THE magnificent Dunmore House provides the backdrop to the football game on August 26, 1973. Photo: Courtesy of the Michael Leydon Collection, Dunmore Library.

Dunmore House and the baronet

Connection to Kilconly may have influenced decision to come west

IN AUGUST 1973 a large crowd gathered in the shadow of Dunmore House for a memorable occasion, the official opening of a new pitch, dressing rooms and clubhouse for Co Galway’s oldest GAA club, Dunmore MacHales.

Football was played in Dunmore long before the GAA came into being, but the club did not have an official ground; training and matches were played on a portion of the demesne called the ‘Captain’s’ in front of the 18th century house built by Sir George Shee (1754-1825).

The club’s 20-year campaign to purchase a site from the trustees of the Dunmore Demesne finally paid off and the official opening of the ground was a joyous event.

Dunmore minors had won the Galway minor football title earlier in the day, defeating Carna in a final played in Pearse Stadium, Salthill, and the John C. McHugh Cup awarded in honour of a local man from Roy was presented after the match by Sean Purcell.

Two games played that afternoon marked the formal inauguration of the new ground. Dunmore MacHales faced an All-Star Galway side comprising many members of the victorious 1964 All-Ireland team and this was declared a far more exciting event than the Galway versus Mayo game that followed.

Some remarkable photos taken that day by the late Michael Leyden of the crowd enjoying the football give a rare glimpse of the original features of the house which still survived long after the estate was acquired by the Congested District Board in 1915.

In the intervening years, the roofless house has become derelict and almost lost to view due to encroaching ivy; the sliding sash windows, and beautiful fanlight have not survived, but the fine limestone facade with its unusual bow shaped ends to the gables is still visible.

Dunmore House and its occupants were woven into the fabric of the life of the people of the area for over one hundred years and its history is inextricably linked to the town and its inhabitants…

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