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.

GLENBEIGH PARISH

Glenbeigh Civil Parish, Barony of Iveragh, Co Kerry. Located at 52.0562N and 9.9403W. It has an area of 61.5 sq.km, 15196 acres , 23.7 sq. miles and 27 town lands. When you include Glencar there is a total of 51 town lands, 31000 acres and 48 sq. miles. In the county of Kerry there are 87 civil parishes, 2756 town lands, 1,188554 acres with a population of 147,554 people.

Glenbeigh village population is as follows:
1991 census 230 people.
1996. " 251. "
2002. " 330. "
2006. " 280. "
2011. " 285. "
2016. " 308. "

Age of people per 2016 census figures of 308 people are > 0 to 17 years = 44, 18 to 64 = 212 and Over 65 = 52 people. There were 265 Irish, 19 English and the remainder other nationalities. The population of the village is 308 and the parish is now over 1000.

Below are the 27 town lands of Glenbeigh with the number of acres in each.

Ballynakilly = 118 acres
" Upper. = 743 "
" Lower = 673
Ceanearagh = 950. "
Coolnaharrigle Upper. = 420 "
" Lower = 137 "
Coolroe. Upper = 506 "
" Lower = 244. "
Coomasaharn = 1081 "
Curra. = 257 "
Curraheen. = 657. "
" Little = 60 "
Droum East = 135 "
West. = 491 "
Faha. = 281 "
Gowlane. = 412 "
Gortdirragh. = 371 "
Kealdubh Upper = 825 "
" Lower = 281 "
Killnabrack Upper = 644 "
" Lower = 464 "
Killkeehagh = 655 "
Letter East = 213 "
" West = 1764 "
Reenanallagne = 288 "
Rossbeigh = 700 "

Translation of local place names.

Glenbeigh Gleann Beithe Glen of the birch trees.
Ballynakilly Baille na Cille Town of the church (Churchtown)
Curra Curra A weir
Coolnaharrigle Cuil na hEargaile. Corner of the house or habitation
Reennanallagne Rinn na nDealgan Point of the thorns
Killnabrack Cill na mBreac Church of the trout
Keeldubh Caol Dubh Black stream
Curraheen An Curraicin. Little Moor
Droum Drom. A ridge or long hill
Faha Faiche A green or lawn or playing field
Inchareach Ince Riach. Grey holm
Windy Gap Bearna na Gaoithe
Drung Hill Croc na Druinge Hill of the sept or clans
Letter Leitir. Wet lands
Goulane. Gablan. A little fork
Canearagh. Ceann Iartach Western Head
Coolroe. Cuil Ruad The red nook
Rossbeigh. Ros Beithe. Headland of the birch trees
Seefin. Sui Fionn Seat of Fionn Mac Cumhaill
Ballagh A road or pass
Inch Ince. A low meadow along a river (Island)
Bearna Gap
Beenmore Beenmor. Great peak
Killkeehagh Cill Chaoitheach St. Caoidhs church
Tir na nOg Land of eternal youth
Tonn Toime Magical waves (at Rossbeigh)
Mountain Stage Stad an tSleibhe Change horses for stagecoach
Coomasaharn Com Sathairn Saturday valley
Killeen Cillin Cemetery
High Road. An Bothar Ard

Other Irish language titles
An Beithe. River Behy
An Mhor Chuaird Ring of Kerry
Radharc na Mara Sea View
Ascal an Bhealaigh Avenue Drive
Sli Athlantaigh Fhiain Wild Atlantic Way
Cois na hAbhainn. Beside the river
Com(coom) A hollow
Ince Riagh Incharea (river meadow)
Others ; Treanmanagh, Scartnamackagh, Callananiska, Coomacilla.

This ballad was written in 1965 by Killorglin born Chrissie Hawes who lived in Glenbeigh for a period of time. She operated a bed and breakfast on the Station Road and was also an enthusiastic member of the local ICA guild. The ballad was revived and put to music by Tom O’ Sullivan, local writer and accomplished musician from Beaufort.

The music he cleverly chose to suit the song was The Green Fields of Rossbeigh, which we think was written by The Hanafin Brothers from Milltown. They were born in the late 1800’s and emigrated to America where they played Irish traditional music for the Irish diaspora and passed down the tradition. A monument in their honour can be seen in the square in Milltown, Co Kerry.

