ROUND TOWERS LOOKING BACK

by ehistoryadmin on September 16, 2017

Leinster Leader 18 August 1984

ROUND TOWERS LOOKING BACK

Vicki Weller

Twenty-four years seems like a long time to wait for the replay of a football match, especially when the teams contain largely the same members.  However, those who went along to Carbury on Saturday were hardly there to see what the score would be.  This particular replay, between Carbury and Round Towers, Kildare, was purely for fun, and moreover, the sheer nostalgia of remembering back to 1960 when the two sides met in the Co. Final.

The match was, of course, part of the GAA Centenary celebrations and was held on the same date as the dinner dance in Hotel Keadeen, Newbridge, which saw the reunion of many Round Tower players who formed teams not merely as far back as 1960 but even further, with some who can recall what it was like to take to the field for your team and your county during the 1920’s.

A special Reunion Committee of Round Towers, formed to organise the centenary celebrations, has been busy in the last few months ensuring that nobody got left out when it came to tracing those who once made their mark for the side.  The chairman of the committee, Jim Mackey, commented that the history of the club had been closely examined, with some interesting facts emerging.  He explained that although there was an athletic club in Kildare town from 1884, the football club proper, originally known as “The Sons of St. Brigid” was actually formed in 1886.

In relation to early matches played by the side, Jim and his colleagues Mick Leavy (Treasurer), Frank O’Connor and Willie Fitzpatrick (Joint Secs.), had evidently been checking their facts.  They knew, for example, that in 1886, the Co. semi-final and final were played on the same day, in Floods Field, Kildare.

In the final, Kildare met the “Blounts” – predecessors of Ellistown, and the score was 2-1 for the Blounts.  The Kildare side which became known as Round Towers in 1917, took the Junior Co. Championship in 1911 and, in 1927, had a number of members on the team which won the All-Ireland Senior Championship.

Easily the favourite piece of history, however, relates to the fact, rarely forgotten among the older GAA enthusiast in the locality, that Kildare was the first town to which the Sam Maguire Cup was brought after an All-Ireland victory, in 1928.  A Round Towers player, “Squires” Gannon, captained the county team on that occasion, the first on which the Sam Maguire was competed for.

The story which has been floating around ever since then was that “Squires”, having stepped off the train from Dublin with his Round Towers team-mates, temporarily abandoned the cup and went to work for the Moore family in Tully – milking the cows before returning for the celebrations.

According to the members of the Reunion Committee, there was “no band, or anything like that” to greet the homecoming victors.  Frank O’Connor added that it was particularly sad to reflect on this as, since 1928, “Kildare has only got a glimpse of the Sam Maguire, on its way to Kerry!”

Round Towers were also winners of the Junior Co. Championship in 1921, but things seemed to deteriorate for a period after that.  In 1932, the side amalgamated with Rathangan and was known for some years as St. Patrick’s, before reverting to “Round Towers” in 1954.  “That must have brought back good luck”, said Jim Mackey, adding that the side won the senior Co. Championship that year.  In all, Round Towers contested 15 Co. Finals, of which 7 resulted in victory for the Kildare team, the last of these in 1963.

Although being superseded in more recent times by other teams throughout the county, there is no doubt that in those early years Round Towers experienced success which merits a high place in the history of the GAA in Co. Kildare.  The Reunion Committee members pointed out that a total of 6 Round Towers players were on that 1928 All-Ireland winning team, while in 1956, the last time Kildare won a Leinster Senior Championship Final, one third of the team came from the Kildare town club.  There were some other facts, too, such as the introduction in the early years of the first insurance scheme for injured players, by Kildare man Michael Jones, later to be adopted by other clubs.

In raking up “old photos and old memories”, the Reunion Committee came across a good deal of valuable information and, Jim explained, there was at one stage a suggestion that the history of the club might be written, but this had not materialised as yet.

Among those invited to the reunion dinner were Martin Byrne of Rowanville, aged 94, who is father of Mickey, Seamus and Aiden – all distinguished county players; Charlie Graham, Grey Abbey, a member of the team which brought home so many awards to Kildare in the 1920’s, while Chrissie Daly’s of Rowanville, now in her eighties, grandfather played for the side back in 1888 and her father was a member of that 1911 Junior Championship winning team.

Over the years, Jim remarked, the team has owed a particular debt to the local De La Salle Brothers and the teachers at the school who were so frequently involved in the game locally.  He noted that this was an especially appropriate word of thanks as the De La Salle Order in Kildare who, like the GAA, are this year celebrating their centenary.

A special function for underage players is planned for a later date.

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