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Fascinating part of Kerry’s sporting history returns

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A fascinating part of Kerry’s sporting history has returned to Killorglin in the form of two albums of newspaper cuttings.

CUTTING: Newspaper clippings honouring world class cyclist Gene Mangan the youngest ever winner of the 1955 Rás Tailteann aged 18 has been donated to Killorglin Library. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

WINNER: Gene Mangan the youngest ever winner of the 1955 Rás Tailteann aged 18. He is still the youngest-ever winner.

HISTORY: A fascinating part of Kerry’s sporting history has returned to Killorglin. Pictured are: Gillian Mangan younger sister of the legendary Kerry cyclist Gene Mangan with Kerry County Librarian Tommy O'Connor. At the back are: Tom Daly (Vice President Cycling Ireland) Éibhlín Hayes (Killorglin Library) and Mary Concannon (Killorglin Cycling Club). Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

Legendary Kerry cyclist, Gene Mangan's historic feats were put together via the clippings in the 1950s by his younger sister Gillian Mangan.

At an event at Killorglin Library today (Tuesday), Gillian donated the albums to Kerry Library who will hold them for public access in the Kerry Local History and Archives in Tralee.

Gillian’s collections begin in 1954 when Gene was 17-years-old and started becoming prominent in cycling circles.

"I was seven years younger than Gene and he was a hero in my eyes," she said.

"I got all the papers and cut out anything to do with Gene and stuck them into old account books. I’m delighted that they will now be preserved of use for future generations and I’d like to thank the library for hosting them."

SENSATION

Gene became a national sporting sensation in 1955 by winning the Rás Tailteann at the age of 18. Apart from documenting Gene’s early career, the albums also record the glory-days of Kerry cycling in the 1950s and '60s that also include Paudie Fitzgerald’s Rás win in 1956 and Mick Murphy’s in 1958, as well as the all-important Kerry team wins. A large collection of newspaper cuttings relating to Kerry cycling kept by the Mangan family has also been donated.

In addition, they also include cuttings and pictures of ordinary club races and riders and they are highly evocative in giving a wonderful sense of the cycling scene and the people involved in Kerry at the time.

Speaking on behalf of the library, Kerry County Librarian, Tommy O’Connor, thanked Gillian for her donation which will be preserved in a public archive for the use of future generations and he noted that it will supplement the very scarce copy of Gene’s biography that Kerry Library holds - ‘The Gene Mangan Story’ which was written by Seán O’Neill and published in 1959.

The event was also attended by Mary Concannon, a representative of Killorglin Cycling Club and she also paid tribute to Gene.

"Gene left Kerry in the 1950s for work and eventually settled in Dublin but he has had a life-long loyalty to Kerry cycling and in particular to his original club in Killorglin. He has always been a wonderful supporter and has contributed to Killorglin and Kerry cycling in numerous ways down through the years. We would like to thank Gillian for this donation – it will be highly interesting for everyone with an interest in our sporting heritage and an important part of the town’s history," she said.

Also in attendance was Tom Daly from Killarney who is Vice-President of Cycling Ireland. Tom said that Gene was a significant figure in the history of Irish cycling from both a racing and administration point of view – he was also President of the National Cycling Association for a period.

"Gene has previously donated important material related to the history of Irish cycling to the Irish Cycling Archive at the UCD Archives, but it is entirely appropriate that this material, related to his Kerry roots, should stay in Kerry," he said.

The albums and related collection of newspaper cuttings can be viewed at Killorglin library during September and thereafter in the Kerry Local History and Archives at Library Headquarters in Tralee.

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Jim awarded for life-long service to the community

By Michelle Crean Listry local Jim O’Shea was honoured last week as members of the community council presented him with an award for his life-long service to the community. Jim […]

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By Michelle Crean

Listry local Jim O’Shea was honoured last week as members of the community council presented him with an award for his life-long service to the community.

Jim received the O’Shea Award for 2022 at a meeting of Directors of Listry Community Council held on September 21.

Jim has been involved in Athletics from a very early age both as a competitor and administrator.

He was very much involved with Community Games in Milltown/Listry as organiser and coach. He was also involved with the Farranfore Maine Valley Athletic Club since its foundation.

Over the years Jim has competed in athletic events, mainly high jump and long jump, both in Ireland and abroad.

Recently he travelled to Derby in the UK in the British Masters Championship and won Gold in the 100 metres and Long Jump and finished second in the High Jump.