Glenbeigh by the Sea.

I’d like to tell you of a place
The like you’ve never seen.
Surrounded by the Curra Hills
With their forty shades of green.
Its golden sands and mountains grand
Are there for all to see
In this place in County Kerry
That’s called “Glenbeigh by the Sea

The people come and they stop
There taken by surprise
To think there is a place like this
Within the Emerald Isles
They look around and then they say
Of Heavens you have the key
In this place in County Kerry
That’s called “Glenbeigh by the Sea”

I take a walk down Rossbeigh Beach
And look at Dingle Bay
The waves so high they shatter shells
Their colours bright and gay
I see the faces of children
They laugh so merrily
In this place in County Kerry
That’s called “Glenbeigh by the Sea”

I’ve been to many, many lands
But this place I call home
I’ve seen New York and Paris
I’ve climbed the hills of Rome
But now I’m back I mean to stay
For all eternity
In this place in County Kerry
That’s called “Glenbeigh by the Sea”

Here’s another old Glenbeigh Ballad is:

MY BLUE-EYED MOUNTAIN QUEEN

It being the month of May, when fields were fresh and green
I was forced to leave my native home, my age being scarce eighteen.
And when I parted with dear, her loving tears were seen,
In troubled mind I left behind, My Blue-eyed Mountain Queen.

Farewell to Glenbeigh’s lofty hills and to those mountain stream
Where sun or moon right through the gloom pours forth it’s brilliant beam,
Her castle stands beneath hills, bound round with laurels green
But in America’s plan I’ll spend my days with My Blue-eyed Mountain Queen.

My father is a fisherman, he’s on the raging sea
My mother she through seven long years, sleeps beneath the clay,
My sister and my brother four, I regard them with esteem
But little they know I weep full sore for My Blue-eyed Mountain Queen.

God speed the ship across the deep that steers my love to me
The wind to fill her topsail wide to waft her o’er the sea
Her steel made bow has made a vow for to plough the waves between
And on her breast to bear the crest My Blue-eyed Mountain Queen

Puck Fair is over and now everyone in Mid Kerry is eagerly awaiting the Glenbeigh festival and races which run from the 23rd to the 25th of August 2019. The dates and times of the races are controlled by the tides on Rossbeigh beach. All races must be run between the tides and gives only about four hours to get racing done. But when did these races begin? There are no written records available, only anecdotal evidence. Local historians believe that the running of the races on the beach goes back as far as the end of the 1800s. It is almost certain that the races were held in 1903. The great Irish writer, John Millington Synge while holidaying at Mountain Stage mentions he spent the day at the Glenbeigh races in his writing. Cahirsiveen race meetings can be traced back to 1852 when the race course was donated to South Kerry by Daniel O’Connell. Horse racing was common in the mid 1800’s and every farmer owned at least one horse for working and transportation.

The Glenbeigh races must have died out for some period of time because we know that in 1924 that four local men came together to revive the meeting. This was short lived as on the same day they were issued with a court summons for not having a valid permit. Another successful attempt was made in 1957 which incorporated the races with a dance and the selection of the first dance queen in the Emir ballroom. It then went on to become a two day event and introduced jump racing and sulky racing. The festival encountered more problems in 1978 due to high insurance costs and it brought an end to the event. After a lapse of almost twenty years a new committee formed in 1996. They adopted a professional approach and after securing adequate sponsorship the white flag was raised and to this present day the races and festival have gone from strength to strength. In 2008 a new vibrant committee replaced the retiring 1996 team and now with their experience and professionalism the future of the festival looks certain to continue. It is now up to the people of the surrounding area to attend, support and ensure the future of this festival, now in its third century.

