seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


Leave a comment

Death of Tom Aherne, Irish Footballer & Hurler

Thomas Aherne, Irish footballer and hurler also referred to as Bud Aherne, dies on December 30, 1999. He plays football for Belfast Celtic F.C. and Luton Town F.C. and is a dual internationalist, playing for both Ireland teams – the IFA XI and the FAI XI. In 1949 he is a member of the FAI XI that defeats England 2–0 at Goodison Park, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home. As a hurler he also plays one game for Limerick.

Aherne is born in Limerick, County Limerick, on January 26, 1919. As a youth, he initially emerges as a prominent hurler with Treaty Sarsfields and also plays one game for Limerick. However he subsequently decides to concentrate on football and begins his senior career with Limerick United where his teammates include Davy Walsh. During World War II, he serves in the Irish Army and is stationed at Crosshaven. His impressive performances in the League of Ireland attract attention and in 1946 he is signed by Belfast Celtic.

While at Belfast Celtic, Aherne plays alongside Jackie Vernon, Billy McMillan, Robin Lawler and Johnny Campbell and helps them win the Irish Cup in 1947 and an Irish League title in 1948. He is also at Celtic during the infamous Boxing Day riot which breaks out during a game against local rivals Linfield F.C. In March 1949, he leaves Celtic and signs for Luton Town. However, in May 1949, he temporarily rejoins Celtic for their final tour before the club disbands. Together with McMillan, Campbell, Lawlor, guest player Mick O’Flanagan and manager Elisha Scott, he goes on the Celtic tour of North America. The highlight of the 10-game tour comes on May 29 when Celtic beats the reigning British champions, Scotland, 2–0.

Aherne signed for Luton Town for a fee of £6,000 and makes his English Football League debut on March 19 in a 2–1 away defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Despite the fact he is over 30 when he joins Luton, he quickly establishes himself as a regular. He plays competitive football into his late thirties and is ever-present during the 1954–55 season when Luton wins promotion to Division One. After playing 288 games for Luton, including 267 in the league, he retires after a hairline fracture of the ankle ends his career. Even then he continues to play for a local league team, Luton Celtic, into his forties.

When Aherne begins his international career in 1946 there are in effect, two Ireland teams, chosen by two rival associations. Both associations, the Belfast-based Irish Football Association and the Dublin-based Football Association of Ireland, claim jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland and select players from the whole island. As a result, several notable Irish players from this era, including Aherne play for both teams.

Between 1946 and 1953 Aherne makes 16 appearances for the FAI XI. He makes his FAI debut in June 1946 during an Iberian tour, playing in both the 3–1 defeat to Portugal on June 16 and then helping the FAI XI gain a surprise 1–0 victory against Spain on June 23. He remains a regular in the FAI XI throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s and is featured prominently in the qualifying rounds for the 1950 FIFA World Cup. He is also a member of the FAI XI team that defeats England 2–0 at Goodison Park, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home.

On November 16, 1953, during a 1–1 draw with France, Aherne briefly becomes involved in controversy. Although only a friendly, the game quickly becomes heated and at one point, with Aherne chasing Raymond Kopa down the tunnel after play had been stopped for a foul. Kopa allegedly runs for his life after upsetting Aherne once too often. The FAI selectors are not impressed and Aherne is told a repeat will end his international career. As it turns out, he makes only one more appearance for the FAI XI. That comes on October 4, 1953, in 5–3 defeat against France during a qualifier for the 1954 FIFA World Cup.

Between 1946 and 1950, Aherne also makes six appearances for the IFA XI. These include two Victory Internationals played in early 1946. On February 2 at Windsor Park, he makes his debut for the IFA XI in a 3–2 defeat to Scotland. Then on May 4 he helps the IFA XI defeat Wales 1–0 at Ninian Park. On September 28, 1946, he also plays for the IFA XI in a heavy defeat to England. The highlight of his career with the IFA XI comes on October 4, 1947 when he helps them gain a 2–0 win against Scotland.

Ahern makes his last appearance for the IFA XI in a 0–0 draw with Wales on March 8, 1950. As well as being part of the 1950 British Home Championship, the game also doubles up as a qualifier for the 1950 FIFA World Cup. Aherne, together with Con Martin, Reg Ryan and Davy Walsh, is one of four players from the Republic, included in the IFA XI that day and as a result he plays for two different associations in the same FIFA World Cup tournament. This situation eventually leads to intervention by FIFA and as a result Aherne becomes one of the last four Republic-born players to play for the IFA XI.

