All-Ireland Victories inspired Street League Football in Castlebar

The excitement of Mayo winning the Sam Maguire trophy in 1950 and 1951 inspired young boys to engage in street league football in Castlebar. No further encouragement was required after player visitations to St Patrick’s National School and St Gerald’s CollegeMickey the flyer Flanagan, Éamon Mongey and Paddy Prendergast had left an indelible impression.

As for myself, I had arrived in Castlebar in 1948, aged 8, with my parents, sister and brother. My Dad, Bernard McNulty had been appointed as Agent of the Bank of Ireland on The Mall in Castlebar. There we took up residence in a house that I soon heard was haunted. I was led to believe that rebels and others had been hanged from a tree where our house now stood.

Apart from that haunting presence, I had a feeling that something was astir in Castlebar. I made sure to spend time perusing the shelves in Hanley’s nearby newsagency while listening to the local gossip – apparently, much ado about Gaelic football. And then it happened, in 1950, Mayo had won their second All-Ireland title, after a frustrating wait since 1936. I’ll never forget the excitement that gripped the town as the people of Mayo celebrated a victory that lifted morale.

Now it was time for us, young lads, to don our boots and see what we could do on the playing fields. At that time, the population of Castlebar was 4000 according to our geography teacher. The local GAA divided the town into four areas, each of which would support teams at under 11, 14 and 16 years: The Pearses ran from The Mall, up Spencer Street and out the Station Road; The MacHales were drawn from MacHale Road. The Davitts came from the north side of Castlebar around the Linenhall and Staball (now Thomas St) areas; The Emmets were drawn from the west side of the town in the Blackfort and Lough Lannagh areas.

The Pearses won the treble in 1953 (see Note below.) As well as playing at corner forward on the under 14s, I was also a sub on the under 16s, while my brother Hugh was a member of the under 11 panel. The MacHales put manners on us in 1954 when beating us in the under 14 final. On that day, the vanquished Pearses were captained by John Flagsy Flannelly who later went on to play for Castlebar Mitchells at senior level.

My football activity stalled when my parents sent me away to boarding school, Newbridge College, where rugby was king – not my cup of tea! However, I did make a comeback when stationed in the Bank of Ireland, Mullingar in 1958. I played at wing forward with Mullingar Shamrocks in the under 17 and minor county finals. Although unsuccessful, I was proud to have served under the captaincy of Davy Nolan who later played for Westmeath and Leinster.

And now, the dream lives on, as the current wonderfully-talented Mayo team strives for a fourth All-Ireland. My connection with Mayo also lives on following the launch of my first novel, Spellbound by Sibella, in the Castle Bookshop, Castlebar in 2013. More recently, I have presented talks on the family history of the Lynches, Brownes, Blakes and Moores of Mayo at Clogher and Carnacon.

Note: Photo, Courtesy of Maureen Quinn, Carracastle, Carnacon Co Mayo with whom P J Kelly and I cycled to Balla and back on a whim in our younger days. (Identification of players confirmed by Paul & Shane Rodgers, Spencer St, December 5, 2017.)

Back row (from left) Billy Moran, Walter McEvilly, Scorch Connor, Donal Darcy, Joe Egan, Seamus Horkan (RIP), Gussy Jennings, and John Flagsy Flannelly. Front row (from left) Paddy Ward, John Hanley, John Darcy, Sean Reilly, P J Kelly, Henry Horkan, Paul McNulty and Matt Flannelly.

Paul B McNulty, author of the historical novel “Spellbound by Sibella” is flanked by his wife, Treasa, on the left, and by Mayor Noreen Heston, in the middle, who launched his book in the Castle Book Shop, Castlabar, Co Mayo on Wednesday, 20 November 2013.

The Bodkin Murders by Paul B McNulty

David Burke’s Bookshelf, Tuam Herald, page 45, 4 May 2016.

Library Corner – a look at some of the books in your local library.

Fiction mixed with local murders makes for a gripping read.