 

The first All-Ireland football final was played in 1887 but, it took sixteen years for Kerry to win their first title in 1903. By then, Dublin had won eight finals and within forty years Kerry had surpassed them, and now hold a comfortable lead. For the first twenty years club teams represented their respective counties after winning the county championship in the All-Ireland series. Kerry’s first All-Ireland championship was in 1892 when the Laune Rangers, captained by J.P. O’Sullivan were beaten by Dublin in a controversial final. Football participation in Kerry declined in the 1890s because of economic depression, mass emigration and young men playing “foreign games”. But in 1903 an effort was made in the county to revive gaelic football. Kerry player and secretary of the county board Austin Stack suggested that the county team shouldn’t be just club representatives and said they should select the best players in the county. So the 1903 team comprised of 8 players from the strong Tralee Mitchels club, 6 from Dr Crokes, 2 Castleisland and 1 from Cahirsiveen. For the 1903 season there were 17 players on a team, whereas before 1892 a team had 21 players and in 1913 the number on a team was reduced to 15 players. Kerry began their championship run in June 1903 by beating Waterford, Clare and Cork to win their second Munster final 1-7 to 0-4 in October. In the semi-final Kerry easily beat Mayo 2-7 to 0-4 to advance to the “Home Final”.

July 23, 1905 saw the first of a three game epic All-Ireland final with Kildare in Thurles. Unfortunately this game did not finish after Kerry supporters invaded the pitch before the end of the game and it had to be replayed. These games were an instant success attracting huge numbers to witness fast, skillful, and attractive football. The replay was a titanic battle fought on the hallowed turf of the Athletic Grounds in Cork on August 27, 1905. A record 12,000 fans watched as it ended in a draw. The third and deciding game on the banks of the Lee was played on Oct 15, 1905. The Kerry team was the comfortable winner of the Home Final with a score of 8-2 over Kildare. The game was enjoyed by over 20,000 fans and the GAA was now coming of age. In the early 1900s there was an Away Final. The All-Ireland champions played the All-England champions. The English football representatives were London Hibernians captained by Sam Maguire. The game was played in Jones Road now Croke Park on November 12, 1905. 10,000 watched as John McCarty of Kilkenny refereed the game. Kerry won 11-3 for their first All-Ireland senior football championship. Kerry played four games to get to the final and played four All-Ireland finals to decide the eventual winners. Kerry, captained by Austin Stack, beat Dublin in the All-Ireland championship in July 1906. It was Kerry’s first time beating Dublin in championship football. Kildare won the final in June 1907, taking another two years to run off the championship. In the 1905 final, Kerry wore red jerseys with green cuffs and green collars, the colours of Tralee Mitchels. Kildare, the Lily Whites, wore their traditional all white uniform. They even painted their boots white.

The captain of the 1903 Kerry team was Thady Gorman Tralee and he played along side his twin brother James, they were the first twins to play in an All-Ireland final. J.P. O’Sullivan was the trainer of that Kerry team, which included the great Dick Fitzgerald after whom the stadium in Killarney is named for. Also on that team was Austin Stack whose name was given to the stadium in Tralee and at the Killorglin football field there is a monument dedicated to J.P. O’Sullivan. This is great recognition for three great men who were essential to the team that won Kerry its first All-Ireland title. The Kildare players were recognised by the Central Council of the GAA and were presented with a set of gold medals in recognition of these three encounters with Kerry. Sam Maguire, who played with London in the Away Final in 1903, died in 1927 and is remembered as the eponym of the Sam Maguire Cup, given to the All-Ireland Senior Champions of Gaelic football. Sam was first presented to All-Ireland football winners Kildare in 1928. More about Sam Maguire can be found on his wikipedia page.

No big trophies in 1903 but, your first win is special, so these trailblazers, pioneers and ground breakers take a special place in football history. It is important that we do not allow Kerry’s first All-Ireland victory to be lost in the realms of mythology. Ciarrai Abu!

We salute the team of 1903: T Gorman (Captain), J. Gorman, D. Curran, M. McCarty, J. Buckley, C. Healy. J.T. Fitzgerald, A. Stack, D. Fitzgerald, P. Dillon, W. Lynch, D.McCarty, J. Myers, D. Kissane, D. Breen, F. O’Sullivan and from Renard Point in Cahirsiveen, E. J. O’Neill.


Here is an extract from a poem written in praise of our 1903 team.

They conquered brave Limerick, Tipperary and Clare,
The boys of old Cork and Waterford fair,
And they dealt a hard blow to the men of Kildare,
And to the exiles of London who came.
They are champions of Leinster and Ulster we know,
They are champions of Ireland wherever they go.
“Up Kerry” is true to their name.

Anon

These are the medals given to 1903 team member, E.J.O’Neill.

