31 March 2020

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. (Incidentally, the 4th child from left in front row has been identified as Mickey Whelan, former manager of the Dublin football team)

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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