For many years the officers and committees of the Emly GAA Club expressed a desire to publish a complete record of the club, its founding in 1886, its developments and achievements ever since. The proposal was aired at various annual general meetings over the past twenty-five years. Lofty thoughts and aspirations from the floor, but who was going to take the initiative and face the challenge head on? The ‘ball’ landed at the skilful feet of Paddy Clancy during his term as club chairman, Paddy took the vital decision to record the club history for posterity.
Once the decision was made, the challenge was accepted and the research began in earnest. In April 1997, Michael and Bill O’Dwyer were invited to meet with the club’s history committee to advise and guide them in their task. Fortunately the club was able to employ some local third level students under the Student Summer Employment Scheme 1997 and again in 1998. Teresa Ryan, Patricia Hennessy, Liam O’Brien, Stephen Burke, Tom Richardson and David Byrne were all involved and played a most important part in finding snippets of information dating back to 1886. The Nationalist offices in Clonmel, the County Library in Thurles and the Limerick Leader archives became focal points for the tedious research which had to be done to gather the relevant information about the club, from its foundation in 1886 to the end of 1999.
The official opening of St. Ailbe’s Park was performed in 1969 by the President of the GAA at that time, Seamus O’Riain. Many improvements have taken place since then. The central location of the pitch is a tremendous asset to all who wish to play and train there. Many great matches have been played in Emly over the years, Inter Club, Inter County and numerous Harty Cup Finals.
Emly GAA has participated in the annual Scor competitions organised by the West and County Boards. The club has organised many memorable Dinner Dances and Social functions for presenting medals to our successful players. The Club’s Centenary Banquet Celebrations in January 1987 was a nostalgic occasion for Emly GAA personnel.
The club is extremely proud of Paddy Russell, one of the association’s top referees for many years and equally proud of Mick Frawley who has served the GAA as a high ranking official at club, divisional, county, provincial and national levels for many years.
The past achievements of the Emly GAA Club, its members and players since 1886, are sufficient reasons to publish and launch in this millennium year 2000, the complete story in “The Parish of Emly History of Gaelic Games and Athletics”. This history was officially launched by the President of the GAA, Sean McCague at a special function in the Golden Thatch on Friday, November 10th in what was an historic occasion for the parish of Emly, Pobal Ailbhe.
Book Review – Emly GAA Club History
Since Centenary year many clubs around the county have recorded their history. Some, like Toomevara, have achieved so much since The Green and Gold Years of Toomevara came out in 1985, that a new volume should be undertaken.
Emly GAA Club recently published its history, The Parish of Emly; History of Gaelic Games and Athletics, edited by Michael O’Dwyer. It is a superb publication, running to over 300 pages, with nearly 150 photographs. Emly is a small parish, close to the Limerick border, and at one stage competed in Limerick. The club was founded in 1886, and there was a link with the great Toomevara Greyhounds, as Jack Raleigh from Emly was brought to the county team by Wedger Meagher in 1913 when Toomevara were representing Tipperary, and so he was on the famous Croke Cup and Thomond Feis Shield victories. He is commemorated in the third verse of the Toome anthem, “Hurrah for Toomevara”-
“God bless you, Meara and McGrath, Raleigh and Hackett too,
Like wise brave Bobby Mockler, you were always loyal and true;
There’s Kelly and Gilmartin- they never miss a ball,
And the Thurles boy, Hugh Shelly,would hole a four foot wall”.
The Club were founder members of the West Board in 1930, and the decades and achievements since are well chronicled in the book. When one thinks of Emly, two people immediately come to mind, Michael Frawley and Paddy Russell.
Michael Frawley fully deserves the chapter on him. He has given distinguished service as player and administrator.He was Chairman of the West Board 1973-76. Two years later he was elected Chairman of the Munster Council, having been a Tipperary delegate to that body since 1968. He became county chairman in 1982, and his term of office was crowned by the staging of the All Ireland hurling final in Semple stadium in Centenary Year. In 1985 he was elected a Trustee of the GAA, the first Tipp man since Robert Frewen in 1888. Since 1997 he has been chairman of the County Football Board.
Paddy Russell is one of the best known referees in the country, having referred in all four provinces, and was the man in charge for the Cork- Meath All Ireland senior football final in 1990 and the Dublin- Tyrone final in 1995.
There is an interesting chapter on Jim Mitchell (1864-1921), a distinguished athlete from Emly. He won National tiltles in the 16lb hammer, 28lb and 56 lb weight with follow. He was one of the athletes and hurlers on the “American Invasion” in 1888. He stayed on in the US and won many more titles there. He later became a journalist, and covered the 1912 Olympics. Michael O’Dwyer and the Club History committee are to be congratulated to an excellent publication which does the parish proud.
Book Launch – Front (left to right): John McGrath, Club Chairman; Sean McCague, President G.A.A.; Michael O’Dwyer, Editor of Book; Most Rev. Dr. D. Clifford, Patron G.A.A.
Book Launch – Front (left to right): Sean McCague, President of GAA who launched the book; Tobias Burke, 105 YEARS OF AGE who was presented with the book by the President; Michael O’Dwyer, Editor of the book. Back (left to right): Paddy Clancy; John McGrath, Club Chairman; Fr. Timmy Bourke; Mick Frawley.