For the full story  we recommend you buy “A History of Kinvara GAA”, by Toddie Byrne. For sale in local shops or contact Garret 087-9513442.
Its all in this book produced in 2006, so starting reading!

However If you can’t wait, I will reproduce an extract of the early days of Kinvara GAA….

Hurling – Pre Foundation of G.A.A

The very fact that there were 3 teams in Kinvara – Doorus, Killina and Kinvara – at the time the G.A.A was founded in 1884 means that hurling (or a game of goals) had been played there, as in many parts of South Galway, for many generations. As far back as 1597, the Galway City Council passed a law, which forbade hurling. A Frenchman, Coquebert de Montbret, who travelled through Ireland in 1791, wrote that the game began in August and was usually played in a commonage or turlough. The ball was made of cow’s hair knitted tightly together and covered with a leather covering. The hurley’s shaped more like hockey sticks, roughly carved from ash and blackthorn. The Frenchman was struck by the different coloured hats worn and the frenzied players, while the spectators watched and danced. In the period 1791 to 1884, there are references to teams from East Galway crossing the River Shannon to play teams in Offaly and Tipperary.

The Great Famine had an adverse effect on the game of hurling, with deaths from starvation and emigration denuding the countryside. The Catholic clergy were not over anxious to promote the game as they looked on games as occasions of intemperance and injurious to morals of younger classes. The police were suspicious of mass gatherings while the landlords, magistrates and protestant clergy frowned on playing games on Sundays. Major Wilson Lynch, landlord in Galway City and Doorus, Kinvara, however, was complimented for his support in promoting the game. He must certainly have encouraged his Doorus tenants and where better to play the game than in the wide expansive field behind Doorus N.S.

The evictions and police harassment gradually stirred up the flames of nationalism. And it can be quite accurate to state that the Irish Republican Brotherhood, were actually using occasions of matches and athletic events to awaken the people. This led to a monster convention being held in Athenry in 1882 where a branch of the National League was set up. Home Rule, land reforms and tenant rights were now being demanded. The West was awake.

The earliest recorded rules were the Killimor Rules 1869 (Perhaps there are earlier rules in the Brehon Laws). Surprisingly there were no rules for size of pitch, width and height of goalposts, number of players, sidelines or puck out frees. Basically there was no handling of the ball – all ground hurling. Only goals could be scored. Not less than thirty players could be accepted to hurl a challenge; teams to wear different coloured caps; no substitutes allowed unless for accidents.

Michael Cusack

Born in Carron, Co.Clare, he advanced from being a school monitor to being a teacher. He taught for 5 years (1866 – 1871) in Lough Cutra N.S. Gort, where he made friends with many people in South Galway. After some years being involved in various sports and athletics in Dublin, he set about reorganising athletics and embraced the cause of restoring the Irish language. He founded the Metropolitan hurling club. A challenge was issued by Killimor and a game was fixed for Ballinasloe. It was to be played in four half hour sessions, with no tripping or taking holds. A timekeeper, touch judges and umpires were appointed. Cusack refused to continue after the first session and determined to draw up more suitable rules. However, as was the feature at the time, pony races, athletics and tug-of-war events took place after. 1884 was to be “the” year for Michael Cusack when on November 1st the G.A.A. was set up with approval of Church and State under the patronage of Dr. Croke, Bishop of Cashel and with Maurice Davin, an Olympic hammer winner, as first president.

Early G.A.A. Rules

In olden times, prior to the foundation of the G.A.A., goals were from fence to fence and at least 500-yard lines. Gradually the idea of upright poles as goals emerged and for some time, there were disputes over width between goals. Eventually the G.A.A rules were accepted and have been well modified since. The rules laid down in February 1885 were as follows:
1. Ground 200 yds by 150 yds.
2. Boundary lines at least 5 yards from fence.
3. Two upright posts 20 feet apart, crossbar 10 feet from the ground.
4. Ball is not to be lifted off the ground with the hand while in play.
5. Not less than 14 or more than 21 players aside.
6. Umpire for each side and a referee, who will decide in cases where umpires disagree. He also keeps time and throws in the ball at the commencement of each game.
7. Time of play: one hour and twenty minutes. Sides to be changed at half time. The ordinary practice in Galway was that the sides changed when a goal was scored.
8. Players who catch, trip or push from behind are disqualified and a free puck to the opposite side.
9. Same penalty for player who strikes intentionally another player.
10. In a line ball situation, the referee or umpire threw in the ball.
11. If the ball goes wide the goalkeeper shall have a free puck out, twenty yards from the goal posts.
12. Before commencement of game, hurlers shall draw up in two straight lines in centre of field, catch hands or hurleys and then separate.