A Kerry Dublin All-Ireland Final is the stuff dreams are made of, especially over the past forty years. When they meet in the replay of the 2019 All-Ireland final it will be their 15th encounter in an All-Ireland final since the formation of the GAA. To date Kerry lead eight titles to Dublin’s five and they have drawn once in 2019. With regards to the total number of All-Ireland’s won, Kerry’s lead is 37 to Dublin’s 28 titles. The winners of the replay will have one more win, bringing their combined total to 66 wins. This is the 132nd All-Ireland and Dublin and Kerry hold as many titles as the rest of the other counties added together. Kerry has the lost most finals with 22, and Dublin has lost 13. The All-Ireland football final has ended level 14 times since 1894 when Dublin and Cork ended on parity. Kerry have been involved in 8 of those draws, going on to win 5 and loosing 3. First to Galway in 1938 and then in 1972 to Offaly and now this one on Saturday. The 5 replays they have won go back to 1913 when they beat Wexford, 1926 Kildare, 1937 Cavan, 1946 Roscommon and they beat Galway in 2000 in the first All-Ireland to be played on a Saturday evening. An All-Ireland football final has never gone to a second replay unlike the hurling final in 1931 when it took Cork 3 games to conquer Kilkenny. Football has gone through an evolution since its inception. Up to 1892 a team consisted of 21 players then reduced to 17 and from 1913 15 players have made up a team. In the early days a goal outweighed any number of points, back then a goal was equivalent to 5 points and since 1896 a goal is 3 points. County champions at the beginning represented their county in the All-Ireland series. We have had the 60, 80, and now the 70 minute finals. Kerry’s Brendan Lynch has the distinction of winning an All-Ireland medal in all 3. Winning an All-Ireland championship is the ultimate honour and sometimes it is linked with a memorable incident. Something is linked with the match that helps you remember it more clearly, like memory by association. The 1947 Polo Grounds final, the 1975 Kerry bachelors final, the 1982 Seamus Darby final, the 1983 twelve man Dubs team that beat fourteen man Galway final, and now the “drive for five” final. In 1946 the All-Ireland was delayed to allow farmers to save the crops due to a wet summer, it is known as the “Save the Harvest” final. An outbreak of foot and mouth disease delayed the game in 1941, and 1948 was the year of the “Big Wind”, it was a game of two halves due to strong winds. The 1961 Down versus Offaly had an attendance of 91,000 officially but estimates put it at almost 100,000 unofficially. In 1962 Kerry’s Gary MacMahon scored the fastest goal in an All-Ireland after 35 seconds. The newly named Sam Maguire Cup was presented to the champions for the first time in 1928. In 1910 the “Walk Over” final when Kerry refused to travel to Dublin to play Louth because the railway company refused to sell tickets to Kerry fans at a reduced rate. At the 1957 hurling final, actor John Gregson paraded with the Kilkenny team before playing Waterford as part of his role as a GAA player in the film Rooney. At the 1946 hurling final Jack Lynch won his sixth consecutive All-Ireland medal. Wexford beat the Cork hurlers in 1956 and as a gesture of good sportsmanship Wexford shouldered Cork’s outstanding player, Christy Ring, off the field. Both finals were delayed that year due to an outbreak of polio. After a memorable hurling final between Kilkenny and Cork in 1939 in serious weather, the game is called the ” Thunder and Lightning” final. Two days after Germany had invaded Poland and hours after England declared war on Germany to start World War II. The 1995 Clare team won the hurling championship after 81 years. The hurling final in 1937 was played in Killarney. In 1901 London won the All-Ireland championship and back in 1891 Kerry were crowned hurling champions. On a sad note Galway won in 1964 and as captain John Donnellan was receiving the Sam Maguire cup his father died of heart failure in the stadium. Another death linked with an All-Ireland was in 1926 when Cahirsiveen’s Jack Murphy died of pneumonia within a few weeks after putting on his clothes over his wet playing gear. When the Kerry team came out on the field for the 1924 All-Ireland final they knelt and prayed on the spot where Michael Hogan was shot on “Bloody Sunday”, November 21, 1921. The Hogan Stand was built and named in his honour in 1924. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the Kerry team knelt and prayed in front of Hill 16 before they play Dublin next weekend.