Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Anyone for Cricket?

Was at a fascinating book launch tonight. A new book has been released by one of the Kilkenny Archaeological and Historical Society's luminaries, Michael O' Dwyer, my former neighbour from College Road. Micahel has dedicated a number of years of his life to researching the history of cricket in Kilkenny. Far from being the sport of the wealthy in the county, or the sport exclusively of the protestant ascendancy, Michael's book, 'The History of Cricket in County Kilkenny-The forgotten game' details the over 200 clubs which at one time or another, saw cricket as the universal game in their communities.

Areas like Gowran indeed had active cricket clubs until the mid 50's, before their hurling clubs were even established. Indeed as Michael's friend Peter McQuillan, wittingly infromed the large gathering of people present tonight, a certain J. Carey scored 25 runs against the Palmerstown club from the city in 1970. We don't know for sure if there is a connstion to the God of hurling, bet we do know that uncles of the Henderson clan of Johnstown and now some connections with the Dicksboro hurling club, (who play at Palmerstown!), were prominent cricketers, as were uncles of the famous Fennelly family of Ballyhale Shamrocks, whose family played a prominent role in taking this year's County Championship, and scooping the Leinster club title last Sunday. Other famous hurling familes included the great Lowry Meagher's father, Henry J., who we were told hit the ball into the next field during a game against Mullinahone. Interestingly Henry was present at the founding meeting of the GAA in Hayes Hotel, Thurles in 1884.

My own only connection with cricket in Kilkenny was the wonderful Jack Notley, twice capped Ireland rugby full back, but a man who was also cappped for Ireland in cricket. Jack moved to Kilkenny in the early 50's and having spent a few night's in my wife's home, the then Carmel Hotel, with Marian's mother and father, decided not to leave, only to stay till the day the hotel was sold, over 40 years later!! Jack was a gentleman of the oldest sort, and never tired of talking, and encouraging anybody, particularly young people in their interest in any sport. How Jack would have loved to read Michael's wonderful production. You should do if you get the chance.
Another nice touch was the message received from Ed Joyce, Ireland's new cricket superstar. The young Bray man has an uncle in Kilkenny, teacher Tomás Ó Murchú, who handed Michael a personal message, faxed from the Ashes in Australia, where he is the first Irishman for many years to feature on the world atage of cricket, albeit for the ould enemy. He recorded his memories, and he's hardly old enough for memories, of cricket in Mount Juliet in his youth.


Councillor Seamus Ryan said...

Sean, Interesting to hear about cricket in Kilkenny. I once played cricket (not very well)for Waterford Crystal against Mount Juliet. If I remember correctly we were beaten on the same day!!!

Tomas said...

Interesting night at Butler House Sean .Tomás

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Gar U. Luss. said...

My grandfather played cricket for the Continent cricket club, whose HQ was in Maudlin St. in Kilkenny. Hurling is so strong in the city because of the "hand-eye" co-ordination skills perfected in cricket street leagues.

frenchbrowns said...

Sean, it is amazing to read your blog about cricket in Kilkenny. My mother, who recently passed away, is from the Henderson family from Johnstown. She moved to Oxford in 1947. I have played the game since I was 9 and often heard stories about my grandfather playing cricket. I have just ordered the book and can't wait to read about the family.

seankk said...

Isn't it amazing that this section has attracted more comments than any other. Any member of the Henderson family is a proud Kilkenny person indeed. Give us a shout if you're ever in Kilkenny. Seán

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