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The first "Killoveragh GAA" Officers - 1889

posted 7 Nov 2014, 13:14 by Garret Byrne
We've had great men and women (well done Lisa Kelly (now Kilkelly) and Teresa Kavanagh!) down though the years, but back 125 years ago, the Gaels of Kinvara parish elected four men to lead us forward for this very first time. Back then, these men would have been relatively young compared to nowadays, with the four officers in 1889 in their 20's or early 30's. Politics, especially the Land question, was a major issue back then, and all four officers would have been very nationalistic and passionate of the Gaelic culture.
From what we know, 3 of the 4 men never married and devoted much of their time to the GAA and other Irish cultural, policitical and nationalistic causes.

Here is what we know of the first 4 officer officers of the Killoveragh GAA Club. Please feel free to comment or correct as you see fit.

1889 Club Secretary - James Kilkelly, Kinvara
This gentleman shopkeeper of Straid na Phuca was diligent in his work. His expertise with the pen and paper (no emails back then!) made him stand out amongst his peers. He was remembered as a great Gael who served his community well. He had a newsagents and merchant's shop in Main Street, Kinvara (the first in Kinvara to sell the Connacht Tribune), and was a "good and true Irishman", who was "one of the most cheery and lovable personalities" in Kinvara.  He was passionate about the Irish language and culture, and could name Douglas Hyde, Ireland's first President, as one of his friends.  In fact, when Douglas Hyde became Ireland's first President in 1938, James was among those who were invited to the first ever tea-party at Aras an Uachtarain.  He was a reknowned set dancer who could out last the generations younger than him. When he passed way in 1940 at the age of 77, he left behind two sisters (Michael never married) - one named Mary, while the other, Sr. Ursula, was a nun in Banagher. I'm, sure many of the olden folk will remember going in to his shop. 

1889 Club Treasurer - Michael Huban, Doorus.
The Knocknacullen man kept an eye on our club's finances in the early days. Michael was another bachelor and gave a lot of his time towards local issues, including the GAA and the United Irish League. Michael also had an interest in the horses, and was a steward at the 1909 Kinvara-Doorus Races held at the Newtownlynch course. He was known as a tough and shrewd operator, very much so like his grand-nephew Padraic Huban, who manned the corner back position on Kinvara's first County Junior Champions in 1959! I have no doubt that this Michael Huban is a relation to the other clan of Hubans down there, who also served (and serve) the club so well, both on the pitch and off it. Indeed, the officership of Treasurer has often had the name of Huban on the door, with both John and PK both serving ten years between them as club treasurer in the 80's and 90's. 

1889 Club Vice President - Michael O'Donohue, Kinvara
A great Gael, Michael lived in Kinvara village where he ran his business and GAA affairs. In fact, he is the first of many links that our club has to the building known as House 93 in the census list. That same premises is today known as Tullys, but back then it was O'Donohue's!  The link to the building was re-ignited in 1960 when the land for our pitch was purchased off old Michael Tully, and yet again in recent years when we purchased 5 acres for a new second pitch. But back to Michael O'Donohue - he was in fact a leading GAA activist not only in Kinvara but in Galway. He was our first member to become an officer of the County Board when he served as Chairman in 1910 and 1911 (a feat not repeated until Joe Byrne served from 2010-2014).  An interesting fact is that there is a lovely celtic cross headstone in Mountcross graveyard erected in his honour at his grave. How much he was loved can be seen if one read its inscription "Erected by the Gaels of South Galway, in loving memory of their dear departed President, Michael O'Donohoe Esq. " Michael passed away in 1912 at the age of 45. By the way he was also a County Councillor, and also a leader in the local Land League, and Justice of the Peace. 
A local newspaper reported about him in 1907 - "Mr. Donohue is the means of having a team in Kinvara and since that team was affiliated they have done well of themselves having been beaten by none but the very best and that by a small margin. I hope Kinvara will be stronger next year and make a high run in the County Championship."

1889 Club President - John Curtin, Doorus
John was obviously held in high esteem by all in the parish as to be Club President was the equivalent of Club Chairman at the time. He would have been a great mediator and man of reason, as his role would have been to unite all young men of the parish - from Kinvara, Doorus, Killina and Northampton. 
Little else is known of John Curtin. His name does not appear in relation to both Kinvara GAA and Kinvara-Doorus news in general (after an extensive of old Connacht Tribune archives from the late 19th century onwards)). Although the Curtin name is closely and strongly linked to Kinvara GAA, we are not sure how he may be related to them. A search of the 1901 and 1911 census gives us no clue as no such name appears in Doorus back then. There is however a John Curtin in Aughinish but, again, we are not sure if this is the same person. There is a finders fee if anyone can shed some light on this!