The 1st Year – 1885

From July to December, a series of matches took place in Craughwell, Clarenbridge, Oranmore, Tiernevin, Ballindereen, Labane, Tubber and Doorus. These were great social occasions, with marching brass bands and fife and drum bands, cheers for Dr. Croke, with athletic events and dancing. While many clubs turned up at each venue, only two matches were played as a rule. Up to 7,000 attended each venue. The first mention of Doorus and Killina teams relates to Labane tournament held on November 21st. The following week Killina beat Gort and lost to Kilchreest in Tubber tournament. The last tournament of the year was held in Doorus on December 21st. Doorus beat Ballindereen and Kilmacduagh beat a Tubber/Killina combination. At this later tournament, Kinvara, strange to relate, didn’t come – probably the start of a split between Land Leaguers and G.A.A players. A feature of these tournaments was the police harassment, where names were taken of players and spokesmen. By the years end, the new movement had take root.

1886 to 1900
Tournaments were held throughout the South and east of the County. Football also began to take root but not yet in the South. Athletic events were common in regattas as at Kinvara on October 12th 1888, where a 12-ton hooker race was won by Keane, with Connolly second and O’Brien third. The puckaun race was won by John Keane with Pat Keane second and Tom Moran third. Sports were held in Hansberry’s field, where footracing, donkey races and bag races took place. There was a big tournament organised by Killina players and played in Cahermore Turlough in October 86 – the last quarter of the year, the favourite time for matches when all the farm work – done manually- was finished. The same year, a meeting held in Doorus chapel yard after mass, unanimously elected James Mahon, formerly of Northampton, as captain. There was still disunity between Kinvara (National League supporters) and Doorus (mostly G.A.A.). With evictions rife, the G.A.A. became embroiled in the ongoing political situation and support at tournaments for the National League increased.

In this period, we read of points being scored in a match – for sending ball wide over the end line, not over the bar. We also read of County Conventions, county teams and Annual Congress. There is no record if any Kinvara parish involvement.

On April 12th 1889, after Mass at Doorus Church, Fr Michael Tully C.C. Kinvara, addressed the male portion of the congregation in forcible language and pointed out the utter folly of people in one part of the parish being at variance with the other – “leave aside your local differences” he asked them “to go up and establish a hurling club with men of Kinvara”. This they did soon after and the called the club “The Killoveragh Club”, the ancient name of the parish. John Curtin, Doorus, was elected president, Michael Huban, Doorus, Treasurer, Michael O’Donohue, Kinvara, Vice-President and James Kilkelly, Secretary.

The end of the decade brought about a split in the G.A.A. throughout the county over the Parnell saga with calls for his retirement, matched with reports of rousing receptions for him, especially in Galway where Kinvara was represented by P.Burke. Parnell’s death in 1891 brought about a gradual reconciliation between the various elements and members of the G.A.A.

Of local interest in 1892 was the death of local medical doctor in Kinvara, P.W. Nally, leaving his property to the Mercy Sisters of Gort, who founded a secondary school there. His brother, Pat Nally, was an ardent Parnellite in Mayo, who was wrongly imprisoned in 1883 for ten years penal servitude. If he had denounced Parnell, he would have been set free; yet he never whimpered.

The G.A.A., particularly hurling, went through a weak period in the mid 90s with activity confined to occasional tournaments. By 1897, evictions and agrarian troubles had sapped the enthusiasm of the leaders and left many clubs without a shepherd. It was hard for the county Board to keep central control. It was very difficult for many clubs far from railway stations to attend meetings and even to compete on competitions. Believe it or not, cricket was still very popular, not only in the towns, but in many country districts ! The game of hurling was apparently alive in Kinvara because they were affiliated and had entered a team. There are unfortunately no results available. Not to mention team members. At the Annual Convention that year, Kinvara was represented by Michael O’Donoghue and Michael O’Rourke.

1900 brought about a great transformation in the G.A.A. in County Galway. The division of the county into baronies was over. The County Board took full control, individual clubs were upgraded and open draws for the County Championships were made. 22 teams (excluding Kinvara) entered the hurling championship. Emigration was again beginning to take its toll in Kinvara.

