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27 May 2020

Loughmore, Co. Tipperary

Sie of former alley photographed by R. Ryan, March 2020
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31 March 2020

Claregalway, Co. Galway

Claregalway, Co. Galway
First photograph is from the Fr. Browne Collection. Enitled Watching Handball and Retrieving lost balls_CLARE GALWAY, GALWAY, IRELAND;01/01/1925 it was kindly provided by David Davison.

Second photograph from Nuacht Clair Text of newspaper article below.
Last photograph provided by Neil Mc Dermott, remainder by E. Timoney in July 2009

Claregalway Handball Alley was demolished on Friday 3rd September last [3.9.2010] as part of the works being carried out by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to help reduce the chances of further flooding of the N17 and Claregalway as was experienced last November.

The Alley was demolished to make way for a further eye to be added to Claregalway bridge. Co-incidentally, the previous alley was knocked down in the 1950′s when the Council were building the current bridge. The alley was then rebuilt to its current location.

While this is a welcome move by the OPW to help allay further flooding of the river Clare, the Community has lost a valuable facility. The Claregalway Handball Club are in the process of making submissions to the OPW regarding some form of compensation, which might allow them to construct a new handball facility.

The Alley was one of the few 60×30 facilities in the county which was available to handballers and was used for other sports such as hurling, football and raquetball

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Ferns, Co. Wexford

These photographs from the Father Browne Collection were kindly provide by David Davison.
They are numbered 2.4.7 and 2.4.8 respectively and are both entitled 'HANDBALL AGAINST CASTLE WALL. FERNS, WEXFORD, IRELAND;01/05/1930'.
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Foxford, Co.Mayo

Foxford, Co.Mayo
First photograph from the Father Browne Collection, entitled 'HANDBALL ALLEY. FOXFORD, MAYO, IRELAND ; 20/06/1938', and kindly provided by David Davison
Second photograph provided by Neil Mc Dermott
Additional photographs provided by I.Nolan and M.Conney in Aug 2008.
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Naomh Fionnbarra GAA grounds, Cabra

A Handball Alley was situated on what is now the grounds of Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club in Cabra.

Photographed April 09 by E. Timoney

The historical photograph was kindly provided to E. Timoney by Martin Sneyd. It dates from the mid 1950s and shows part of the handball alley in the backgound of the high jump competition taking place.

The following information on handball in Cabra obtained from the local Cabra Historical Group, [by E. Timoney]

Handball has been played in Cabra since at least the arrival of the Christian Brothers in the last century, when they opened the school for deaf boys, St. Joseph’s, and erected a long single-walled ball alley in the playground there, on which three matches could be played simultaneously, thus bringing twelve boys into action at the same time.

Handball was very popular with both Brothers and boys alike in those old days, outsiders often coming in from the surrounding district for a game with enthusiasts like Brothers Dalton and Johnston and their contemporaries, several of whom were notable exponents.

Famous players also came in from different parts of the city to engage in exhibitions for the entertainment of the Brothers and the boys; in one such exhibition played in the 1920’s four of Ireland’s leading professionals took part – J.J. Kelly, Andy Durkin, Jack Bray and Jas. Clarke “of the Boot”.

Jim Clarke (Prussia Street) and his sons John, Jim, Austin and Frank, played there, the first named in the 1920’s and the others subsequently. The latter organized tournaments there in the 1920’s for youths from the Aughrim Street parish, noted at that period for its number of handballers, P.J.O’Neill, Con Healy, M.Reid, J.W. and C. Clarke being amongst those still remembered as taking part.
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Milltown, Co. Galway

Milltown, Co. Galway.
Photographed by E. Timoney in March 2020. Older photograph (bottom) by Neil Mc Dermot
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Bury Bridge, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Location and Infomration on two demolished alleys gathered by e. Timoney, March 2020

The alleys were built in the 1950s but demolished in the 1980s.
From John Doyle, Enda Timoney learned where the alley site was located and about local Tyrrell Brothers who were good players. Staff at the local History  Centre ere equally helpful but knew of no photographs of the old alleys. They spotted Francie Tyrrell cycling past and stopped him. Francie (Christy) told Enda Timoney that his brothers (RIP) were also very good and Frankie was the best. Tony Geraghty was also good. As young boys they used to play at the back of the stores in the town where they would get into trouble and the lads would be looking out for the guards coming. They were involved with St. Mary’s Young Mens Assoc.
Locals decided to build an alley and the local council provided the site. Handball was very popular especially on a Sunday. As Francie said “there was nothing else to do”. They used to play for money to make it interesting. He said the walls were separating and becoming dangerous and they were demolished.
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Ball Alley Lane, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Location of long-demolished alley photographed by E. Timoney, March 2020

