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.

Blurb for “1798: A REBEL ROMANCE”18-22 April at UCD, 7 pm.

1798: A Rebel Romance portrays the revolutionary experience of John Moore and Cecilia Lynch who have been radicalized by the unjust nature of society. John, the son of a wealthy entrepreneur, studied at the Sorbonne during the French Revolution where he adopted the democratic ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Cecilia Lynch, the illegitimate daughter of the late Sir Harry Lynch-Blosse of Balla, Co Mayo, returned to her foster grandparents, the Moores of Mayo after her father died. The Moore’s independent streak, refusing to conform to Protestantism, had the impact of radicalizing Cecilia.
Thus when John Moore returned from mainland Europe to his ancestral home, it was almost inevitable that his involvement with the United Irishman would forge a bond between him and Cecilia. As such, she is an ideal vehicle within which to explore the role of women in revolution an aspect largely ignored by historians and, thereby, worthy of investigation through the medium of a play.

General Humbert, on horseback, led the combined Franco-Irish army to rout the British in 1798. immortalized as "The Races of Castlebar."

General Humbert, on horseback, led the combined Franco-Irish army to rout the British in 1798. immortalized as “The Races of Castlebar.”

“1798: A Rebel Romance,” a stage play by Paul B McNulty

When Cecilia Lynch falls in love with John Moore, a United Irishman, she finds herself drawn into the web of revolution. The illegitimate daughter of the late Sir Harry Lynch-Blosse stands by her fiance when General Humbert routs the redcoats through Castlebar. Cecilia is jubilant when the Frenchman appoints Moore, formerly of Alicante and the Sorbonne, as President of Connaught in 1798 within the declared Irish Republic. Their hopes for the future are unrestrained, unless powerful forces may conspire to destroy their dream.

The Races of Castlebar. (Courtesy of Stephen Dunford of Kilalla.)

The Races of Castlebar. (Courtesy of Stephen Dunford of Kilalla.)

UCD Dramsoc has scheduled my stage play for 18-22 April, 2016 in a state-of-the-art theatre in the Student Centre (adjacent to the new Sport’s Centre) at Belfield, Dublin 4. Shows commence at 7 pm and are open to the public. Admission is €5 payable on the night. Advance bookings by emailing info@ucddramsoc.com

ELOPEMENT, 5 min play, for UCD Dramsoc

ELOPEMENT by Paul B McNulty

Sibella Cottle, now pregnant, is thrilled when Harry Lynch-Blosse elopes with her. But will his unresolved annulment shatter her dreams?

CHARACTERS
SIBELLA COTTLE (Sarah Burton, also Orlaith): An orphaned, 19 year-old red-haired beauty.
HARRY LYNCH-BLOSSE (Ryan Gillespie, also Donagh Ruane): A philandering 25 year-old heir to a baronetcy.
RECTOR GARROOD (Liam Galgey): Church of England, Belstead, Suffolk.
(Disembodied voices may play the butler and the chamber-maid.)

SETTING
Wednesday, 8th December 1773, drawing room of Belstead Hall, Suffolk, home of Elizabeth Barker, the late mother of Harry Lynch-Blosse, Balla, Co Mayo, and the home of her late uncle, Tobias Blosse.

Miss Constable (1787) by George Romney, 1734-1802. (Original portrait in Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon)

Sibella Cottle is assumed to be adequately represented by George Romney’s 1787 portrait of Miss Constable. (Original portrait in Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon.)

SIBELLA SITS ON A SOFA IN THE DRAWING ROOM OF BELSTEAD HALL. SHE WEARS A MODEST DRESS WITH HER HAIR TIED HIGH. HARRY ENTERS WEARING A JACKET, CRAVAT, WAISTCOAT, SWORD AND TIGHT BREECHES OVER WHITE STOCKINGS.

SIBELLA: Harry! Why are you wearing your sword?

HARRY: Because, Rector Garrood has agreed to marry us.

SIBELLA: Wondrous! That’s great news, Harry. (RISES.) It only seems like yesterday since I left a note for my parents.

HARRY: What did you say?

