19 August 2019

Event: on Handball Alleys in the Lough Derg region

A talk and display on the history and lore of the numerous handball alleys dotted around Lough Derg. Please bring your stories and photos to enhance the evening.
The pastime of handball has a strong tradition in this region, this event hopes to help preserve that tradition.
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Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

This is the summary

Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal
This alley was 're-opened' in 2014.

It was visited and photographed by E. Timoney in Aug 2019. Earlier photographs (final 2 phtographs) shown on this website date from 2009 and were taken by C. Timoney in May 2009. The B+W photograph is from the book '100 Years of Handball, Handball, Dongeal and the World', by Pat Holland, published by Voice Books in 2004

Following text from http://www.geocities.com/johngall_99/ballyshannon4050_1.html

The Handball Alley was one of the busiest sports arenas in the town, some of the people who frequented the Alley at that time were Jimmy Rogan, Francie “Titsie” Daly, Dutchie Darcy, Sylvester Maguire Snr., Johnnie Moore, Willie Daly, Dermott Lapsley, Tom, Packie and Francie Gallagher, Jody, Patsy, Eddie and Charlie Rooney, Jim and John Askin, Frankie and Jim Kerrigan, Maurice Murray, Dennis Patton, Mickey Gillen, Jim White, Dan and Benny Dorrian, John, Paddy and Cormac Mc Cready, Thomas Duffy, Jimmy Rooney, Jimmy Coyle, Michael Donagher, Michael White, John, Seamus and Patrick Coyle, Mickey Keenan, Michael Mc Govern, Michael Gallagher, Paddy and Kevin Begley, P.J. Coughlin, Paddy Donagher, Blackie Coyle, Paddy and Alo Hoey, Willie and John Mc Allister, Brendan Farrelly, Sean Mc Dermott, Roger and James Mc Ginley, Francis Smith, Danny, Jack and Jim Downey, Seamie Granaghan, Seamus Darcy, Fergal Gildea, Dennis Lawn. With the help of Francie Gallagher, those listed above are the names that come to mind. The older fellows always took control of the big alley while the younger lads used the side alley, during the summer’s the alley would be packed, it was always a pleasure to sit and watch a good game of handball. Someone who was known to all at that time blew a hole in the Alley in 1957, regardless of this person’s treachery the damage was repaired immediately.
The Handball alley was also a popular venue for Open Air Ceili’s on the odd Sunday evenings during the summers; Cyril Curran and his Assaroe Ceili Band usually provided the music, this was a very popular event for young and old.

Handball Alley Shadowmen, poem by Michael Herron

Ideal companions for comely,crossroads maidens
the Sunday handballers were dancelords
in billowing white shirts and best suit trousers,
watched by older heroes in peaked caps
from behind a knowledge cloud
of Sweet Afton and Woodbine.
Great parochial tournaments mythologising
ordinary men, even the occasional cornerboy,
Celtic gladiators in a concrete arena.
Hard earned appreciation of oldened players,
applauding quietly the clever use of angle and wall.
Hand in,hand out,hand in,hand out,
and savage laughter at a misjudged bounce,
an unanswerable butt greeted by a knowing wink.

How safe we were back then,
mere boys surrounded by a casual posse of Raleighs,
jumbled on the grassbank,
waiting our chance to shine in a Sunday game.
Sitting recently on the crumbling steps,
at the back of the alley,
I found another constant broken,
the front wall scarred by a lightning crack,
the drift of litter and leaves from corner to corner
the only movement now in this forgotten Ulster colosseum.

All the old players scattered,
leaving only handball alley shadowmen.

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25 June 2019

Legan, Co. Longford

Photographed by E. Timoney, June 2019
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Killeen, Co. Longford

Photographed by E. Timoney, June 2019, who was informed about the alley by D. Reilly.

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Derrynoose, Co. Armagh

E. Timoney learned about this pair of back-to-back alley from R. Mc Sharry and C. Savage. The land owner G. Renaghan explained that there were lead mines in this area and that the alleys were probably built as part of the mining complex. Photographed by E. Timoney, June 2019
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Poyntzpass, Co. Armagh

E. Timoney took these photos in June 2019, and with the help of R. Mc Sharry, C.Savage and H. Gamblein learned the following information: the alley is at the back of the former Courthouse. The date of 1943 above the entrance is likely to be the date of renovations made, as the alley seems much older. There is an unusual turn in the right hand side wall towards the back of the alley, which players used to their advantage.
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Tullycanna, Co. Wexford

This alley was brought to our attention by K. Murphy (Ballymitty). Handball was played against this gable: the top right hand corner of the wall was built up to extend the play-wall surface. The window was always there, even when handball was played here. Photographed by E. Timoney, June 2019 Read More......

15 June 2019

Carlow College ( formerly St. Patrick's college), Co. Carlow

Photograph included here with permission of Carlow College Archivist. The handball alleys visible in left hand foreground of main building were most likely demolished sometime between 2000-2006. A new structure now stands at this location. The buildings around the handball alleys were the college’s farm buildings.
There are a couple of references to handball in the collage archival material: One note says that the first mention of a ball court is an entry in the accounts on 8 December 1797 for expenses connected with a ball alley. Between 1820-1822 new ball courts and a gateway between them were erected at a cost of £157.15.4. The gateway would have been that into the farm buildings. These would be the courts demolished in the early 2000s. The boys attending the college subscribed £8 towards the cost. Another note makes reference to junior and senior handball leagues in operation in the college. The game died out during World War II and the years following due to a shortage of balls but there was a revival circa 1949-1950 and leagues were again organised.
This information was helpfully provided by the college archivist B. Deasy to E. Timoney in Nov 2018,
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Foxford, Co.Mayo

Photograph provided by T. O'Malley, Jan 2019 Read More......

St. Conals Hospital, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal (demolished)

Photographs – by E. Timoney, Feb 2009 – show location of former alley against gable wall. B. Vaughan confirmed that the side walls were knocked down in 1990. The former positions of these walls is visible in the photographs.
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