Remembering Galbertstown G.A.A. Club (1954-61)

Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1999, p 53


You may talk about legends and heroes
And of men of great fame and renown
But come listen well to the story I tell
Of the hurlers of Galberstown. 
Their names are not heard in high places
And they’re not in the Hall of Fame
They were solid and strong and they seldom did wrong
When they played the Great Hurling Game.


This is the first verse of a song composed by Margaret Heaphy to commemorate the hurlers of Galbertstown on the occasion of the unveiling of a memorial to their memories at Volkes Cross in Galbertstown on September 6, 1998. Not only did she write the song but she also sang it splendidly on the occasion. It was in fact her first venture into song writing and she wrote it in a fortnight. She had a personal interest in the commemoration as a number of her brothers were involved with the club.

The impressive monument is of Killough limestone, on which are cut the names of the officers and players of the club, and it is set in a wall built with stones taken from the house of Molly, and the late Bill Flanagan, which was used by the players for togging out. The unique stonework is a tribute to Galbertstown native, Donie Fogarty, now living in Ballagh.

The club had its origins at a meeting of local people after a Stations Mass in 1954. At that stage Galbertstown was in the parish of Moycarkey-Borris (it transferred to Holycross-Ballycahill in the early seventies) and it was a long distance to the G.A.A. pitch in Littleton. There were a lot of hurlers in the area and it was believed that a separate club was necessary to cater for their needs. The club was affiliated to the mid board in the same year and the players met for the first year in the late Bill Flanagan’s field and for the remaining six years of their existence in the field of the late Johnny Shanahan. The founding members were Michael McCormack, John Flanagan (M), Brian Shanahan, Michael Spillane, Johnny Shanahan and John Maher.

The colour chosen by the club was white and it was known as the lily white of Galbertstown. It was remarked on the evening of the unveiling how significant it was that the real Lily Whites should be making history when Galbertstown was being remembered. The club didn’t have any success. Its best achievement was getting to a mid junior final. Two players from the club did achieve success with the county. Michael Lonergan was on the county All-Ireland panel in 1964 and John Flanagan won a medal in 1971. One team photograph was taken and it was incorporated in the memorial.

The monument was the culmination of about twelve months’ work by the local organising committee of some forty enthusiasts. The officers are - Chairman: Johnny Flanagan; Secretary: Raymond Flanagan; Treasurer: Conor Spillane; Assistant Treasurer: Donie Shanahan; Vice-chairman: Jim Flanagan; Assistant Secretary: Paggy Shanahan. In fact so great was the enthusiasm and so successful the fund-raising that the job was completed much more quickly than originally envisaged. Much research was done into the history of the club and the committee hope to bring this out in book form in the near future.

It was a great occasion for the people of Galbertstown and an opportunity for them to reveal pride in their place and their history. The guest speaker was Tomas O Baroid, Runai, Tipperary County Board. The chief concelebrant of the Mass was Fr. Liam Ryan, whose brother, Michael, had played with Galbertstown. He was assisted by Fr. Tom Breen, Fr. Richard Ryan and Fr. Paudie Moloughney. To commemorate the great occasion the Offertory Procession was a special one. Many items associated with the club, which are preserved to this day, were presented. The monument was unveiled by Jim Cormack, the oldest man in Galbertstown, and John Shanahan, son of Paggy and the late John Joe Shanahan. The Master of Ceremonies was Raymond Flanagan and the Moycarkey-Borris Pipe Band were on duty and concluded the proceedings with Amhran na bhFiann. At a function in Kevin Ryan’s of Holycross afterwards, plaques were presented to former members and players or their representatives.

They were men of might and of splendour
They were heroes of renown
And we’ll never again see the likes of those men
The Hurlers of Galbertstown.