Club Milestones- 1828 hurling Championship

1828 South East Hurling Championship

South East Hurling

Ballygarvan, Douglas, Ringaskiddy, Seamount, Tracton and Carrigaline were the contestants in the 1828 championship campaign. There may have been some others who were eliminated in the earlier rounds, but the main contenders for the honours wer drawn from this contingent. We glean this from the ballads, " The Carrigaline Goalers defeated" and "The Victorious Goalers of Carrigaline and Kilmoney". We are indebted to the renowned historian Diarmuid O' Murchadha, Crosshaven for unearthing and penning the following material contained in an article in the Cork Holy Bough 1954.


by Diarmuid O'Murchadha Despite the oppression, rack renting and incredible poverty of the early years of the nineteenth century, rural life in Ireland then had its own compensations. For as yet the grim shadows of the Great Famine, wholesale clearances and emigration, had not fallen across the country and even the poorest in the land could, when opportunity offered laugh and dance, play and make merry with a carefree abandon unknown in our sophisticated days. The population was increasing by leaps and bounds. Everywhere there were children who, according to Wakefield "as soon as they are able to follow each other, run about in bands of a dozen or more with balls and hurls, eagerly contending for victory". Which brings us to our subject. The national pastime of hurling was always well to the fore in the district between Cork Harbour and Kinsale, known in modern G.A.A. parlance as "South-East Cork." In the year 1819 we find the (Protestant) curate of the parish of Tracton, Rev. William Alleyn Evanson. A.B. remarking somewhat censoriously:- "The mornings of Sabbaths and holy days are perhaps devoted to the public services of religion, but the afternoons are invariably consumed in discussions at the ale- house, accompanied by the bagpipe or the fiddle; or in the goaling-parties by the young men in the fields.". ("Goaling" was the term then used in use for hurling). It must have been soon after this that the law prohibiting hurling and such like sports on Sundays was introduced as both of the matches I am about to describe were played in week evenings. Such laws caused no loss of popularity to hurling. At the eastern end of the parish of Tracton, on top of a hill, now lonely and foresaken, an old man showed me a field called Pairch a'Bhaire ("The Goal-field"), where, so he had himself been told by an old woman, the crowds at the "goaling-matches" used to be so big that the children used to have to go in between the men's legs to see the play. Now in Crofton Crokers "Popular Songs of Ireland", published in 1839 there are two ballads of great interest to all lovers of this ancient game. They are entitled "The Victorious Goalers of Carrigaline and Kilmoney" and "The Carrigaline Goalers Defeated," and they commemorate two famous hurling matches played in December 1828 and April 1829, between teams corresponding to our modern Carrigaline, Shamrocks and Tracton, with Carrigaline defeating Shamrocks in the first round and being beaten by Tracton in the final. Nor were these wild cross-country parish against parish affairs, such as we sometimes read about, but well organised field games, with a fixed number of players on each side (about twenty in these contests). Also there was an appointed referee and a change of sides at half time. There were no goal- posts, a score was obtained by pucking the ball over the ditch or hedge at the side defended by the opposing team. In the matches under consideration, the pitch does not seem to have extended to the whole length of the field, as we are told (verse six of the first ballad) that the southern end was bounded by "mearings" or marking twigs, forerunners of our modern goal posts. "Cope's Field," where the contest took place, also known as Clashahope (Clais a'Chop), lies a few fields to the north-east of Carrigaline Castle. 

Here then is: The Victorious Goalers of Carrigaline and Kilmoney There's joy throughout the nation and great congratulation With wondrous acclamation from Liffey to the Lee Without exaggeration our goalers take their station For the highest approbation-they have won the victory; Twas in no combination or field association But in rural relaxation on the plains of Onnabuoy. 

There was Fionn, the chief of heroes, Who high the ball rose in play, Though long he's gone to repose and Will never play again; There's Don and Con the peerless, And Barry Og the fearless, Since whom we are left cheerless, Could they have seen our men, They'd join the acclamation and add their approbation With my congratulations to the boys of Onnabuoy.

Were Homer the narrator and Vigil a spectator, No praise could be greater than were due our gallant corps, For never did the Grecians no the Romans called Patricians, Exceed the stout Milesians that defeated Barrymore; 'Twas in no combination or field association, But in rural relaxation on the plains of Onnabuoy. 

All men will long remember the seventeenth of December, For good and bad each member came from far and near to see, Not a cabin had a soul in, all flocked to view the goaling And unremitted bowling of Kilmoney's chivalry; Undaunted sons of Beaver, no hearts were ever braver Upon your bounding wave or the plains of Onnabuoy.

Five times our men were turned by rivals whom they spurned, With shame their cheeks they burned but the ball was in the field; Then with redoubled spirit they showed their strength and merit That they did all inherit and made their foes to yield; While Barrymore they doubted ans Muskerry they shouted When both of them were routed on the plains of Onnabuoy. 

The south by mearings bounded, at first our boys confounded, Upon the wind they rounded then tried their utmost speed, Against both hill and weather they all bore on together And pucked the well-sewn leather, twas wonderful indeed; The north was then contested, on that their last hope rested, But soon they were downcrested on the plains of Onnabuoy. 