SIBELLA: I thanked them … from the bottom of my heart … for looking after me from infancy. I asked them to forgive me for my irresponsible behaviour / that

HARRY: Irresponsible behaviour?

SIBELLA: Sleeping with you, you big brute! (PACES.) They offered to settle me in Waterford during my confinement. I would have hated that! Instead, you offered to take me to Suffolk. I asked them not to be angry with me.

HARRY: What happened next?

SIBELLA: I rose at five that morning. I donned my winter shawl and shouldered my bag. I crept down the stairs and opened the back door. The guard dog wandered over. I stroked him to keep him quiet. He walked with me to the corn mill where I waited until I heard the sound of footsteps.

HARRY: And then … the dogs started barking … but we were on our way … by gig to Castlebar … by coach to Ballinasloe … and on to Dublin. Seven days later … we arrived exhausted at Belstead … after a stormy sea and bumpy coach-rides.

SIBELLA: I was so sick. I feared for the safety of our baby … but I think he’s all right.

HARRY: Thank God for that.

SIBELLA: What did Lady Lynch say when you announced your departure?

HARRY: She wondered if I might find it lonely. I said: “Grandmamma! How could I possibly be lonely in the house of my birth, the house in which I spent the first six years of my life?”

SIBELLA: Clever boy. (PAUSE.) So what did you do in Ipswich yesterday?

HARRY: I met the family solicitor. He gave me this affidavit. (LAYS IT ON THE TABLE.) I’m now free to marry. (BENDING DOWN ON ONE KNEE.) Sibella Cottle, I ask you again … will you do me the great honour? (PROFFERS AN ENGAGEMENT RING.) Will you marry me, my dear heart?

SIBELLA: Of course, I will marry you, my darling. (HUGS HIM.) This is the happiest day of my life. (ADMIRES THE RING ON HER FOURTH LEFT FINGER.) But how will Garrood react to my faith?

HARRY: Mixed marriages are now allowed in England, he said. (FROWNS.) But then he wondered … if you were one-and-twenty.

SIBELLA: Why?

HARRY: Because at nineteen, you need the written consent of your parents. I said a gentleman could never ask a lady her age. I insisted, however, that you had reached your majority.

SIBELLA: Clever again! I can swear to nineteen with a clear conscience … it suffices for a majority in certain cases. (PACES.) But how can we marry today? I have no wedding dress.

HARRY: You could wear my mother’s wedding / dress

SIBELLA: Oh how I would love my own creation … but your mother’s wedding dress will have to do … if, I can fit into it … in my condition.

A KNOCK ON THE DOOR SIGNALS THE ENTRANCE OF RECTOR GARROOD.

HARRY: You’re most welcome, Rector. Allow me to introduce Miss Cottle of Ashbrook House.

GARROOD: I’m delighted to meet you Miss Cottle.

SIBELLA: (CURTSIES.) Thank you for agreeing to marry us, Rector. As you know, I’m a Catholic, and have reached my majority.

GARROOD: You certainly have retained a remarkable youthfulness. It must be the fresh air of Ireland.

SIBELLA: Please excuse me, gentlemen … I must settle my hair.

AT THE APPOINTED HOUR, THE CHAMBER-MAID PLAYS A WEDDING MARCH ON THE PIANO OFFSTAGE. SIBELLA ENTERS, WEARING A LOW-CUT DRESS WITH HER HAIR BOBBING OVER HER SHOULDERS. CANDLES, FLOWERS AND INCENSE STICKS DECORATE THE ROOM.

HARRY: (HUMS THE WEDDING MARCH.) Sibella, my darling, you are a diamond of the first water. (ESCORTS HER TO STAND BEFORE GARROOD.)

GARROOD: (SMILES.) We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Mr Harry Lynch-Blosse and Miss Sibella Cottle in holy matrimony. (GLANCES AT HARRY.) Mr Lynch-Blosse will you take Miss Sibella Cottle to be your lawful wedded wife? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her for as long as … (FROWNS.) Is that a galloping horse, I hear?

OFFSTAGE: An urgent message for Mr Lynch-Blosse.