After retiring as a player Aherne settles in Luton where he coaches the Luton Town youth team, works in the local car industry and runs a very successful licensed premises. He also continues to visit Limerick regularly and remains healthy and active until he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the mid-1990s. He dies on December 30, 1999 at the age of 80 and is survived by his wife, Eileen, two sons, Pat and Brian, and three daughters, Maura, Trisha and Catherine.


Leave a comment

Birth of Oscar Traynor, Fianna Fáil Politician & Republican

Oscar Traynor, Fianna Fáil politician and republican, is born in Dublin on March 21, 1886. He serves as Minister for Justice from 1957 to 1961, Minister for Defence from 1939 to 1948 and 1951 to 1954, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs from 1936 to 1939 and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence from June 1936 to November 1936. He serves as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1925 to 1927 and 1932 to 1961. He is also involved with association football, being the President of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) from 1948 until 1963.

Traynor is born into a strongly nationalist family in Dublin. He is educated by the Christian Brothers. In 1899, he is apprenticed to John Long, a famous wood-carver. As a young man he is a noted footballer and tours Europe as a goalkeeper with Belfast Celtic F.C. whom he plays with from 1910 to 1912. He rejects claims soccer is a foreign sport calling it “a Celtic game, pure and simple, having its roots in the Highlands of Scotland.”

Traynor joins the Irish Volunteers and takes part in the Easter Rising in 1916, being the leader of the Hotel Metropole garrison. Following this he is interned in Wales. During the Irish War of Independence, he is brigadier of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army and leads the disastrous attack on the Custom House in 1921 and an ambush on the West Kent Regiment at Claude Road, Drumcondra on June 16, 1921 when the Thompson submachine gun is fired for the first time in action.

When the Irish Civil War breaks out in June 1922, Traynor takes the Anti-Treaty IRA side. The Dublin Brigade is split, however, with many of its members following Michael Collins in taking the pro-Treaty side. During the Battle of Dublin he is in charge of the Barry’s Hotel garrison, before making their escape. He organises guerilla activity in south Dublin and County Wicklow, before being captured by Free State troops in September. He is then imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

On March 11, 1925, Traynor is elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election as a Sinn Féin TD for the Dublin North constituency, though he does not take his seat due to the abstentionist policy of Sinn Féin. He is re-elected as one of eight members for Dublin North in the June 1927 Irish general election but just one of six Sinn Féin TDs. Once again, he does not take his seat. He does not contest the September 1927 Irish general election but declares his support for Fianna Fáil. He stands again in the 1932 Irish general election and is elected as a Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin North.

In 1936, Traynor is first appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. In September 1939, he is appointed Minister for Defence and holds the portfolio to February 1948. In 1948, he becomes President of the Football Association of Ireland, a position he holds until his death. He serves as Minister for Defence in several Fianna Fáil governments and as Minister for Justice, where he is undermined by his junior minister, and later Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, before he retires in 1961.

Traynor dies in Dublin at the age of 77 on December 15, 1963. He has a road named in his memory, running from the Malahide Road through Coolock to Santry in Dublin’s northern suburbs.

(Pictured: Minister for Defence Oscar Traynor at his desk, June 1940)


Leave a comment

Death of Elisha Scott, Northern Irish Goalkeeper

Elisha Scott, Northern Irish football goalkeeper, dies in Belfast on May 16, 1959. He plays for Liverpool from 1912 to 1934, and still holds the record as their longest-serving player.

Scott is born in Belfast on August 24, 1893. He plays for Linfield and Broadway United before Liverpool manager Tom Watson signs him on September 1, 1912, following a recommendation from Scott’s older brother Billy Scott. Liverpool only gets the opportunity to sign Scott when Everton decides that the 19-year-old is too young.

Scott is reported as signed by Crewe Alexandra in August 1913, presumably under some sort of loan arrangement. He succeeds Thomas Charles Allison as deputy for the first choice keeper, Arthur Box, and plays for them in the early part of the 1913-14 season.

Scott finally makes his Liverpool debut on January 1, 1913 at St. James’ Park. The team plays Newcastle United to a 0–0 draw.

During the early days of his career, Scott is understudy to Kenny Campbell and only appears occasionally. World War I interrupts his career for four years. He finally gets a chance of a run in the Liverpool goal at the end of the season. His goalkeeping position is set in stone when Campbell is allowed to leave in April 1920. He establishes himself as Liverpool’s number one. He is a major part of the back-to-back Championship winning teams of 1922 and 1923, missing just three games of the first title and none in the second.

