independent

Thursday 20 June 2019

Sam Maguire was a key figure in the London Irish circle

Sam Maguire - The Man And The Cup
Sam Maguire - The Man And The Cup

Book review - Alan Aherne

I spend a lot of time on the road, and this has led to a habit of associating the towns and villages I pass through with sporting personalities from the locality.

I happened to be in Dunmanway prior to Christmas, and automatically my thoughts turned to Sam Maguire and the major influence he exerted on the G.A.A. from far afield during a turbulent period in this country's history.

The man after whom the All-Ireland Senior football championship trophy is named hailed from the west Cork town, but he will always be more readily associated with London both in the sporting and political spheres.

And anyone in search of additional information on this prominent figure should pick up a copy of 'Sam Maguire - The Man And The Cup', written by Dublin-based historian Kieran Connolly who was also born and bred in Dunmanway so can offer a particularly keen local insight.

The book is broken down into two broad sections and would be particularly useful for students undertaking a project relating to Maguire himself or the general history of the G.A.A. in its earliest years.

First of all Connolly deals with the life and times of the man who was born in 1877 and died from tuberculosis at the relatively young age of 49 in February of 1927.

However, he packed a lot of activity into his near half-century of life on this planet, and his association with such a prominent piece of silverware ensures that his name will never be forgotten.

After explaining the origins of the cup and the thinking behind honouring Maguire in such a fitting manner, the second part of the book deals chronologically with the history of the All-Ireland Senior football championship since Willie Gannon of Kildare became the first triumphant captain in 1928.

Interestingly, the two most well-known trophies in the G.A.A. are both named after former Chairmen of the London County Board, as Liam MacCarthy was also a leading figure in the association in the English capital.

As for Maguire, he was one of seven children from a Church of Ireland family from the townland of Mallabracka, and they farmed 200 acres as tenants of Robert Ellis on the Shouldham estate.

Given the fact that the G.A.A. wouldn't have formed a strong part of his community's cultural outlook, it is reasonable to assume - as the author does - that his passion for the games flourished while a pupil at a school run by Michael Madden in nearby Ardfield.

Maguire went to work in the post office in London in 1897, and played in his first All-Ireland football final five years later in the delayed decider of 1900.

They had a very strong team for most of that decade, and Maguire was one of the leading players.

However, his more significant involvement was as a political activist, playing a crucial role in the struggle for independence.

He was regarded as the 'main man' in the Irish Republican Brotherhood in London, so much so that he was the chief agent of Michael Collins in the city.

This book on his life and times is an untaxing read and may be completed with ease in just a couple of sittings.

It provides a key historical context and serves as a helpful compilation on a man whose influence on this country's sporting and political life was immense.

Visit The Book Centre on Wexford's Main Street for the very best selection of sports books.

Wexford People

Most Read

News