Two baronies of boasters, one district of our coasters, Have made look foolish toasters and their former fame undone; For lost is now the honour of their leader, Mister Conner, Whose mother has upon her all my pity for her son; In Cope's Field ends the story of their goaling and his glory, And he'll travel far before he will play by the Onnabuoy. 

Success to young O'Daly who led us on so gaily, He is our hero really, shout for Kilmoney's pride! And here is for his brothers and three times for all others, True sons of worthy mothers who were upon our side; Their names are here recorded, may they all be rewarded For never king nor lord did as much for Onnaboy. After him brave Landers, They behaved like great commanders and I'll aggrandise O'Toomey and Mulcahy, two Carties and Batt Fahy, O'Callaghan of Kahey and also Thomas Wise, O'Flinn with head like carrott, DeCogan, Jack and Garrett, And Jordan, Walsh and Barrett on the plains of Onnabuoy. The references to Barrymore and Muskerry in the third and fifth verses are rather inaccurate, as the places mentioned in the last verse (Shanbally, Coolmore, Ring etc.) are certainly neither in Barrymore, nor in Muskerry but in the same barony as Carrigaline and Kilmoney, namely Kerrycurrihy. "Mister Conner" or "Ballybricken's Rover", who, it may be noted,was the referee or umpire for the second contest, between Carrigalina and Tracton,was a member of a well known "County" family then living in Ballybricken House. They were related to the Conners of Manch, William Conner was a younger brother and became a lieutenant in the British Navy. He was lieutenant in the H.M.S. Bellerophon when Napoleon surrendered to Capt. Maitland. This information was given to Crofton Croker by a Mr. Crawford of Cork, who added the following note from Miss Conner, William's sister: "Goaling matches have always been frequent in this country and William has been umpire and sometimes goaler in many. The famous contests of the Onnabuoy (pronounced by the way, "Owenabwee") occurred in December 1828 and the second in April 1829." The most interesting part of the ballad is in my opinion, the listing of the players, so ingeniously arranged to fit the rhyme. We cannot but have a nostalgic fellow feeling for those stalwarts of olden days, most of whose names, inded, are no strangers to the "goal-fields" around Carrigaline today. We turn now to the second ballad, which records the downfall of the renowned goalers of Carrigaline. This ballad printed on broadsheet, was procured at Cork in 1829 where it was presumably , being sung to the air of "The Roving Journeyman." (The air of the first ballad is "Mourneen Gal mo- chree").

The Carrigaline Goalers Defeated For ages hold on recoed Kinalea with ecstasy The triumph of our goalers at the top of Boherbuoy, Be utterly defeating with the greatest bravery The goalers that were famed upon the banks of Onnabuoy. 

On the second day of April, to will comfortably The supple Tracton goalers put an end to all their spree With pucking round the ball did bound and activity Was never seen upon the green fields of Onnabuoy. 

As heroes gay were they each day sung through the country, And on the public papers named out of curiousity; Say will Kilmoney, my boys, now own ye, since ended in your glee, For you were beaten early and late on the plains of Onnabuoy. 

Whatever self-persuasion is of gaining victory, Then fortune never favours it in high or low degree; Ballygarvan, Douglas, Ring and Seamount had to see How Kinalea could clear the way on the plains of Onnabuoy. 

A fortune-teller came by chance and said repeatedly That Tracton's skill on plain or hill was as eight to thirtythree; But in spite of all his fairy call and necromanacey, He was too bold in what he told on the plains of Onnbuoy. 

A gentleman descended from kings of high degree A honey-scentedblossom and a sprig of purity; A stately tree that day was he, the pride of his country, Long may he flourish and Erin nourish such saplings by the Onnabuoy.

He cleared the field and justice shewed to all impartially And there he stood, eye-witness good to decide the victory; Long may his line resplendent shine to all conspicuously, And long a creek in stand Ballybricken by the plains of the Onnabuoy.

I could not name the half that came that day the game to see, From far and near, when they did hear that such a sight would be; And never gave spectators brave their shouts more lustily than when the pride that did deride was vanquished by the Owenabuoy. The poet small who challenged all from Liffey to the Lee, His honest trade I'll not upbraid but tis not prophecy; The empty praise which he did raise is now bitter irony, And his vain song is sorrow strong to the boys of Onnabuoy. The boasting ass, I let him pass, nor strive in rivalry, Dull and unsonorous his verse and small his poetry; I want no fame from where I came, nor claim (deservedly) The title rare of poet fair for the muse of Carberry.

Your ear now lend to make an end without vaunt or vanity, As Autumn gives her quivering leaves to earth devotedly; So Kinlea hath won the day all men of decency Will me will see and will agree on the plains of Onnabuoy. "Boherbuoy" in the first verse (Bothar buí) was the name used by Irish speakers for Carrigaline village. The "fortune teller" in the fifth verse was probably a hopeful bookmaker offering odds of eight to thirty three against Tracton. The complimentary references to "the great O'Connor" in the 7th verse are reminiscent of an old Irish bardic praise-poetry, and it is quite likely that the writer was a minor Gaelic poet who had taken to writing doggerel verse in English, which was becoming popular at the time. In 1829 at least three-fourths of the popuation of the district were Irish speakers, and Irish verse was being composed there as late as 1850. And while our native tongue has temporarily we hope, fallen into disuse in these parts, we still have "goalers' in plenty in our midst, maing Sunday evenings resound to the well beloved clash of the ash "upon the banks of Onnabuoy".