Home­town shines light on Sam with book

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Áilín Quin­lan

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.

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