In second place only to the notorious Maamtrasna Murders in the annals of truly shocking Irish crimes are the ‘Bodkin Murders’ of 1741. That they happened only a few short miles from Tuam makes a recently-published novel by Paul McNulty all the more interesting. The story, as it has been handed down, is known only through a few references in the Dublin newspapers of note of that time, and through the memoirs of the Headford barrister Oliver J. Burke in his Anecdotes of the Connaught Circuit (1885).

This account of the murders claimed that John Bodkin Jr., the dissolute eldest son of Oliver Bodkin of Carrowmore House in Belclare orchestrated the violent murders of his own father, his heavily-pregnant stepmother Margery Blake, and his seven year old stepbrother, Oliver Jr., along with the servants and others unfortunate enough to have been in Carrowmore on the night in question. In all eleven people were murdered. They were purportedly killed as revenge for John Jr’s disinheritance, in favour of the infant Oliver Jr., his father’s other son, by his second marriage. In carrying through the plot, John Jr. was helped by one of Carrowmore’s tenants, John Hogan, and his father’s embittered brother, ‘Blind’ Dominick Bodkin of nearby Carrowbeg. Justice being swifter in those days, all three were apprehended and hung at Claretuam within a matter of days of the murders.

As if all this was not enough, John Jr. made a dramatic confession from the gallows, in which he implicated a cousin (also John Bodkin) of having suffocated his own brother (another Dominick) to death, a number of years earlier, in what the resident magistrate Lord Athenry had at the time judged to have been a natural death. This John was then hunted down and executed in Galway some months later. There have always been problems with the account that Burke gave in 1885; the role of the tenant Hogan is ambiguous to say the least. He was purportedly chief murderer on the night (including of the child), in spite of the fact that he and his wife had fostered Oliver Jr. as a baby. There is moreover an apparent lack of motive in the case of John Bodkin’s fratricide, his brother Dominick being the younger of the two, and therefore no threat to John’s inheritance (of the neighbouring Carrowbeg House in their case).

Without wishing to provide any plot ‘spoilers’, in his latest novel Paul McNulty provides a thrilling tale, which attempts to grapple with some of these discrepancies; its protagonists, the tragic John Bodkin (Dominick’s accused brother) and his fiancée Catherine, daughter of Lord Athenry. Part romance, part thriller, McNulty beautifully evokes the period and has researched the time and its events thoroughly. What comes shining through are not the gory details of an appalling crime, but the human cost to those left behind. A gripping read!

(A Review by Ruairí Ó hAodha.)

A bloody slaughter — a tainted inheritance — a dark secret.

A bloody slaughter — a tainted inheritance — a dark secret.

Book available at Charlie Byrne’s, Club Lighthouse and Amazon

Video “Genealogy of Anglo-Norman Lynches..”

Just click on this link to view a video of my Fulbright Lecture on “The Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who Settled in Galway,” presented on 5 March 2015 under the chairmanship of Professor Art Cosgrove, past President of UCD. The video was recorded by Brian Kelly, Media Services, University College Dublin.

The book on which my lecture was based is available on and on

Anglo-Norman Lynch Genealogy

Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches …

On Thursday 5 March 2015, I presented a lecture on “The Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who Settled in Galway,” under the chairmanship of Professor Art Cosgrove, past-President of University College Dublin. The event was held in the Lynch Theatre, O’Brien Centre for Science, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4 and was supported by the Fulbright Alumni Engagement Fund. The visuals I used, including links to primary sources, are available for inspection through the attached link below, “Lynch OH 7.”

The genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who settled in Galway can be traced back to the invasion of Ireland by Strongbow in 1169. Having settled as one of the fourteen Tribes of Galway, the Lynches held the mayoralty of Galway more than eighty times from 1485 through 1654. Their hold on power was diminished in the city by the Cromwellian confiscations but revived in the countryside through the establishment of landed estates. Eventually, the Anglo-Norman Lynches became more Irish than the Irish themselves. They are now virtually indistinguishable from the older Gaelic Lynches whose name is derived from Ó Loinsigh. The discovery of forgotten stories linked to the Lynches has inspired the author to write historical novels and plays based on real events in 18th century Ireland.