It was now that the parish rule was introduced for the first time.

The early 1900’s
There was a lot of poverty and emigration throughout the period and indeed for many years after. Still the G.A.A. survived. Nationalism flourished: the hurling and football tournaments, the marching bands, and the athletic meetings kept the spirit of the people alive, while the politicians were seeking Home Rule and indeed many G.A.A. members were working ahead secretly for complete separation from England. This caused splits in the G.A.A. at both Club and County level but could not hinder the progress of an organisation that to-day has roots, even in many places abroad.

There are no records of any Kinvara G.A.A. involvement for 1901 or 1902 or 1904. In 1903 Duras were beaten by Kilcolgan in the first round of the County Championship – with no group games, back door entries or relegation battles. These all came in the evolution of the manner in which the championships were organised.

1905 was an important year for Kinvara G.A.A. with teams entered in hurling (v. Kiltormer – the first of many great games down through the years) and football (v. Clontuskert). The following year 1906, New Quay (Co.Clare) beat Kinvara in football by 2-6 to nil. The hurlers beat Kilchreest in the championship but lost to Ardrahan. In September, there was a monster gathering in Athenry for the County Hurling and Football finals, Dunmore winning the football and Duniry the hurling. A Prominent figure at the meeting Robert Gregory of Coole Park. In Ocotber there was a great hurling match between Kinvara and Kilbeacanty. The following report appeared in the local paper: “a very stiff game it was. At half time the field was upset by the interference of the “black coats” and a very dangerous combat ensued between hurlers and black coats”. It looked as if the match would be abandoned but the referee John Gormally (Gort) restored peace. Kinvara won by 9 points to 5 points – the first recorded hurling win, but sadly players names are not known.

Another first that year was Kinvara’s first player on a county team – J. Nolan, Gortaboy.

Ml. O’Donoghue (who lived where Tully’s is now) was the leading G.A.A. activist in Kinvara from 1906 on and was Chairman of the County Board in 1910 and 1911. There is a headstone erected in his honour in Mountcross old graveyard. It was reported at the time (July on and was Chairman of the County Board in 1910 and 1911. There is a headstone erected in his honour in Mountcross old graveyard. It was reported at the time (July 1907): “Mr. Donoghue is the means of having a team in Kinvara and since that team was affiliated they have done well of themselves having been beaten by none but the very best and that by a small margin. I hope Kinvara will be stronger next year

1910

Kinvara were again drawn against Beagh and again an objection followed. It was alleged that a player named McInerney from Clare played with Beagh. The match was replayed with Kinvara the winners. The next game was against Galway city. Kinvara apparently lost but objected because a man named Ruffey, who had played with Castlegar the previous year, played with Galway City. He must have been entitled to because Kinvara lost out; the appeal actually ended up in the Connaught Council. That year M.Quinn and J. Glynn (probably from Doorus) were Kinvara delegates to meetings. Playing on the County hurling team, which was beaten by Cork, were J. Moylan (Stephen’s uncle) and Pat Mahon.

1911

This is the first time that a reported list of G.A.A. activists appeared, of people appointed to collect in the parish for club purposes and unofficially to defray expenses of Moy cattle drivers.

Traught and Parkmore – J.O’Connor, M.Fahy, J.Glynn
Knockaculleen, Newtown, Cregboy – M.Huban, J.Connors, T.Melia
Geeha and Cloosh – M.Mahon, P.Fahy and P.Kelly
Knogra and Kinturla – M.Quinn, M.Carthy, J.Quinn, J.Keane
Tawnagh and Mountscribe – B.Sullivan, J.Mahon, B. Kilkelly
Crushoa – P.Quinn, B.Hanlon
Cappamore, Gortnaglough, Cahererlin and Boherbee – M.Donohue, J.Nilan, M.Nilan
Cahernamadra – M.Keane, P.Picker, M.Moran
Funchin and New Line – M.Kelly, J.Hynes, P.Halvey
Inishroo and Shancloch – M.Killeen, J.Geagan
Loughcurra – D.Hanlon, P.Callanan, M.Morris
Caheravoneen – J.Keane, T.Glynn
Killina – P.Kelly, J.Kavanagh
Dungora – W.Winkle, P.Hynes
Aughinish – M.Kinnane, Tom Glynn
Kinvara – J.Moylan, P.Sullivan, B.Hanlon, B.Quinn, J.Kilkelly, M.Conole

It was also reported that three sterling Gaels, T.Mahon, C.Curtain and P.Kelly had emigrated to the U.S.A to the great loss of the G.A.A.

