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The Thirties

By Declan Heaney

A very enjoyable meeting took place in July 1983, at Tierneys Foxhall, when many of the former players of Garrymore got together to recall their memories of the earlier days of the Club. As the evening progressed, memories were jogged and the history of the infancy of Garrymore , intermingled with many humorous anecdotes, began to emerge. Most of those present were from the 1930s and the first match to be recalled was a game in the late ‘20s between Ballyglass and Hollymount played in Dolan’s field (Pulbawn). Ballyglass players on that day were: Jack Toole, Peter Toole, Petie Toole, William Donnelly, Gearld Heaney, Paddy Rattigan, Mick Rattigan, Bertie Dolan, Eddie Toole, Tom Murphy, Mick Ruane, Fr.James Heaney. Ballyglass won.

The next game was also a challenge between Ballyglass (Garrymore) and Clooncastle played in Hessions field. Ballyglass fielded much the same team as before with Walter Heaney scoring the winning goal.

In their first year of affiliation, 1937 Garrymore (the name of the club was now changed because of the parish rule ), won the South Mayo championship but lost on an objection to Knock. Garrymore had by now, a good panel of players and an exceptional Chairman and Manager in Tom Murphy. The full Panel was – Paddy Murphy, Petie O’Toole, Pete Coyne, Paddy Quinn, Pake Fitzgearld, Pat Varley, Willie Varley, Martin Lawless, Mick Glynn, Bertie Dolan, Pat McDonagh (Ultaun): Aloysius Heaney, Jack Ryan, Richie Hennelly, Jack Gill, Tony O’Toole (father of Anton O’Toole): Paddy O’Toole, John Nally, Mickey Heaney. The jerseys, which were borrowed from Shrule for the South Mayo final, were blue with a v-neck.

Garrymore won the South Mayo final again in 1939 and players such as Mick Heaney, Mick Greene and ‘Red’ Willie Varley had been introduced into the side. Paddy Murphy recalled a game in Castlebar between a South Mayo side (consisting mostly of players from Claremorris and Garrymore), and Castlebar. The game took place at the beginning of the Second World War when transport was limited. “It wasn’t so much the match but what happened afterwards I remembered”, said Paddy. “We were travelling in a lorry belonging to Mick Boyle from Claremorris which broke down just as we reached Castlebar. The Garrymore players on duty were Fr. Donal Dolan, Paddy Joe Heaney, Mick Heaney, Mattie Joyce, Petie O’Toole, Pete Coyne, Paddy and Mick McDonagh.

Having played the match we decided it had to be ‘Shank’s Mare’ for the return Journey. We had only got as far as Breaffy, when some players, because of the heat of the day and exertions of the match, decided to stop at a tavern for some refreshments. The rest of us pushed ahead. When we were just coming into Balla, with darkness falling, we heard an unusual sound behind us, On looking around we saw an exceptionally big man on an exceptionally small donkey, and the sound was that of his feet dragging along the road. The man in question was none other than the legendary Henry Dixon, who was playing that evening.

“Had ye to walk all the way home. Paddy?”.”No, the lorry caught up to us at Brize and twenty weary players got aboard, but we were only gone about a mile when she ran out of petrol. All dismounted and away we go again on foot”

Fr. Dolan (who was present at the meeting) – “it was daylight when I got home. As a matter of fact I was just in time to say mass.”

“I suppose you went to bed for the day.Fr Dolan?.”

Fr Dolan “You must be joking – I had to spend the day saving hay, and I was going around the field half asleep.”

Garrymore had great success in South Mayo during the middle and Late ‘thirties, but a County title eluded them – they failed to Crossmolina in the County final of 1939. Mick Fitzgearld and Petie O’Toole still sport divisional medals won during the period. But the outstanding feature of the period was the loyality and comradeship that was built up – and it still evident fifty years later on that night in Foxhall.