Paul McNulty is a Fulbright Scholar and Alumnus of UCD, Ohio State and MIT. He served on the academic staff at University College Dublin from 1972-2005 and since retirement has studied Genealogy/Family History and Creative Writing. His diploma project, “The Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who Settled in Galway,” was published in the Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society in 2010. Paul has written two historical novels, Spellbound by Sibella, and The Abduction of Anne O’Donel, inspired by his research in genealogy. Both have been finalists in the William Faulkner Novel Competitions in 2012 and 2013 respectively, and have been published by Club Lighthouse CLP, Canada.

Lynch OH 7

Thomas McNulty, the grandfather I never knew.

My grandfather, Thomas McNulty, the son of Charles of Derry City and Maria McColgan of Culdaff, Donegal, attended Trinity College Dublin before studying the law at King’s Inns, Dublin. He was admitted as a barrister to the Society in the Trinity Term 1889. He married Mary Boylan of 31 Hawthorn Terrace, Dublin 3 in Rathmines Roman Catholic Church, Dublin on 30 December, 1891. They lived with their children, Charles, Thomas Bernard (my father), John and Margaret Mary at 15 Warrington Place, Dublin 2. Little is known of my grandfather’s professional practice as a barrister. He died young on 8 November, 1903 in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, and is buried with his wife, children and my mother, Kathleen McHugh, of Tuam, Co Galway in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

The following record of my grandfather was provided by Sile O’Shea of the King’s Inns Library, Henrietta Street, Dublin on 26 July 2007:

The entry for your grandfather appears in the book, ‘King’s Inns Barristers, 1868-2004′, edited by Kenneth Ferguson (The Honorable Society of King’s Inns in association with The Irish Legal History Society, 2005), as follows –

McNulty, Thomas (b. 1 Sept. 1863) only s. of Charles McNulty, decd., late of Great James’ Street, Derry, Co. Londonderry, and Maria McColgan; B.A. (T.C.D.); M 1885. 1889/T/03.

The Records’ Room of the King’s Inns library holds the papers belonging to your grandfather if you wish to consult them.

As regards any details of your grandfather’s professional practice as a barrister, it may be possible that after your grandfather’s death an obituary appeared in the ‘Irish Law Times’ periodical which is also held in the King’s Inns library. It would be necessary to know when your grandfather died so that that particular volume could be checked in the library for any details relating to him and his professional life. If his date of death is not known, it might be worth checking the ‘Thom’s Directory’ to see up to what date your grandfather practiced and that might give you some indication of when he died.

Thomas McNulty, Barrister-at-Law, Dublin,1863-1903.

Thomas McNulty, Barrister-at-Law, Dublin,1863-1903.

Mary Boylan, the wife of Thomas McNulty, Barrister-at-Law, Dublin, Ireland.

Mary Boylan, the wife of Thomas McNulty, Barrister-at-Law, Dublin, Ireland.

The Legal Education of Thomas McNulty at King's Inns, Dublin, Ireland, 1889.

The Legal Education of Thomas McNulty at King’s Inns, Dublin, Ireland, 1889.

The Lynch Clan of Galway and their Famous Associations

You can read and listen to my podcast which links the Anglo-Norman Lynches of Galway to the Michel Lynch wine label, to Che Guevara and Bram Stoker. My contribution starts at the conclusion of a previous item (lasting 1.50 minutes) on The History Show, RTE radio,

A more detailed exposition on The Lynch Clan of Galway and their Famous Associations is included in the Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who settled in Galway available on Amazon UK and on

Lynch’s castle, Galway, c.1500 built of limestone in the Irish gothic style and noted for its elaborate decorative style. Bearing the arms of Henry VII and the Lynch family, it is now occupied by the AIB bank at the junction of Shop and Abbeygate Streets.

Lynch’s castle, Galway, c.1500 built of limestone in the Irish gothic style and noted for its elaborate decorative style. Bearing the arms of Henry VII and the Lynch family, it is now occupied by the AIB bank at the junction of Shop and Abbeygate Streets.