HARRY’S HAND TREMBLES WHILE OPENING THE LETTER. AFTER SCANNING IT, HE COLLAPSES INTO THE SOFA WITH THE LETTER DANGLING FROM HIS LEFT HAND.

GARROOD: Are you quite well, Mr Lynch-Blosse?

HARRY: (PASSES THE LETTER TO GARROOD.) I’m ever so sorry, Sibella.

SIBELLA: For heaven’s sake, what does it say?

GARROOD: (RECITES.) “ … Further to a request from my colleague in Ipswich … I regret to say that your application for an annulment of your first marriage remains unresolved. May I suggest that you postpone your wedding to Miss Cottle until we remove this encumbrance to your union?
Andrew Edmondson, Solicitor, Castlebar.”

SIBELLA: How could you do this to me, Harry? How could you be so stupid … so careless?

HARRY: Don’t worry my darling. Edmondson will soon sort it, I promise.

SIBELLA SINKS BACK INTO THE SOFA AND CRIES.

HARRY: Please accept my apologies, Rector Garrood. I was sure my annulment would have succeeded by now.

GARROOD: You must not worry. You will marry soon. Now, I should leave you in peace. (DEPARTS.)

HARRY: (DRAWS HIS SWORD.) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! (HOLDS IT ALOFT AND PLUNGES IT INTO THE SOFA BESIDE SIBELLA.)

END OF PLAY.

………………………………………………………………………………………………..
PROVENANCE
Participant in the UCD Dramsoc Mini Plays Festival (including minor amendments), Dramsoc Theatre at 7 p.m. on 14, 15 and 16 October, 2015 under the direction of Rosa Bowden, Auditor, UCD Dramsoc, Student Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. Actors (indicated in italics) are members of UCD Dramsoc.

PROPS
1. Sofa and table.
2. Modest dress quickly convertible to a low-cut dress.
3. Harry’s jacket, cravat, waistcoat and tight breeches over white stockings.
4. Affidavit and Letter.
5. Engagement ring.
6. Candles, flowers and incense sticks.
7. Waistband, scabbard and sword.

SOUND
1. Sound of footsteps.
2. Dogs barking.
3. Wedding march (MENDELSSOHN Piano).
4. Sound of a galloping horse.

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

1776 Election to the Irish Parliament for Mayo

The election manifesto of Arthur Browne, Viscount Westport and James Cuffe MP of Ballinrobe was published in the Freeman’s Journal on six occasions from May 9 to May 21 for the May 23 election in Castlebar. The two candidates appeared irritated by having to endure an electoral contest having been nominated to represent Mayo by the gentlemen of the county on September 4, 1775.

To the Gentlemen, Clergy, and Freeholders of the County of Mayo.
Gentlemen, Having had the Honour to be called upon to stand joint Candidates to represent the County of Mayo in the next Parliament, by the unanimous voice of the Gentlemen of our County at the County Meeting, held at Castlebar on Monday the 4th September last, by Advertisement in the public Papers, the High Sheriff in the Chair, We thought that the Sense of that Meeting would show the Sentiments of the County, and prevent the unnecessary Trouble to Gentlemen removed from Castlebar of attending at the Election; but as we find that an Opposition is intended, we beg Leave to call upon you for the Honour of your Suffrages on that Occasion; and as the High Sheriff has fixed on Thursday the 23rd Day of this inst. May, at the County Courthouse in Castlebar, in said County, at eight o’Clock in the Forenoon of said Day, to proceed to the Election; and as it is probable (as two polls are by the late Law to go on together) the Election will not hold many Days, the early Appearances of our friends will lay a lasting Obligation on,
Gentlemen,
Your most obliged, and most obedient humble Servants,
WESTPORT, JAMES CUFF.
Castlebar May 7, 1776.

When the votes were counted over two days, Browne (709) and Cuffe (613) were re-elected despite opposition from George Fitzgerald Esq (245), and Charles Fitzgerald Esq (149) who were eliminated. The total votes cast for the four candidates were 1716 as recorded in Finn’s Leinster Journal and in the Freeman’s Journal, Sat 1 Jun 1776.

James Cuffe of Ballinrobe, elected Member of Parliament for Mayo in 1776.

