20 August 2008

St. Finnian's College, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath




St. Finnian's College, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath
Photograph and text from http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=record&county=WM®no=15309015
1905 - 1915
Four handball alleys, erected c.1910. Built in pairs and in a back-to-back arrangement. Smooth cement rendered walls. Located to the southwest of St. Finian's College, in shared grounds. Located to the north of Mullingar.

An unusually large group of handball alleys associated with St. Finian's College (15309012). They represent the importance attached to Irish sport and the Irish national identity within the teachings of Roman Catholic Church at the time of construction.

Comment submitted to blog
I'm a former student of St Finian's (grad in 2004) and these alleys in their latter years were often used to play a variation of handball using a football where the ball would be kicked instead of fisted. Excellent game when played as a multiplayer swarm, but it's indeed a shame that the alleys were never used for their true purpose, especially when there were four alleys available for use.

4 comments:

Gav said...

I'm a former student of St Finian's (grad in 2004) and these alleys in their latter years were often used to play a variation of handball using a football where the ball would be kicked instead of fisted. Excellent game when played as a multiplayer swarm, but it's indeed a shame that the alleys were never used for their true purpose, especially when there were four alleys available for use.

Anonymous said...

There was one in the Carmelite College in Moate, not sure if it's still extant.

Anthony Shiels said...

In the Early 1970's, when I was a Student in St. Finians, these Alleys were used for Handball.

First Year Students (who were not up to Scratch) played "In Alley" handball. In this Game, Players lined up along one Side Wall of any of the Alleys. The Person nearest to the Back Wall was "In" & was playing against the person next in the Queue. The Ball was sent ALONG THE BACK WALL rather than against it, & when a Person became "Out" by missing the Ball, he went back to the end of the Queue at the front of the Alley.

The Senior or Experienced Students, who played "Normal" Handball, tolerated the First Years as they never interfered with the Seniors Games, hence the Queue along the Side Wall. Their Balls made contact way above the Junior's Heads so they were completely Safe unless a Senior was offended by a Junior Player.

But ther were other WAYS to settle things in those Instances.

"Behind the Alley" is sheltered from the View from the Main College Building - in particular, from the Views of the Dean's or President's Rooms. Because of this, it was often the Scene for sorting out disputes among Students. This Practice began to peter out after 1971, when the Seniors that liked this method of Dispute Resolution left through Natural Wastage!

These Alleys were located beside a Laneway that lead from the College Farm to the College Grounds. Because the College is sited on the Side of a Hil, there was a LEVEL CHANGE between this Roadway & the Alley Floors. In my Senoir years, the Embankment that lead from the Roadway to the Alleys was used for FOOTBALL CHANT PRACTICE. The Cheerleader / Conductor took up position on the Alley Floor & the Students asembled on the Sloped Embankment.

Michael O'Dwyer said...

Handball is the only sport I was ever any good at; and that's not saying much! I spent many a happy school break, playing with my friends, at Garbally College in Ballinasloe.
I live in Scotland, now. Whenever I've been back in Ireland, I've noticed that most handball alleys are not being used much. Nice to see that some people are still playing.
Mike O'Dwyer