Launch of Forging a Kingdom - The GAA in Kerry 1884-1934

November 1st, 2013
by Collins Press

Richard McElligott readily admits that he decided to chronicle the early history of the GAA in Kerry to compensate for being the worst underage hurler and footballer ever seen in north Kerry. The result is Forging a Kingdom – The GAA in Kerry 1884–1934, which was recently published by The Collins Press (€17.99) and will be launched in both Dublin and Kerry.

Jimmy Deenihan TD will do the honours in Wynn's Hotel, Dublin 1, on Thursday 7 November with the Kerry launch taking place in Tralee Library on Thursday 14 November with Radio Kerry broadcaster Weeshie Fogarty as MC and former Kerry County Board chairman Sean Walsh as guest speaker.

Mr McElligott, who completed his PhD on the early history of the GAA with the School of History and Archives in UCD, is chairman of the Sports History Ireland Society. He said, 'County identity is fundamental in the GAA. By 1934 Kerry was one of the bastions of the Association. I am passionate about the GAA and I wanted to chart the development of the GAA in Kerry and how it became the county's most popular sporting organisation. It was important to outline the links with cultural and revolutionary movements, the role of the county's GAA in the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and Civil War, and the effects of political violence on the Kerry GAA.'

Civil War atrocities at Knocknagoshel, Cahirciveen and Ballyseedy involved players from both sides of the conflict. After the Civil War the senior Kerry side emerged politically divided yet united in play. That team arguably became the most successful in GAA history, winning six All-Ireland titles between 1924 and 1932. They became the symbol of unity Irish society craved in the aftermath of civil war.

Some of the first clubs established included Laune Rangers, Dr. Crokes, Tralee Mitchels and Kenmare; hurling featured largely in Kenmare and North Kerry; mass brawls were a regular occurrence; Ballyduff representing Kerry won the 1891 hurling All-Ireland. Names like Stack, Ashe, Brosnan, O'Sullivan, Fitzgerald and Sheehy pepper this history.

Kerry remained a political hotbed of Republicanism after the Civil War and this continually manifested itself among the GAA hierarchy. Despite this, by 1934 Kerry's unique tradition within the GAA had been forged. With a wealth of fresh research, previously unpublished documents and images, this is an absorbing insight into the world of the GAA in Kerry from its origins in pre-independence Ireland.

Forging a Kingdom – The GAA in Kerry 1884–1934 by Richard McElligott is published by The Collins Press (price €17.99). It is available in all good bookshops and online from

Dublin launch: Thursday 7 November 2013 at 6.00 p.m. in Wynn's Hotel, 39 Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1. Jimmy Deenihan TD will do the honours.

Kerry launch: Thursday 14 November 2013 at 7.00 p.m. in Tralee Library, Moyderwell, Tralee, County Kerry. Radio Kerry broadcaster Weeshie Fogarty will launch the book with Sean Walsh, Munster GAA and former Chairman of the Kerry County Board, as guest speaker.

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom