Thursday, April 10, 2008

Of Victory Crosses And Tug Of Wars

Two photographs this week, one of the Ardscull Tug of War team of 1928, the other of a grave in the Cornelian Bay Cemetery in Hobart, Tasmania. The grave is that of members of the Tasmanian branch of the Holland family, a family which had it’s origins here in Athy. I was in Cornelian Bay Cemetery recently to visit the grave of John Vincent Holland, formerly of Athy, who was awarded a Victoria Cross for bravery in the 1914-18 War. I have written previously of Holland and the local Heritage Centre has a display devoted to the man who returned from Argentina to join the British Army in 1914. His gallantry at Guillemont during the Battle of the Somme earned for him a civic reception from Athy U.D.C. and a presentation from members of Kildare County Council. Holland’s grave is but one of the many connections which exist between Ireland and the former Van Diemen’s Land, noted in history for the Irish convicts sent there in the early part of the 19th century.

The second photograph depicts the Moat of Ardscull Tug of War team which defeated the Dublin Metropolitan Police team in the Tailteann Games of 1928. It includes four Dempsey brothers from Kilmead, Paddy, Andy, Mick and Johnny. From left to right at the back the team photograph includes Major Tynan of Monasterevin who trained the team, Willie Owens, Jimmy O’Brien of Nurney, Paddy Dempsey, Peter Hanlon of Booleigh, Andy Dempsey and six foot eight inches tall Joe Beirne whom I believe lived near the Seven Stars. The front row from left has Casey Bell of Kilmead, Paddy O’Brien of Nurney, Tommy Ryan of Ballindrum, Mick Dempsey and Johnny Dempsey.

I have been unable to verify the information given to me about the team’s win in the 1928 Tailteann Games but that year was a triumphant one for Kildare county. The Sam Maguire was presented to that year’s All Ireland champions and the recipient was Squires Gannon, Captain of the Lilywhites. I believe that the Ardscull Tug of War team, like the footballers, wore white jerseys.

I would like to get more background information on the Ardscull team and the men whose photograph was taken 80 years ago.

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