Kinvara took part in tournaments in Ballindereen (where Mahon, Kinvara, and Gibbons, Ballindereen, tied in rising and striking the Sliotar – one more puck was take as a decider and Gibbons won, Ardrahan and Gort. They played Duniry in the County Championship. An interesting snippet of news reported was that the Kinvara hurlers, on the proposal of Michael O’Donohue, County Chairman, volunteered to go to Gort to build up fences for an evicted tenant restored to his holding. Things were beginning to heat up.

1912

No Kinvara team that year but B.Hanlon and J.Kilkelly played on the South Galway team in the Gort Tournament (in aid of prisoners’ defence fund). It is reported that the Kinvara band attended the Ballindereen G.A.A. Sports. Was there one since ?

In the County at large, The G.A.A. split which started the previous year continued on. Still the games were played (even with two organizing bodies) and the G.A.A.flourished.

1913

This year saw some changes in the G.A.A. world. The number of players was reduced from 17 to 15, Michael O’Donohue, who worked so hard for the G.A.A. in Kinvara and the county, died. The split within the County Board ended. And games from now on were organized on a divisional basis, until the system was changed in 1975. Kinvara was in the South Board. At the first South Board convention, Kinvara was represented by J.Kavanagh D.C and B.Hanlon. July 5th recorded that in an effort to restore unity in the Kinvara parish – divisions among G.A.A. members and United Irish League supporters – a meeting was called. The following committee was formed: Thomas P. Corless, Chairman, James Kavanagh, Michael Curtin, Bartly Quinn, M.Mahon, M.Melia, P.Hanlon, J.Nilan, P.O’Dea, B.Kilkelly and B.Mahon (Doorus). August 16th recorded a meeting of the South Board with T.Coen in the chair. The delegates discussed erecting a memorial to the late Ml. O’Donohue, Kinvara. Later it was announced the Kinvara Sports Committee had decided to hold a sports meeting on September 28th. A most attractive programme of athletic and cycling events was approved. The programme also included some aquatic events and a special prize was offered for the best rendering of the “Ould Plaid Shawl”. T.P.Corless was President of the Committee.

Politics was again in the air. At a South Board meeting, a letter signed by Eoin O’Neill was read by J.J. Gormally, Secretary, explaining the purpose and objecs of the Irish Volunteers.

1914

The year the 1st World War began : very little is recorded about Kinvara, except that the hurling team was beaten by Kiltartan in the South Board Championship and matches to raise funds for the O’Donohue memorial were held in Kilchreest.

1915

The great war had its repercussions in the country and on the G.A.A. Many had gone to war to fight for small nations. Many had emigrated, thus leaving the association weaker. A strange result of the war was that paper went scarce, newspapers became smaller and so coverage of the games suffered. The South Board itself was in conflict with the County Board and joined the new National Gaelic Athletic Association. At a meeting of the South Board held on June 26th, Kinvara was represented by J.Kavanagh and J.Nilan. October 23rd recorded a hurling match replay between Kinvara and Kilchreest. Kinvara were in sparkling form – the Sullivan brothers and J. Moylan were conspicuous.

1916

The Great War was at its height. Rumours of a National uprising were in the air. Many of the hurlers were members of the Volunteers. Many were imprisoned or on the run. After the rising, confined mainly to Dublin, many leaders and hurlers, who gathered under the banner of Liam Mellowes and later disbanded, were captured and imprisoned in Wales. Surprisingly, competitions continued, even though fixtures were postponed for various reasons from Sunday to Sunday. Kinvara are recorded to have met Kilchreest in the South Board Championship.

1917

This was again a difficult year for the G.A.A. in Galway. The split was healed and South Galway was welcomed back into the County Board. Despite all the political and personality divisions, the overall development of the G.A.A. was foremost in people’s minds. Earlier in the year, Kinvara drew with Ballindereen in the West board Junior Championship.

1918

The year Sinn Fein swept the country and first Dail Eireann was set up in January 1919. Many leaders were in prison, public meetings were proclaimed, police and military harassments were common. On August 3rd, it was reported that military occupied Kinvara in anticipation of G.A.A. sports. Still the G.A.A. lived on.

1919

The year 1919 brought “troubled times”. Because many of the hurlers and footballers were strong Sinn Feiners, seeking national independence, the British Government did its best to suppress the movement. But as in previous years, the spirit of the G.A.A. survived.