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Killeigh, Co. Offaly

Killeigh, Co. Offaly
Photographed by T.J. Ryan, May 2009, and by E. Timoney in March 2020
Last photograph and following text from NIAH®no=14813010
1900 - 1940
Handball alley, built c.1920, with rendered and concrete walls. Concrete slabs to floor. Shamrock detail incised into north wall.

This handball alley, located in the centre of the village green, is a focal point of Killeigh. Handball alleys are representative of Ireland's social history. During Ireland's emergence as an independent nation, the sport increased in popularity. From the late nineteenth century onwards, courts were erected in many villages and towns, creating centres of communal recreation. During the latter part of the twentieth century handball alleys' appeal waned with the result that many alleys have since fallen into disrepair due to disuse and neglect.

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Walsh Island, Co. Offaly

Walsh Island, Co. Offaly
Photographed by E. Timoney, July 2009, A.Ryan August 2009 and again by E. Timoney in March 2020 (top photogrpahs). Information below from Walshisland GAA Club website
This alley was renovated in 2015, in connection with the construction of a large wind farm nearby.

The history of the Ball Alley in Walsh-Island commenced on the completion of the structure in 1913. Hand ball became a very popular sport in the following years and produced some great players from the area who won many medals and trophies namely Paudge Duffy, Sean McCann, George Whittle. Kenneth Whittle, Eric Whittle, Bill Bryan, Sean O'Shea, Dickie Shaughnessy, Pat Corcoran and Tom McCann. Those men won the prizes but a lot more took part in the sport and on Sunday mornings after Mass there was a race to the Alley to place your 3d on the wall for a game and it was first come first served. So popular was the sport that most Sunday's men waited up to three hours to play a game. All this came to an end when the Ball Alley went into disrepair in the mid sixties.

Some of the other events that took place there over the years were meetings, boxing competitions and many other festivities. The first big event was the training of the old I.R A. during the war of Independence and this landmark would hold deep affection for many of the relations who still live Walsh-Island and surrounding areas. In the boxing competition we were honoured to have the late Ned Mooney who was at the time the Irish Guard Champion in the British forces and who gave great enjoyment to all who watched him box. He never lost a match in the Ball Alley. May pole dancing was also another annual event and attracted large crowds every year. The biggest event that took place at the Alley was the homecoming of the local giant of a man Jack Berry after having spent a month in jail for breaking the law of not removing his animals and implements of land commissioned, land in which he was in dispute with over the breaking up of an adjoining estate. Jack was cousin of the late Colonel Eamon 'Ned' Broy who played such a major part in our war of Independence. Such was Jack Berry's strength that he was often seen walking the Pike Road with a trunk of a tree under each arm to be used for firewood.

In his seventies he could be seen riding his white stallion bare back through the streets of Portarlington. He was held in such high esteem in the area that his homecoming was the biggest event to be held in Walsh-Island. Local people collected loads of turf, sticks and tyres for a bonfire at the Alley. He was carried shoulder high from the forge and the young people at the time lined up each side of the road with lit sods of turf which had been dipped in oil. The bonfire was lit and the festivities began with local musicians and dancers taking part in the all night entertainment.

Another big event took place on May 4th 1935 when the All Ireland Turf cutting competition was held in Monevane. Men from the four corners of Ireland took part in this event and the Toisceasch of the day Eamon Dev Alera cut the first sod. The main idea behind the turf cutting competition was to show Dev the vast amount of two of our natural resources namely peat and manpower. Fr Breen P.P. and Patrick Gormon came up with this idea, and after the turf cutting finished they took Dev to the Ball Alley so he could see the vast area of peat that surrounded Walsh-Island. He told the two men their idea could become a reality and he would have it discussed at cabinet level when he returned to Dublin. Within three years this did indeed become a reality and is known today as Bord Na Mona !

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Daingean Reform School

Profile of pair of side by side alleys visible in background to right of main building (top photo) and behind boundary wall (other phoots). Photographs by E. Timoney in March 2020

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