With Ballyconneely the capital of Connemara before and immediately after the Famine with a population of just under five thousand people, it was only natural that games were played at an early date. Some folklore exists of Blake’s Estate competing with other estates in the 1800s. Town-land football was very active at the beginning of the 1900s and also matches played against Clifden. The centre for games at that time was Murlach but moved to Aillebrack Beach and to Mannin Beach at a later date. During the period from the ‘50s to the ‘80s it was not unusual to find in the region of thirty people playing football on a Sunday afternoon. The club St. Caillin’s was officially formed in 1957 and competed for a number of years at football and in the mid 1960s competed in junior hurling also. The club never progressed beyond the West semi-final in either code. The club included players from Roundstone and Cashel. Under the G.A.A. parish rule (one club per parish) introduced in the late 1960s Ballyconneely was amalgamated with Cleggan and Clifden for G.A.A purposes.
There is a photograph of a Ballyconneely under 14 selection which defeated Tuam at Aillebrack Beach in 1971 (includes two Claddaghduff lads) on display in Keogh’s Pub in Ballyconneely.
To listen to Aidan Sweeney tell the story of the Ballyconneely win over Tuam, click on track 29.
Players from Ballyconneely who played for Galway: Michael King (All-Ireland Minor winner), Pat O’Malley (Minor and Under 21 Connacht winner). Pat King (Junior Connacht winner), Ned Keogh (Senior, inter Provincial, winner when member of Oughterard Club), Paddy Griffin (Senior, Waterford and Galway), Eamon McCann (Minor, 2010). Vincent O’Neill (London, Junior). Mícheál McDonough (Minor Hurling).
Footnote: The mother of the current (2010) Galway full-back Finian Hanley is Mary Conneely, a native of Dunloughan, Ballyconneely and Frank Heaney who won a Junior All-Ireland medal with Galway was married to Annie Keaney from Doohulla.
To listen to the folklore and memories of Joe Joyce – press on track, 30 and Tom and Michael King, click on track 31.