Formation of GAA in Newry.
From the formation of the G.A.A. in 1884 many clubs were formed in Newry up until the 1900s. The first football club was called Robert Emmets then Sarsfields. Mitchels Faugh-a-Ballagh, and Clann Uladh. The Emmets played the first game with Dundalk Michael Dwyer on the 4th February 1887.
The Emmets had their clubrooms in St. Mary Street in the town and indeed on many occasions they had their clubrooms raided by R.I.C. and the man in charge of the R.I.C. at the time was called Head Williams. The Newry Reporter carries a story of one of the raids in 1888 and all they found was a pair of long johns. The Emmets club finished in and around 1900, and that left the Faughs the larger of the two clubs that were left in the town, Mitchels and the Faughs.
Then in 1904 the Clann Uladh club was formed as a hurling and a camogie club. The Frontier Sentinel in 1905 that the Clann Uladh teams that were to go to Camlough to play camogie and hurling games. The committee of the Newry Gaelic Society had not arranged enough transport for the players so the camogie girls took to their bicycles from their clubrooms in Catherine St. by the year 1910 the Clann Uladh club had a football team. By 1920 the Mitchels and Clann Uladh clubs had gone because of the war in Europe and the troubles at home in Ireland with the Easter Rising.
The Faughs continued ‘til the 1930’s when the Shamrocks club was formed, the Clann Uladh club reformed in 1928 as a hurling club ‘til 1963 when they then amalgamated with the Shamrocks. The Faughs had their meetings in the old St. Colman’s hall in Castle Street. The Mitchels reformed in 1956 and a new club in 1963, The Bosco. Today in Newry there are six clubs in Down and three in the Armagh side of Newry. In the Down side, Ballyholland, Bosco, Glen, Saval, Mitchels and Shamrocks, on the Armagh side they are Killeavy, Carrickcruppen, Corenchico. The G.A.A. has come a long way since 1884 in Newry, with nine well round clubs.
St. Colman’s Hall
Castle St. was, for some, the ballroom of romance, some their first Ceili, but more important it was were the Faugh Na Ballagh club held all their meetings. It was also here where the first hurling club was formed and the first camogie team in Ulster was founded, in 1903 by the Faugh Na Ballagh club, it is also said that the rules of camogie were made here. The Faughs held their annual presentation in the hall every year and their annual Ceili was also held. The Down team of 1946 that won the Junior All Ireland, used the hall for training under G. Brown and Frank McGreevy, both men were members of the Newry club.
First heroes are local
From the time a child is brought down to the local fields to join their comrades in the Shamrocks club, the ambition is to wear the team colours in a county final. No matter what height a player scales later in life nothing matches the feeling, which a first county final appearance evokes. The club has always been the core unit of the G.A.A. the spring from which the sense of passion and pride, which marks the game, has always flowed. The county competition is the staff of life for the G.A.A. a prism through which communities can display themselves, a means of expression and celebration.
Player after player testifies that nothing compares to a club breaking a long famine, the sensation of the final whistle blowing and the fields being invaded by jubilant friends and family, and fellow club members, some weeping, some whooping. That’s the magic of the game. When the boy becomes a man the ultimate is, of course, to wear the county colours and to play in an All-Ireland final. Just like some of our senior football players did, in senior, junior and minors finals. In hurling we had three played in a junior final and one in a minor final. In camogie many of our girls went on to play in an All Ireland final. Today, down at our club, our mentors are working very hard to achieve this, to see the youth reach the top of their game, should it be camogie, hurling or football, to play in county finals and to play for the county teams as well so that their dreams can come true.