Leitrim emigrants in London GAA

Leitrim natives, like those from other counties in Ireland, emigrated to all parts of the world and some of those ended up in England and London. Their destination upon arrival in London was generally influenced by recommendations and contacts from other Leitrim emigrants. These connections were important for work, accommodation and for social links but also dtermined the GAA team they played for!

Leitrim natives, like those from other counties in Ireland, emigrated to all parts of the world and some of those ended up in England and London. Their destination upon arrival in London was generally influenced by recommendations and contacts from other Leitrim emigrants. These connections were important for work, accommodation and for social links but also dtermined the GAA team they played for!

Leitrim natives, like those from other counties in Ireland, emigrated to all parts of the world and some of those ended up in England and London. Their destination upon arrival in London was generally influenced by recommendations and contacts from other Leitrim emigrants. These connections were important for work, accommodation and for social links but also dtermined the GAA team they played for!

by Sean Mulvey & Prionnsias Redican

In the early 1900s, Owen Mitchell from Leitrim was Secretary of the London county Board. Unfortunately we have not been able to ascertain what part of Leitrim he came from and what club he was involved in London.

Due to lack of information indicating names of Leitrim players involved in the London clubs, and no doubt ther were many, the first recorded that we know was Frank Fallon from Dromhair who played for Thomas McCurtains in the 1920s. Also Peter and Jim Feeley who hailed from Kinlough who played for tara in the thirties and forties. Peter was a mentor of the club up until the late fifties.

THE FORTIES

In this era many great players from Leitrim played for both Leitrim and London winning championships both in the forties and fifties. Players and Club members in the Forties:

Frank McGrail (Ballinaglera / St. Patrick’s), Jerry Shanley (Bornacoola / Tara), Paddy Dolan (Carrick-on-Shannon / Tara), Jackie Murray (Gortletteragh / Tara), James Canning (Gortletteragh / Tara), Pat Bohan (Gortletteragh / Tara), Jim Butler (Jamestown / Tara), Mick Lavelle (Mohill / Tara), Willie McGarty (Mohill / Tara), Dan McGarty (Mohil / Tara)

Jerry Shanley played for Leitrim in the 1938 All-ireland and he played for London for many years. Paddy Dolan also played for Leitrim in the 1946 All-Ireland and then came to London. One of his notable ‘footballing’ journeys was when he travelled by train and boat to Carrick-on-Shannon to play in the Connacht Senior Championship on the Sunday, leaving London Friday night and returning to London on the Monday!

Jackie Murray, also played for both Leitrim and London. He played on the London team defeated by Dublin in the Junior All-Ireland im 1948. willie Mcgarty will be remembered for his passinate support and hard work, which spanned over thirty years with Tara, and for his influence in getting ‘many a Tara man’ working with London Transport. Jim Butler played for many counties including Leitrim, Roscommon, London and an All-Ireland semi-final for Galway in 1945 against Cork. Frank McGrail was a player and an officer with St. Patricks formany years and also was one of the founding members of the Leitrim Association. Paddy Dolan, jackie Murray and Mick Lavelle acted as Secretaries during this era.

THE FIFTIES

The fifties saw and end to war times and a huge influx of players to London. Some of those would have been a great loss to Leitrim.

Players and Club members of the Fifties:

Jim Gill (Aughavas / Tara), James McGovern (Aughavas / Tara), Aloysius Blessing (Aughavas / St. Vincent’s), Packies Nealan (Aughnasheelin / Round Towers), Eugene McGrail (Ballinaglera / Tara), Ray Beirne (Bornacoola / St. Vincent’s), Sean McWeeney (Carrick-on-Shannon / Tara), Mick Dillon (Cloone/ St. Vincent’s), Pee Dillon (Cloone / Tara), Mick Mullins (Dromhair / Tara), Proinnsias Redican (Frnagh / Tara), Joe McHugh (Fenagh / Tara), Vincent O’Rourke (Fenagh / Tara), Packie Early (Fenagh / St Vincent’s), Joe Bohan (Gortletteragh / Tara), Seamus Browne (Gortletteragh / Tara), Pat Murphy (Gorvagh / Tara), Brian Mulvry (Kiltubrid / St. Monica’s), Tommy Gill (Leitrim Village / Tara), Packie McGarty (Mohill / Tara), Michael Gallegher (Mohill / Tara), Michel O’Rourke (Mohill / St. Monica’s), Tommy O’Rourke (Mohill / St. Monica’s)

Two of the greatest players Leitrim lost were Jim Gill and Packie McGarty. Packie returned to Leitrim to play all games and times were obviously improving ‘a little bit’ as he was able to fly! Mick Mullins was another outstanding player for Leitrim who played against Galway in the Connacht final in 1958 and whose son Brendan went on to play international rugby for Ireland. Mick Gallagher is renowned for his generosity in providing transport in the early years for underage football and also providing work for many players.

