Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Peadar Dooley footballer and Mary Carbery

Playing football was the abiding passion of young fellows living in Athy in the pre television days of the 1950s. Street leagues fanned our enthusiasm for the sport which was further encouraged by the weekly break from school on Wednesday afternoons to participate in football practice in Geraldine Park. Gaelic football was the only game encouraged or indeed allowed during our Christian Brothers school days, but truth to tell it was the only game most of us aspired to play. Soccer and rugby were not part of our youthful horizons. The national newspapers carried reports of major G.A.A. games, while the local papers, the Nationalist and Leinster Times and the Leinster Leader occasionally listed the members of school teams. It was in those local newspapers that many of our names were first mentioned and how important we felt to see our young names in print. The 1950s was a difficult time jobwise for young men leaving the local schools. Many of those I went to school with in the national school had to emigrate to find employment. Emigration was something our country folk experienced for centuries but the establishment of the Irish Free Sate coming fast on the heels of the Civil War saw many young men leave Ireland. With their departure G.A.A. clubs and teams suffered and similar losses continued apace throughout the war years and into the 1950s and the 1960s. I was reminded of the past loss of young Irish men to their country and to their clubs when news arrived of the death of Peadar Dooley, formerly of St. Michael’s Terrace. Peadar was one of the many good footballers to grace Gaelic football during the 1950s. He was a member of the Castlemitchell intermediate team which won the Intermediate championship final of 1953. His team mates included Ned Conway and five members of the legendary Donnelly brothers. It was a team which brought the first championship silverware to the Castlemitchell club. Peadar Dooley and Ned Conway, no doubt on the strength of the Castlemitchell club’s success in the Intermediate championship and the club’s subsequent elevation to the senior ranks, became members of the County Kildare senior panel. Both Peadar and Ned played their first game for the county on 28th February 1954 in a match against Waterford played in Kildare Town. Peadar’s senior football county career continued until April 1955. He played his last game for County Kildare when togging out against Cork in a match played in the nation’s second capital. He emigrated to England soon afterwards following his teammate, Ned Conway, who had earlier taken the emigrant boat. Peadar would later return to Ireland to play in a football match as a member of a London team. It would be his last time to play football in his native country. Peadar Dooley was a member of a select group of Gaelic footballers from Athy who were privileged to play for their county. Peadar who played in the fullback line, sometimes as a corner back, occasionally as full back, was replaced in that latter position by another Athy man and former Castlemitchell player, Danny Flood. Danny would go on to have a long and illustrious career with Kildare winning a Leinster senior championship medal with the county in 1956. Peadar was one of the foursome with Jimmy Curtis, Ned Conway Mossy Reilly, all members of Castlemitchell Football Club who in a junior match against Dublin were, I believe, the first Castlemitchell players to play in Croke Park. Peadar, Ned, Danny and other Athy men including Mick Carolan, Jimmy Curtis and Brendan Kehoe, to name just a few, were part of the pantheon of local sporting heroes of the 1950s and later. They achieved sporting success on the field of play and secured the admiration of those of us who played football but who could never hope to emulate their achievements. Another death during the week was that of Mary Carbery whose husband Jerry shared a classroom with me for several years while we both attended the Christian Brothers school in St. John’s Lane. The large attendance at the funeral in St. Michael’s Parish Church spoke volumes for the esteem in which Mary was held and the respect we all hold for Jerry and the Carbery family members. Mary’s daughter, Mary Lys, spoke eloquently at the funeral mass and recalled her mother’s words one Christmas morning as together they prepared Christmas dinner. Those words ‘we are creating memories’ spoke of the wisdom and love of a kind, thoughtful mother. Throughout our lives we create memories, not just for ourselves but also for those with whom we come in contact. Sometimes those memories are short lived but the treasured memories we hold are long lasting. They last a lifetime, as for example, the youthful memories of sporting successes on the football fields of 65 years or more ago. Our sympathies are extended to the families of Peadar Dooley and Mary Carbery.

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