Jim, who is a very modest man, was actively involved with Listry Community Council as a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels and for his commitment to keeping our community litter free by organising a number of litter picking days each year.

Always interested in fitness, Jim often came along to the Listry Seniors Social day and led the group in gentle exercises.

“Jim is a very worthy recipient of the O’Shea Award 2022 and we thank him for a lifetime of service to others,” Tony Darmody, Chairman, said.

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New book recounts stories from the Irish Civil War

The killing of 17-year-old Bertie Murphy in Killarney in September 1922 Historian and author, Owen O’Shea recounts one of the most shocking murders of the Civil War which occurred in […]

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The killing of 17-year-old Bertie Murphy in Killarney in September 1922

Historian and author, Owen O’Shea recounts one of the most shocking murders of the Civil War which occurred in Killarney a century ago this week.

There were many tragic episodes and incidents during the Civil War in Kerry. One of the dreadful features of the conflict was the young age at which many on both sides of the conflict were killed in 1922 and 1923.

In Killarney in August 1922, for example, two young Free State army medics were shot dead by a sniper as they stepped off a boat onto the shore of Inisfallen Island. 18-year-old Cecil Fitzgerald and 20-year-old John O’Meara, both from Galway, had joined the army just a few months previously and were enjoying a boat trip on the lake during a day’s leave when they were killed.

The following month, one of the most shocking deaths to occur in Killarney in this period was the murder of a 17-year-old boy from Castleisland.

Bertie Murphy, a member of Fianna Éireann, the youth wing of the IRA, was just 17-years-old when he was taken into custody by Free State soldiers while walking near his home in September 1922. His mother saw him being taken in away in a truck to the Great Southern Hotel where the army had established its headquarters in the town.

The improvised barracks had a number of prison cells in the basement where anti-Treaty IRA members were detained. The prison would become renowned as a place where beatings and torture took place: a young man whose brother was an IRA captain was taken there and ‘mercilessly beaten to get him to reveal information’. He was then ‘thrown down a coal chute and left as dead’.

On Wednesday, September 27, a Free State army convoy was ambushed by the IRA at Brennan’s Glen on the Tralee road and two officers, Daniel Hannon and John Martin, were killed. Bertie Murphy had been in one of the army vehicles – he was being used by the army as a hostage in an attempt to prevent attacks by anti-Treaty forces. It was common for Free State convoys to carry a prisoner as a deterrent to IRA ambushes and attacks.

When the convoy returned to the hotel, they were met by Colonel David Neligan, one of the most ruthless members of the Kerry Command of the Free State army. Neligan had been a member of Michael Collins’ ‘Squad’ during the War of Independence and was an experienced and battle-hardened soldier.

Neligan demanded to know why the soldiers had not taken any prisoners during the ambush at Brennan’s Glen, in which two of his officers had died. The soldiers, in a frenzy following the ambush, threw Bertie Murphy down the steps of the hotel. In the presence of other soldiers, Neligan began to beat up Murphy at the bottom of the steps and then shot the prisoner. In her book, ‘Tragedies of Kerry’, Dorothy Macardle says that Murphy lived ‘until the priest came’, but died shortly after.

Another prisoner was in custody in the hotel at the time. Con O’Leary from Glenflesk was brought down from his cell to identify the dead man. But so extensive were Murphy’s facial injuries that O’Leary was unable to identify his fellow prisoner.

Newspaper reports wrongly reported that Murphy had been wounded during the engagement at Brennan’s Glen and had ‘succumbed to his injuries’ on returning to Killarney.

At Murphy’s inquest which was held a fortnight later, General Paddy O’Daly, the head of the Kerry Command, sympathised with Murphy’s family but insisted that Murphy had died in the ambush at Brennan’s Glen. He said his soldiers had done ‘everything humanly possible for the man’.

He reminded those present that deaths like Murphy’s were the fault of reckless IRA leaders who refused to accept the authority of the people. ‘It is the women and children’, he said, ‘that are suffering, and for all the suffering that is being endured those leaders are to blame’.

It would not be the last time that O’Daly and senior army officers in Kerry would cover up the actions of their soldiers in the county. Nor, sadly, would it be the last time that young men, on both sides of the divide, joined the long list of victims of the Civil War in the county.

Owen O’Shea’s new book, ‘No Middle Path: The Civil War in Kerry’ will be published by Merrion Press in mid-October and can be pre-ordered now on Amazon and at www.owenoshea.ie.

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