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Captain Blake of Towerhill provided Jerseys and Caps in the Mayo County colours, Green and Red for a football match between Ballyglass and Belcarra played in a field on the Towerhill Demesne. This field is opposite the front entrance to Carnacon House. The gate entrance to this field was known as ‘The Bogey Gate’. The match was played in the mid-Eighteen-Eighties. The game broke up after a row between the teams. The captain himself was a prominent athlete and a good footballer. William Fitzgerald the postman in Carnacon remembered him well and often praised the Captains football talent. William Fitzgerald died on January 1st, 1960 and was then in his mid-Eighties.

Captain Blake was a tall man of fine stature. He had an Army bearing. He was over six-foot tall. He loved football and race meetings. Towards the end he lost most of his sight. The Blake’s built Carnacon School in 1850. The Captain was the Carnacon School Manager. They were also largely responsible for the building of St Jarlath’s College a fact not well known.

Around the nineteen twenties or so, the well-known footballers were the Hurst’s of Clooneen-Tommie and Geoffrey (R.I.C Men) Dick Quinn and of course ‘Nalty’. Eddie McDonnell was the best footballer of his era in Carnacon School.

With a handball alley in Carnacon and Towerhill there were fine handballers such as Michael Walsh (killed in the landing in Normandy) Bob O’ Connell, National teacher in Carnacon, Fr Richard and Fr Batty Canavan, the local priest, ‘Nalty’ and Dick Quinn.

The O’ Malleys of Ballinaglea were great athletes. They were R.I.C men and pulled Tug-O-War on the R.I.C Team, which won the Irish Championship.

There was hurling in Carnacon once too. Frank Thornton, N.T, introduced it. He played football as well with the De La Salle Teacher Training School in Waterford. A Ballyheane man he had an interest in hurling and made many Hurleys from the roots of ash trees. These matches played at Carnacon School were played in the field owned by Tom Hughes (Mike Willies father). Pake Plunkett, R.I.P, Moorehall was a good hurler in National School.

Local lads wanted a football and sports field. The ‘Captain’ obliged and gave them the use of ‘The Bogey Field’ – a fine large flat field. Shortly afterwards land agitation started and “We want land not football” was the thinking of the day. The Captain was forced to withdraw the use of the field and hence football and a football pitch was lost forever to Carnacon. Only for that, Carnacon would be the hub of football in the Parish. Still it matters very little now for those are dim and distant days buried in the annals of time.

 

By ‘Hurler on the ditch’ 1999.

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