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The Caseys of Sneem

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As you enter Sneem from Killarney you are met with the imposing lifesize monument erected in memory of Steve Casey, a world champion from a family of champions. Weeshie Fogarty did a fine Terrace Talk programme on Steve and on his six other brothers, also world champions. Thirty years ago this summer, the Sneem Regatta in Kerry hosted a final reunion on home water of what was arguably the greatest Irish sporting family of all time.

They were called the Casey brothers. There were seven of them in total: Steve, Paddy, Jack, Jim, Mick, Tom and Dan. And to suggest they were Ireland’s greatest sporting siblings may, if anything, be an understatement. They were also once dubbed, not without justification, “the toughest family on earth”.

Sheer size was one of their main attributes, and it was hereditary on both sides. Their father was Big Mick Casey, a bare-knuckle boxer who in his youth had sparred with John L Sullivan. Their mother was Brigid Sullivan, from a family known around Sneem as The Mountains.

But the seven sons had finesse as well as physique. The 1983 reunion (of the five who could still travel) was in a rowing boat, the stage on which they most excelled as a group. They were among the greatest oarsmen of their generation, although that sport was also the source of their greatest disappointment.

As a collective, they also excelled in tug-of-war. But it was in the individual discipline of wrestling, perhaps, that they reached their highest level. And the brother who scaled the final summit was Steve, or as he was known in a sport where nicknames were obligatory, Crusher Casey.

For several years from the late 1930s, Steve Casey – 6’4” and 17 stone – held the most authentic version of the world heavyweight wrestling championship, thanks partly to his trademark move, the Killarney Flip.

Among his rivals, incidentally, was a fellow countryman Danno O’Mahoney whose signature was the Irish Whip. Their first meeting was a draw. But, in a rematch-to-the-finish, the Flip outmanoeuvred the Whip after an epic 18 rounds and 97 minutes.

Not content with wrestling supremacy, however, Casey was also a formidable boxer. He beat the US champion, then challenged Joe Louis for the world title. When Louis didn’t pick up the gauntlet, the New York Post taunted: “Even the greatest run scared of the Sneem Machine”.

Crusher was not the only Casey to excel at wrestling. His younger brother Paddy was a three-time All-Ireland champion and probably destined for greater things when he broke his back during a bout in 1938.

He won that fight anyway, but the injury curtailed further ambitions and he was better known in later years for operating a string of Irish clubs in London: the Glocamorra, the Shamrock, and the Inisfree. Another Casey, Mick, fought 200 wrestling bouts, despite being the only brother never to leave Sneem.

But back to rowing, the sport in which the family first established their legend in the early 1930s. A measure of their collective talents was when five of them combined to win the Lakes of Killarney Salters Cup, in perpetuity, somewhat to the chagrin of the organisers.

The rule was that if you won three years running, the trophy was yours. After they triumphed in 1930 and 1931, however, there was no 1932 competition. So when they won again in 1933, they were first told that the victories had to be consecutive. Not surprisingly, the brothers won the argument and kept the cup, despite the organisers offering £60 to buy it back.

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Training day for junior rowers

By Michelle Crean Junior members of Muckross Rowing Club were delighted to take part in a training day recently to fine tune their skills for upcoming events. Beginner to Junior 18 members competed in 19 races. The 500m sprints were held in octuples, quads and doubles. “Taking part in this sprint regatta will help Junior […]

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By Michelle Crean

Junior members of Muckross Rowing Club were delighted to take part in a training day recently to fine tune their skills for upcoming events.

Beginner to Junior 18 members competed in 19 races. The 500m sprints were held in octuples, quads and doubles.

“Taking part in this sprint regatta will help Junior Members prepare for upcoming regattas which are hoped to take place this summer,” Shóna O’Sullivan said.

“Those racing were cheered on by their fellow team mates at the Garden Quays. The races were exciting to watch, especially the races that ended in a photo finish.”

The competitors refuelled with a barbecue cooked by Bernie and Seamus O’Sullivan, she added.

“Thanks to Bernie, Seamus, all coaches and committee members that helped this training session run successfully in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.”

On the same day Seán Daly Chairperson of Muckross Rowing Club presented Jane and Lila Ryan with Honorary Associated Membership for their generous contribution of €500 to the club.

“Our rowing club are extremely grateful for their generosity.”

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Hike up Strickeen Mountain for air ambulance

  Locals and visitors are being invited to join a guided ascent of Strickeen Mountain on July 4 to raise funds for the Irish Community Air Ambulance. The hike, described as an easy to moderate climb and family friendly well be led by Killarney-based Irish Community Air Ambulance volunteer and tour guide Krzysztof Szwab. It […]

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Locals and visitors are being invited to join a guided ascent of Strickeen Mountain on July 4 to raise funds for the Irish Community Air Ambulance.

The hike, described as an easy to moderate climb and family friendly well be led by Killarney-based Irish Community Air Ambulance volunteer and tour guide Krzysztof Szwab.

It is expected that the 7.5km hike will take around three hours to complete and participants will benefit from the expertise of Krzysztof for a minimum donation €10 per person or €20 per family.

Strickeen Mountain is the eastern most peak of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and the hike will start from the Gap of Dunloe at 11am on the day.

As an added bonus fruit and water, donated by local supermarkets including Lidl, Aldi and Daly’s SuperValu, will be provided. The first 20 to register will receive a limited edition Irish Community Air Ambulance face covering snood.

“This is an ideal opportunity for someone who has never climbed this mountain, but wants to do it with the help of an experienced guide,” Donie Lucey, who is one of the Irish Community Air Ambulance’s chief fundraisers, said.

Further details are available from Donie on 086 854 5873 or from Krzysztof on 087 7589697 after 6pm.

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Golf club launches Summer Series competition

By Sean Moriarty Competitive golfing has resumed at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club marking another step towards normality in the locality. The O’Mahony’s Point course hosted an open singles event on Monday last and this competition will continue every Monday for the rest of the summer. Meanwhile the club’s ‘TaylorMade’ Summer Series gets underway at […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Competitive golfing has resumed at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club marking another step towards normality in the locality.

The O’Mahony’s Point course hosted an open singles event on Monday last and this competition will continue every Monday for the rest of the summer.

Meanwhile the club’s ‘TaylorMade’ Summer Series gets underway at the famed Killeen course this coming Wednesday (June 23). This series will continue every Wednesday for eight weeks and top five scorers on each date will qualify for a Grand Final which is scheduled for Sunday, August 22.

“We are delighted to launch the ‘TaylorMade’ Summer Series. This is a singles stableford event taking place on the Irish Open course, Killeen,” said the club’s marketing manager Meg Dalton. “With over €8,000 worth of prizes to be won, this is an event not to be missed. The first opportunity to qualify for the grand final is Wednesday.”

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