THE SIXTIES

The swinging sixties saw much movement in all directions and London had the pleasure of many Leitrim people in that decade. Players and Club members in the 60s:

Brendan Ward (Annaduff / Tara), Leo Heslin (Aughavas / Tara), Mick Blessing (Aughavas / Tara), Terry Blessing (Aughavas / Tara), Val Fitzpatrick (Aughavas / Tara), Fergus O’Rourke (Aughavas / Tara), Pat Donoghue (Aughavas / Tara), Albert Cooney (Aughavas / Tara), Sean McCabe ( Aughavas / Tara), Pat Crossan ( Ballinamore / Tara), Eugene Mitchell (Cloone / Tara), Charlie Kilkenny (Cloone / Tara), Hughie Donner (Cloone / Tara), Seamus Redican (Fenagh / Tara), Andrew Redican ( Fenagh / Tara), Mick Murphy (Fenagh / Tara), JIm Early (Fenagh / Tara), Joe Gilhaney (Fenagh / Tara), Jim Rutledge (Kiltubrid / Tara), Padraig Rodahan (Kiltubrid / Tara), Sean Rodahan (Kiltibrid / Tara), John McGuire (Kinlough / Tara), Jimmy Gallagher (Mohill / Tara), Michael Lawler (Mohill / Tara), Seamus Ward ( Mohill / Tara), Liam Flynn (Mohill / Tara), Davie Doris (Mohill / Tara), Michael Rowley (Mohill / Tara), Michael McGuinness (Mohill / Tara), Frank McDermott (Manorhamilton / McCurtains), Jim Guckian (Carrick / McCurtains), Seamus Heron (Drumshambo / McCurtains).

Another great character to come to London in the sixties was Pat Crossan who won a championship with Ballinamore in 1956 against Kinlough and on occasions when he had a couple of pints when he was asked ‘’you won a championship yourself Pat?’’ he would reply “and I scored points in the final!”.

Pat Donoghue was a Treasurer and Chairman for many years of Tara football Club. Seamus Heron from Drumshanbo arrived in London in the late 60s and became affiliated with Thomas McCurtains when working with John Gallagher who brought him to Seven Kings Liford, Essex. Seamus, who played for Leitrim minors, went on to become a prominent member of the London GAA. Hefereed the last GAA game played at Wembley stadium. Seamus and his brothers, who followed him, were all influential in encouraging anyone that was going to emigrate to go play for McCurtains.

THE SEVENTIES

The seventies followed with some of Leitrims best coming to London. Players and Club members of the 70s:

John McGarry (Annaduff / Tara), Terry McGuinness (Annaduff / Tara), Terry Shortt (Aughavas / Tara), John Joe Williams (Aughavas / Tara), Paul Ganley (Bornacoola / Tara), Tommy Flanagan (Carrick-on-Shannon / Tara), Sean Harte (Cloone / Tara), Pascal Mooney (Drumshanbo / Tara), Michael Curry (Drumshanbo / Geraldines / McCurtains), Jimmy Nugent (Drumshanbo /Guinesses), Pascal Wrynne (Eslin / Tara), Mick Gilhaney (Fenagh / Tara), John McManus (Fenagh / Tara), John-Eddie Wrynne (Fenagh / Tara), Terry McManus (Fenagh / Tara), Noel Mc Manus (Fenagh / Tara), Michael Tighe (Kiltubrid / Tara), Dessie O’Rourke (Kiltyhugh) / Geraldines), Eugene Wyrnne (Kiltyhugh / Geraldines), Frank Keegan (Mohill / Tara), Gerry Keegan (Mohill / Tara), Mick Heron (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Joe Heron (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Francis Heron (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Aidan Heron (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), J Toher (Killargue / McCurtains), Pat Mulvey (Carrick / McCurtains), P Dolan (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Michael Tom Murray (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Jim Charlton (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Willie McGovern (Drumshanbo / McCurtains) Seamus Boyle (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Sean Mulvey (Drumshanbo / McCurtains)

The Keegan brothers were prominent members of the Leitrim and London teams. Frank Keegan captained Leitrim in 1970-71 and with his brothers Gerry and desmond formed the half back line against our famous rivals Roscommon. Frank became Chairman of the Tara football team with John Mc Manus and Tom flanagan acted as Secretary for several years.

Mick Heron a former Leitrim U-21, and London minor u-21 player. Mick is a great ambassador for GAA in London promting the game among all cultures. Mick and wife Christine, like Pronchious and Mary Redican (Tara), offer a home from home to many in their formative years to which many of the players mentioned are forver grateful.