Numerous stories about Scott exist in Liverpool folklore. One such story relates to a 1924 game, after Scott has just made a phenomenal save at Ewood Park against Blackburn Rovers. A man appearing from the crowd goes over to Scott and kisses him. He is part of one of the legendary rivalries of the day along with Everton’s Dixie Dean. The two of them are the main topic of discussion when the day of the Merseyside derby is approaching. Everton declares that Dean will score while Liverpool disagrees, saying Scott will not let a single shot past. A famous story, possibly apocryphal, associated with the two men is that of how they once encountered each other in Belfast city centre the day before an Ireland versus England game. Dean, famed for his remarkable heading ability, touches his hat and nods to Scott as they are about to pass. Scott responds by diving as if to try to save an imaginary header, much to the initial shock and then delight of the locals who witness it while a mildly shocked Dean smiles and quietly continues on his walk.

Towards the end of the decade, Scott loses his starting position to another Liverpool goalkeeper, Arthur Riley, but he never gives up the battle for the position of goalkeeper. However, at the beginning of the 1930s it becomes more and more difficult for Scott to get into the line-up. Eventually he asks if he can return to his homeland when his old team Belfast Celtic offers him a player-manager role in 1934. Liverpool consents. He plays the last of his 467 appearances at Chelsea on February 21, 1934, where Chelsea defeats Liverpool 2–0.

Upon Liverpool’s final home match of the season Scott heads to the director’s box to give his adoring fans a farewell speech. He plays his final game for the Belfast club in 1936 at the age of 42. In his time as manager of the Celtics, he wins ten Irish League titles, six Irish Cups, three City Cups, eight Gold Cups and five County Antrim Shields.

Scott dies in Belfast on May 16, 1959 and is buried in Belfast City Cemetery.


Leave a comment

Oscar Traynor Leads Anti-Treaty IRA Occupation of O’Connell Street

On June 29, 1922 during the Irish Civil War, Oscar Traynor leads Anti-Treaty members of the Irish Republican Army‘s (IRA) 1st Dublin Brigade to occupy O’Connell Street in order to help the Four Courts garrison. His men also take up positions in York Street, South Circular Road, Capel Street, Parnell Square, and Dolphin’s Barn.

Traynor is an Irish politician and republican born into a strongly nationalist family in Dublin on March 21, 1886. He serves in a number of cabinet positions, most notably as the country’s longest-serving Minister for Defence. He is educated by the Christian Brothers in Dublin. In 1899 he is apprenticed to John Long, a famous wood-carver. As a young man he is a noted footballer and tours Europe as a goalkeeper with Belfast Celtic F.C. whom he plays with from 1910 to 1912.

Traynor joins the Irish Volunteers and takes part in the Easter Rising in 1916, following which he is interned in Wales. During the Irish War of Independence he is brigadier of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army. He leads the attack on The Custom House in 1921 and an ambush on the West Kent Regiment at Claude Road, Drumcondra on June 16, 1921 when the Thompson submachine gun is fired for the first time in action. When the Irish Civil War breaks out in June 1922, Traynor takes the republican side.

The Dublin Brigade is split however, with many of its members following Michael Collins in taking the pro-Treaty side. On June 29, 1922, Traynor and his supporters occupy O’Connell Street in an attempt to help the republicans who have occupied the Four Courts but are under attack by Free State forces. Traynor and his men hold out for a week of street fighting before making their escape. He organises guerilla activity in south Dublin and County Wicklow, before being captured by Free State troops in September. He is then imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

On March 11, 1925 Traynor is elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election as a Sinn Féin Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin North constituency, though he does not take his seat due to the abstentionist policy of Sinn Féin. He is re-elected as one of eight members for Dublin North in the June 1927 general election but just one of six Sinn Féin TDs. Once again he does not take his seat. He does not contest the second general election called that year but declares his support for Fianna Fáil. He stands again in the 1932 general election and is elected as a Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin North.

In 1936 Traynor is first appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. In September 1939 he is appointed Minister for Defence and holds the portfolio until February 1948. In 1948 he becomes President of the Football Association of Ireland, a position he holds until his death. He serves as Minister for Defence in several Fianna Fáil governments and as Minister for Justice, where he is undermined by his junior minister, and later Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, before he retires in 1961.

Oscar Traynor dies on December 15, 1963, in Dublin at the age of seventy-seven. He has a road named in his memory on the Coolock to Santry stretch in North Dublin.

(Pictured: Oscar Traynor in Dublin in July 1922)