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The champs behind the wire

Fr Tomás Ó Luanaigh: lecture
Fr Tomás Ó Luanaigh: lecture

THE fascinating story behind Kerry’s historic All-Ireland final victory in Wales in 1916 is to be recalled, in great detail, in a public lecture to be delivered by the Parish Priest of Fossa and passionate GAA historian Fr Tomás Ó Luanaigh.

Five Killarney footballers helped Kerry defeat Louth in the 1916 tournament final, behind barbed wire, in the prisoner-of-war camp in Wales.

The Wolf Tone tournament final was played in Frongoch Prison in Snowdonia following the Easter Rising.

Fr Ó Luanaigh’s lecture, Frongoch Camp, Wales and Kerry’s 54 POWs 1916, will be delivered in Killarney Library on Tuesday, September 13 at 7.30pm. The free event will be hosted by the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society and all are welcome.

The 1916 Kerry team, captained by the legendary Dick Fitzgerald of College Street, included Pat O’Shea of New Lane and Mick Spillane, Boherchaol, together with MJ O’Sullivan and Willie Horgan, both of New Street.

Dick Fitzgerald and others in the Killarney Division were arrested in May 1916 and they were first held at the Great Southern Railway Hotel, where the military had set up headquarters.

Dick Fitzgerald: GAA legend
Dick Fitzgerald: GAA legend

From there the men were moved to Victoria Barracks in Cork and, subsequently, to Richmond Barracks, Dublin before being transported to England. They were held at Knightsford Prison in Cheshire before finally being interned at Frongoch,

Within the confines of the camp, Gaelic games played a role in establishing a structure and routine and the prisoners felt able to retain their Irish identity while under the control of British authorities.

Fitzgerald excelled in this area and was a strong leadership presence at the games.

Fr Ó Luanaigh is the author of an acclaimed biography on the life and times of Fitzgerald, King in a Kingdom of Kings.

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