county, including Glenbeigh. Below are the “Glenbeigh Notes” from the edition printed on July 31 1920, and a further small cutting from the same edition. Both articles appear to refer to the same or linked events.
You will see that military activities were to the fore this week. The first cutting has an account of the evacuation of the RIC barracks in Glencar after constables had been attacked. The longer article below describes attacks by the RIC and/or British military on the houses of known or suspected republican supporters. Houses were set alight and presumably the inhabitants rendered homeless. It is unclear from these two cuttings which came first, but it is highly likely that the events described are linked.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to review historic editions of The Kerryman from a century ago and will publish any items which we think may be of interest.
* The Irish Newspaper Archive (https://www.irishnewsarchive.com/) contains a vast database of newspapers and journals. The Local History and Archives Department in Tralee Library, although closed at the moment due to the current health situation, also holds an extensive range of historic Kerry newspapers and journals, including The Kerryman, on microfilm.
Back in 1896 two Irishmen were creating sporting history in the world of Lawn Tennis. One, a Dublin man by the name of John Mary Pius Boland, and another, a Kerryman Harold Segerson Mahony. Both came from very wealthy backgrounds and were about the same age. and they both had indirect association with Glenbeigh.
If anyone has anything to add to these stories, please do not hesitate to leave us a message!
We will first focus on Harold Segerson Mahony’s background, sporting achievements and his untimely death in Glenbeigh. He was born on 13 February 1867, son of Richard John Mahony, a barrister, prominent land owner and an aristocrat. They lived the majority of their time in elegant tranquility at Dromore Castle, overlooking the Kenmare River near Templenoe. Harold’s father had another home and business interests in Edinburgh Scotland, where Harold was born in 1867. Harold wanted to be a tennis player from a very young age and trained on his own private tennis court at Dromore Castle. He made his Wimbledon debut unsuccessfully in 1890 but improved his ratings over the next number of years.
The 1896 Wimbledon tournament was to be the Kerryman’s greatest achievement by winning the Wimbledon singles, the third – and most recent – Irishman to win this coveted prize. While he was raised in Kerry, he was born in Scotland and was the last Scottish- born player to win the Wimbledon singles until Andy Murray did so in 2013. In the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, Harold enjoyed further success when winning a silver medal in the singles event, a bronze in the doubles, and a silver in the mixed doubles, while representing Great Britan and Ireland. He also won many other major tournaments in different countries and was very popular player with his fans wherever he played.
Harold inherited the family homestead at Dromore Castle when he retired from the tennis circuit in 1904. But tragedy struck in the following year while he was on a visit to Glenbeigh. While negotiating a steep hill near Caragh Lake, Harold was killed in a cycling accident. It’s not known exactly where but it may be near St Finnan’s Well coming down from Treanmanagh. He was killed on 25 June 1905 at the young age of thirty eight.
The next world champion lawn tennis player with connections to Glenbeigh was John Pius Boland. Before looking at his sporting achievements, there were many other facets to his life. Born in Dublin in 1870, he attained a BA in 1892 and a law degree in 1896. He was called to the Bar in 1897.
He became an Irish Nationalist Politician and a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party, MP for South Kerry from 1900 to 1918. He was succeeded by Cahirsiveen born Fionán Lynch, whose brother had been priest in Glenbeigh around 1905. As a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party, John Pius was a staunch advocate of Home Rule.
While his tennis career was short lived, it was most impressive as he won a gold medal in the inaugural modern Olympic Games in Athens 1896. The story goes that it was only while he was visiting a friend in Athens during the games that he decided to enter the tournament. In those days there was no process of qualification only turn up on the day, and he was therefore able to enter the men’s singles tournament. To his surprise he won the tournament and became the first Olympic champion in Lawn Tennis for Great Britain and Ireland. For good measure, he also won a gold medal in the doubles event partnering a German player! As he was being presented with his gold medals, he insisted that the Irish flag be raised so the organisers had to quickly prepare an Irish flag which he held with pride.
As an MP for South Kerry he was very concerned with the lack of literacy among the Irish population and had a keen interest in the promotion of Irish language and Irish culture. He visited Glenbeigh in the early 1900s and with the enthusiastic help from local priest Fr. Scollard they organised an Irish college and were instrumental in the building of the old hall now derelict at the rear of the church. This hall was used for many years afterwards for educational and recreational purposes relating to Irish culture. John Pius Boland, Fr. Scollard and the previously mentioned Fr. Lynch had great confidence in establishing Glenbeigh as an educational centre.
This great Irishman died on St. Patrick’s Day 1958, and the article below is an extract from a letter that John Pius wrote in 1944 about his foundation of an Irish Summer School in Glenbeigh.
Footnote 1. Boland’s daughter Honor Crowley was the first Kerry-born female TD to be elected to Dáil Éireann, in a by-election held on the death of the sitting TD, her husband Fred Crowley. She served as Fianna Fáil TD for South Kerry from 1945 to 1966. Only five Kerry women have been elected to Dáil Èireann since the formation of the state. The other four are Kathleen O’Connnor (C na P 1956-57), Kit Ahern an aunt of Eoin “Bomber” Liston (FF 1977-81), Breda Moynihan Cronin (Labour) and present incumbent Norma Foley (FF) elected in 2020 and recently appointed Minister of Education.
Footnote 2. Ireland has had a total of four winners at Wimbledon. The only Irish lady was Tipperary born Lena Rice in 1890 followed by three men: the first was Kildare born Willough Hamilton also in 1890, followed by Wicklow native Joshua Pim in 1893, and finally three years later our own Kerryman Harold Segerson Mahony.
Between them, Mahony and Boland won two gold, two silver, one bronze in the Olympic Games of 1896 and 1900, in addition to Mahony’s 1896 Wimbledon title.