Hometown shines light on Sam with book
A book detailing the fascinating life of West Cork hero Sam Maguire — a leading light in the London GAA scene and Michael Collins’ right-hand man in that city — has just been published by his home town.
The book, by retired college lecturer Kieran Connolly, has been decades in the making.
Kieran first considered the true significance of Sam Maguire when his Leitrim-based brother-in-law Des Cox expressed amazement on discovering that Maguire was buried in a local cemetery in Dunmanway.
But it took many years before that first spark of interest turned into a book: “I grew up in Dunmanway,” says Kieran, adding that it was only when he saw the reaction of his brother-in-law on hearing that Sam Maguire was buried in the local cemetery that he realised the man’s true national significance.
“Des said that if Sam Maguire was buried in his hometown of Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim, the whole world would know about it!”
That comment was made back in 1971 — but it stayed in Kieran’s head, and many years later, and shortly before he retired from his job as a lecturer in economics and Statistics at Dublin Institute of Technology, he began to research the life of Sam Maguire.
A talented footballer, Maguire emigrated from Dunmanway to London in 1897 and played for a London-based GAA team, rapidly becoming a leading light in the organisation there.
However, he is best known for recruiting Michael Collins into the IRA and then, during the War of Independence, becoming Collins’ main agent in London: “He was involved in smuggling weapons, intercepting communications and managing all the operations in London initiated by Collins,” says Kieran, now retired.
He spent about four years in all, researching the book,
published in paperback by Mercier Press. “The big feature of the book, and what people are most interested in, is the sheer amount of work Maguire carried out for the IRA while living in London, and the fact that, along with Liam McCarthy, he became a leading light in GAA circles in London.”
After returning to Ireland in 1923 to work in the post office service in Dublin, Maguire was fired in December 1924 amid accusations of attempting to organise a mutiny in the Irish Free State army.
“However, he was never allowed a trial or allowed to see the evidence against him, and he returned to Dunmanway, broken and penniless. It was a very sad end to a life of such service and patriotism.” Maguire later died of tuberculosis.
was launched in Dunmanway by local GAA players Johnny Carroll and John Crowley.
At the launch of ‘Sam Maguire: The Man and the Cup, at the Model School, Dunmanway, are, clockwise from above left: Ruth Healy; George Maguire and Jo O’Donovan, relatives of Sam Maguire, with author Kieran Connolly and County Mayor Declan Hurley.
Ruth Healy is all smiles at the launch.
Margaret Cox, John and Deckie Wiseman, County Mayor Declan Hurley and Josephine and Michael McSweeney.
Lorraine Dean, Deputy Michael Collins and Liam Maher at the launch.