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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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Local soprano releases new single

Local soprano Mary Culloty O’Sullivan has released her second self-penned single. Following the success of her debut song ‘Forever and a Day’ which was released on July 16 and was aired on radio stations all over the world and on streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube and iTunes, her second single was released last Friday. ‘Before […]

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Local soprano Mary Culloty O’Sullivan has released her second self-penned single.

Following the success of her debut song ‘Forever and a Day’ which was released on July 16 and was aired on radio stations all over the world and on streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube and iTunes, her second single was released last Friday.

‘Before You Leave Me’ has a Jazz influence. Mary has been writing her own songs since March this year covering several different genres.

“Tony O’Flaherty of Sonas Studios has brought my songs to life and I am delighted with the production on the songs,” Mary told the Killarney Advertiser.

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Fun Urban Orienteering event coming to Killarney town

The event is free, open to all ages, levels of fitness and is both wheelchair and buggy friendly.Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership are calling on you, to get out and #BeActive as part of European Week of Sport 2021, which runs from September 23 to 30. Sport Ireland, the national coordinating body for European Week of Sport in […]

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The event is free, open to all ages, levels of fitness and is both wheelchair and buggy friendly.
Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership are calling on you, to get out and #BeActive as part of European Week of Sport 2021, which runs from September 23 to 30.

Sport Ireland, the national coordinating body for European Week of Sport in Ireland hope that this year’s event will inspire even more people than previous years and has funded multiple flagship as well as local events run by the Network of Local Sports Partnerships, including this ‘Family Street Orienteering Kerry’ event.

“This free event looks to offer everyone an opportunity the get out and be active and maybe try something new,” Gearóid O Doherty, the Coordinator of Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership said. 

“Urban Orienteering is an activity that you can do on your own or with your family and friends. You get to challenge yourself a little and still go at a pace that suits you – and what a beautiful location to do it all in, Killarney town!

“With many people possibly new to the Kerry region, be that through work, college or otherwise, this is an ideal way to get involved in the community and explore the streets and lanes of Killarney in a fun and active way.”

The Kerry Orienteers Club have designed the courses for this event and are looking forward to the excitement of it all and helping those new to the sport to continue taking part in the months and years that follow.

“We know that, for a lot of people, this will be their first time trying orienteering, but they can rest assured, as we will be there to talk them through it and help them out if needed,” Brendan O’Brien from Kerry Orienteers said.

“If it is something they want to try again, we can signpost them to other events, both locally here in Kerry and indeed nationally. Orienteering is a fantastic sport that allows you to build your skills and confidence, with all events having a variety of routes to cater for all levels.”

To cater for physical distancing and government guidelines, there are several staggered start times for participants to choose from, beginning at 6pm and the last group heading off at 7.30pm. With free t-shirts for all who sign up and additional workshops onsite, from the likes of Leave No Trace Ireland, it is sure to be a fun and vibrant evening, all stemming from the start point at ANAM – Killarney’s Arts and Culture Centre.

Places are limited for this event. Free online registration is available and those looking to attend are encouraged to book their place early to avoid disappointment.

For more information, you can visit any of the Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership social media accounts or go to www.sportireland.ie.

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