THE old handball alley in Tuam before it was transformed into a modern woodwork building. Photo: Ray Ryan

Ball alley days in the Tuam of the 1960s

By Brian McGrath
I OFTEN wonder how many football All-Irelands were and still are won and lost against the gable ends of houses? Millions, I would warrant. Back in 1963 when I was ten I played that year’s All-Ireland football final between Galway and Dublin hundreds of times against the gable end of our house in Newtownmorris, Bishop Street, Tuam.
Our local hero and Galway captain that year, Mick Garrett, was always the star. My imagination always changed the result too.
It was against gable ends and local high walls that we also picked up the basics of handball. Initially it was from watching the big lads playing and then having a go ourselves.
The article and pictures in a recent Tuam Herald describing the transformation of the St Jarlath’s College alley caught me on the hop, so to speak. I had not the faintest inkling that such a metamorphosis was underway, not to mind completed.
 I remember it well as the magnificent alley that it was in its day. In the 1960s mid-summers when exams were finished and the boarders were gone home the alley and tennis courts opened up to us town lads and girls. We were all trespassing, of course, but in those summer months the priests took a benign view of invaders.
Read the full article in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald

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