James Cuffe of Ballinrobe, elected Member of Parliament for Mayo in 1776.

Bishop murdered at Lough Conn

When I wrote about the abduction of Anne O’Donel to Glass Island, Lough Conn in 1785, I was unaware of the story of the Bishop who was reputedly murdered there. Josie Kilduff, a student at nearby Lisaniska National School, describes how the Franciscan monks invited the Bishop of the diocese to Glass Island to elect a new Abbot to their Monastery. The monks also invited the Bishop to remain on the island for a while, but not long after, they found him murdered there.

Further distress afflicted the monks after a monster reputedly came in from the lake and destroyed their crops. They eventually abandoned the island. Josie also states that the monster appears in the lake before a drowning.

Josie’s story was recorded as part of the recently digitized School’s Collection in the National Folklore Collection of the late 1930s under the title, “The Franciscan Monastery of Glass Island in Lough Conn.” The only other reference I found to a monastic settlement in Lough Conn is to the nearby Errew Abbey at Crossmolina.

"The Abduction of Anne O'Donel" by Paul B McNulty is published by Club Lighthouse CLP, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is also available on Amazon.

“The Abduction of Anne O’Donel” by Paul B McNulty is published by Club Lighthouse CLP, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is also available on Amazon.

EHFA: The Abduction of Anne O’Donel – Truth or Fiction?

The background to the recently published historical novel, The Abduction of Anne O’Donel, is outlined in a blog on the English Historical Fiction Authors (EHFA) website. It includes issues such as contemporary relevance and historical accuracy with links to key on-line sources that relate to the 1785 abduction of Anne O’Donel in Co Mayo, Ireland. The blog also features a biography for the author, Paul B McNulty.

"The Abduction of Anne O'Donel" by Paul B McNulty is published by Club Lighthouse CLP, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is also available on Amazon.

“The Abduction of Anne O’Donel” by Paul B McNulty is published by Club Lighthouse CLP, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is also available on Amazon.

Teresa Quinn interviews Paul B McNulty on “The Abduction of Anne O’Donel.”

The Abduction of Anne O’Donel was the subject of Teresa Quinn’s interview of Paul B McNulty on Liffey Sound 96.4 FM last Sunday. In a wide-ranging interview, Teresa explored the background to Paul’s second historical novel now available as an e-book on Club Lighthouse and as both an e-book and print book on Amazon UK and Amazon.com.

Paul explained how his work was inspired by a genealogical study of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who settled in Galway. This led him to draft three historical novels, two of which have been published.

Later this year, he hopes to publish “The Bodkin Murders,” a story based on real events in mid-18th century Galway. Thereafter, he plans to write a play based on each novel using two male and two female characters in each case.

Paul was delighted to be invited onto Liffey Sound 96.4 FM, a Community Radio station since 2006. Based in Lucan, Co Dublin, Ireland, it is run by about 70 volunteers. It includes broadcasting hours of 4pm to 10pm weekdays and 8am to 10pm weekends.

Front cover of "The Abduction of Anne O'Donel" by Paul B McNulty.

The cover of a 75,000 word historical novel based on real events in late 18th century Ireland.

Glass island on Lough Conn, Co Mayo where Anne O'Donel was imprisoned.

Glass island on Lough Conn, Co Mayo where Anne O’Donel was imprisoned.

5 star review for “Spellbound by Sibella” by Paul B McNulty

I was pleased to receive a 5 star review for my historical novel, Spellbound by Sibella, from Jack Hudson on Amazon.com. It runs as follows:

Fascinating, scandalous….

The story of Sibella and Sir Harry is a fascinating one. The political implications, the intrigues, the pressure on the weak Sir Harry to marry an heiress and desert his true wife and children – great stuff. The gruesome witchcraft adds to the drama, and gives an insight into the lives of the common people. Indeed, a lot of the story’s interest lies in the sense it gives of fidelity to the society it depicts: it’s based on true events, even if one hopes it’s not all true.

Fascinating, scandalous, mostly authentic…

“Spellbound by Sibella” is the debut historical novel written by Paul B McNulty based on real events in late 18th century Ireland.