History of the North Kerry Board

When County Convention of 1924 adopted a Listowel motion calling for the setting up of Divisional Boards to promote Hurling and Football all over Kerry, the stage was set for eighty six exciting years and eighty six tumultuous years in North Kerry.

Maurice McGrath, the then Postmaster of Listowel was the genius behind the motion and it was fitting that he should be the first President of a North Kerry Board. Six Clubs affiliated for the new League, Ballydonoghue, Ballylongford, Duagh, Faha, Listowel and Moyvane. Five pound grant was given to each team, five sets of jersies were to be obtained, Listowel having their own already and the winners were to get a set of gold medals while the runners up received a football. The competition was won by Moyvane in that famous match known as the "North Kerry All Ireland". But it was not the first league in North Kerry. In 1918/20 leagues had been run under the aegis of a league Board set up under the auspices of Listowel club. Listowel won the 1918 league, and Dromlought (Ballydonoghue) that of 1919/20.

Many players brought themselves to the notice of the County selectors through playing in the North Kerry League, and when Maurice McGrath died in 1928 other hands took up his work, and steered the Board through the bitterness which was engendered in the early 30s, the difficulties of the "Emergency" and the emigration of the 50s.

Junior, Minor and Intermediate competitions were played, and in the 1950s Juvenile competition begun, and have been extended to the different age groups over the years. The original six clubs are now seventeen and the 31 games of 1924 have grown to almost 300. But the games are still as keenly contested as ever, even though the pitch invasions and the melees which lasted for half an hour are thankfully less common than former years.

Yes, the spirit and the dedication are still there, and a North Kerry Senior Medal is the pride of any players collection.


Foundation of the GAA

When Michael Cusack moved to Dublin, in 1877, to open his academy preparing Irish students for the Civil Service examinations, sport throughout Ireland was the preserve of the middle and ascended classes.

Within Cusack's academy sport was central with students who were encouraged to participate in rugby, cricket, rowing and weight-throwing.

In the early 1880's Cusack turned his attentions to indigenous Irish sports. In 1882 he attended the first meeting of the Dublin Hurling Club, formed ‘for the purpose of taking steps to re-establish the national game of hurling'.

The weekly games of hurling, in the Phoenix Park, became so popular that, in 1883, Cusack had sufficient numbers to found ‘Cusack's Academy Hurling Club' which, in turn, led to the establishment of the Metropolitan Hurling Club.

On Easter Monday 1884 the Metropolitans played Killiomor, in Galway. The game had to be stopped on numerous occasions as the two teams were playing to different rules.

It was this clash of styles that convinced Cusack that not only did the rules of the games need to be standardised but that a body must be established to govern Irish sports.

Cusack was also a journalist and he used the nationalist press of the day to further his cause for the creation of a body to organise and govern athletics in Ireland.

On October 11 1884 an article, written by Cusack, called ‘A word about Irish Athletics' appeared in the United Ireland and The Irishman. These articles were supported a week later by a letter from Maurice Davin, one of three Tipperary brothers, who had dominated athletics for over a decade and who gave his full support to the October 11 articles.

A week later Cusack submitted a signed letter to both papers announcing that a meeting would take place in Hayes's Commercial Hotel, Thurles on November 1 1884.

On this historic date Cusack convened the first meeting of the ‘Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of national Pastimes'. Maurice Davin was elected President, Cusack, Wyse-Power and McKay were elected Secretaries and it was agreed that Archbishop Croke, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt would be asked to become Patrons.

From that initial, subdued first meeting grew the Association we know today.