THE EIGHTIES

Emigration continued inot the eighties. Players and Club members of the 80s:

Gerry Duignan (Aughavas / Tara), Sean Faughnan (Aughavas / Tara), John Moran (Aughavas / Tara) Sean Nichol (Aughavas / Tara), Gerry McGuishan (Bornacoola / Tara), Liam Conlon (Ballinamore / Tara), Pat McKiernan ( Ballinamore / Tara), Donal McHugh (Balllinamore / Tara), Brian Breen (Ballinamore / Tir Connail Gaels), Damien Smyth ( Ballinamore / Tara), Ollie Moran (Carrick-on-Shannon / Tara), Brendan Breen ( Carrick-on-Shannon /Tara / St. Marys), Fintan O’Brien (Carrigallen /Tara), Joe Harte (Cloone / Tara), Brian Mulvey (Cloone / Tara), Shane Keegan ( Cloone / Tara / St.Marys), Frank Bohan (Cloone / Tara), Pat Hamilton (Dromhair / Tara / Four Provinces,) Joe Kane (Drumshanbo / Tara), Aidan Heron (Drumshanbo / Tara / Thomas Mc Curtains), Anslem Reynolds (Fenagh / Tara), Bobby O’Rourke (Fenagh / Tara), John Gill (Feangh / St.Mary’s / Tara), Sean Clarke (Gortletteragh / Tara / St.Mary’s), Sean Sorohan (Gortletteragh / Tara / St.Mary’s), Gerry Keeney (Kiltyclogher / Tara), Raymond O’Hagan (Kiltyclogher / Tara), John Wrynne (Kinlough / Tir Connail Gaels), Pat O’Toole (Mohill / St.Marys / Tara), Bobby Mulvey (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Kevin Mulvey (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Tommy Mulvey (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Noel Heron (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Martin McGowan (Drumshanbo / Mc Curtains), Michael Dwyer (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Eamon Dwyer (Drumshanbo / McCurtains), Enda Gilrane (Ballinaglera / McCurtains), Sean Flood (Drumshanbo / McCurtains).

Gerry Duignan is still a current officer of the tara football club and Tara would like to take this opportunity to thank Gerry for the work he secured for many of the above players.

The Leitrim influence in McCurtains continued with the arrival of Wille, Seamus and Sean in the late 70s all three had played county U16 and minor. The 70 and 80’s also saw the emergence of Ladies football in London and was significant when the London ladies played the Leitrim Ladies in Croke Park in the All-Ireland Junior football final.

THE NINETIES

As can be seen from the list below, the flow of emigration ebbed in the nineties reflecting the start of the ‘Celtic Tiger’. Players and Club members of the Nineties:

Aidan Creamer (Aughnasheelin / Tara), Padraig Cornyn (Ballinaglera / Tara), Mark Kiernan (Ballinamore / Tara), Barry Ward (Carrigallen / Tara), Enda Ward ( Carrigallen / Tara), Michael Harkin (Drumkeeran / Tara), Caillin Redican (Drumkeerin / Tara), Finian Redican (Drumkeeran / Tara), Fergus Redican (Drumkeeran / Tara), Sean Glynn (Drumkeeran / Tara), Gearoid Lynch (Drumshanbo / St.Mary’s), Adrian Redican (Fenagh / Tara), Shane Redican (Fenagh / Tara), Damien Redican (Fenagh / Tara), Ciaran Redican (Fenagh / Tara), Kevin Heaney (Gortletteragh / Tara), David Tighe (Kiltubrid / Tara), Joe Dracy (Manorhamilton / Tara), Pat Callaghan (Manorhamilton / Tara), Ollie Mitchell (Manorhamilton / Tara), Tommy Bernie (Mohill / St.Mary’s), Eddie McGlynn (Mohill / Tara)

THE MILLENNIUM YEARS

The flow of players has indeed slowed significantly since the turn of the twenty first century. Players and Club members of the 21st Century:

Gerard Glynn (Drumkeerin / Tara), Paul McDermott (Mohill / Tara), John McGuinness (Mohill / Tara), Philp McGuinness (Mohill / Tara).

The GAA offered many opportunities to young men and women who had emigrated to this foreign land. long before the introduction of direct dialling, Setanta and mobile phones. The weekly training session not only allow us to get fit, it was also offered a social scene and after our many triumps of defeats on a Saturday or Sunday, we would retire to the local ‘watering hole’ to replay the highs and ows of the game over a pint of two of the black stuff, remembering not to drink too many as training was always in the back of our minds.

Through the dedication of many retired players we see a growth in second generation irish playing the game we all love, long may this continue.

This article has only highlighted a few of the people, but every player mentioned and sadly those forgotten has been boundless in their contribution both phsically and financially to theuir clubs, county and country.