P.J. Sullivan (Kinvara) was reported as being in the County team beaten by Cork in the All Ireland hurling semi-final.

Kinvara teams were entered in both Senior and Junior Championship. They were beaten by Gort in the Seniors. They lost the Juniors, again to Gort, but lodged and objection on the grounds (1) the rope in the crossbar sagged and (2) a Gort follower assaulted a goal umpire. The South Board ordered a replay but the decision was appealed to the County Board. There is no outcome available, except that Gurteen won the County Championship.

1920

The War of Independence was in full flight. There were shootings at landlords, attacks on policemen and police barracks. Many prominent members of the G.A.A. were imprisoned. Houses were burned and terrible atrocities took place. From reports, it is clear that despite the gloom and doom, games of hurling and football were still held. Kinvara again fielded a Senior team and a Junior team, playing Ballindereen and Kilchreest respectively in the 1st round. Kinvara won the Junior match because Kilchreest had failed to field a team. But in the interests of the game, Kinvara agreed to a replay, which they lost by two points. They lost the Senior game.

Of interest is a decesion taken at County Board meeting that goal nets be provided to avoid disputes and uncertainties. They didn’t solve “the goal in the net” with Ardrahan many years later.

P.Kilkelly and W. Hynes were regular delegates at South Board meetings. At year’s end, Gort Club intimated the intention of playing M.Quinn, Crushoa – one if Kinvara’s best ever hurlers- the following year, as he had taken up residence in the parish.

1921

On the political front at the January 1921 elections, Sinn Fein won all the seats outside the six county area. Until a truce was signed in July, it was a warfare situation between the Irish volunteers and the British forces. The Black and Tan regime was in full cry. Shootings were widespread. During the second half of the year, games were played but there is no mention of activity in Kinvara. Many of the players had emigrated, some were in prison, while more were “on the run”.

1922 / 1923

With the signing of the Treaty and the split which led to the Civil War, G.A.A. activities were limited in many parts of the country. There were many anti – treaty men, however, who put loyalty to the G.A.A. before political advantage and accepted majority decisions and even played a noble part, through refereeing and organizing , in keeping the G.A.A. united. Divisional Board and County Board meetings were held, and County hurling and football teams were beaten in the All Ireland Finals. The 1923 Hurling Final – Galway’s first- was not played until September 20th 1924. Kinvara delegates at South Board meetings were J. Kilkelly, J.Quinn and J.Holland.

1924

An interesting objection by Peterswell against Kinvara is reported on July 12th 1924. The basis of the objection was that the rope crossbar was only 7 feet 6 inches from the ground. During the debate, J. Kilkelly asked for a definition of a crossbar. J. Mahony, Ardrahan, said he fixed up the pitch and that better teams than Kinvara or Petersell had played there. By 12 otes to 4, a replay was defeated.

1925/1926

Kinvara did not compete in the 1925 South Board Championships, Senior or Junior hurling. S.Quinn and M. Shaughnessy were Club delegates that year and the following year.

For the first time, a scoring board was erected for games, but only at larger venues and important inter-county games.

The South Board allowed seven-a-side tournaments and sports meetings during the best part of the year. Kinvara, after drawing with Kilbeacanty in a League game were later beaten by Kilmacduagh, with the two Quinns best on the Kinvara team.

1927

The county Board Convention of that year was the largest ever. It was reported as good humoured and very orderly with no bickerings or interruptions. The Kinvara delegates listed were Curtin and O’Shaughnessy, probably the late Pake and John Joe, two outstanding Gaels. Kinvara were entered in the intermediate Championship. Tournaments were again common, with Kinvara reported as beaten by Kilbeacanty in the Kilmacduagh tournament.

1928

This was not a great year for the G.A.A. Objections and counter-objections were too common; many teams failed to honour their fixtures. On the bright side, national teachers organized games for juveniles, and the Secondary Schools were also organized. Kinvara played in the Intermediate Championship. Pake Curtin organized a hurling tournament in Doorus where Kinvara had a sweeping victory over Ardrahan in the final. Best for Kinvara were Gardiner, Connors, Quinn, Reidy, O’Shaughnessy, Sullivan, and Curtin. Mr M.J.Hawes, Kinvara, threw in the ball. Bob McTigue was an efficient referee.

(Extract from “A History of Kinvara GAA”, by Toddie Byrne