Sean MacCumhaill
MacCumahills are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year! If you would like to make a contrubition in any way, either by an idea or helping out to organise the parade, please contact:
Penny - 074-9131673

Tragically on the 16th August 1916, while practising for a game to be played later that day in Stranorlar, one player, Pauric McGinty, lost his life while trying to retrieve a football from the River Finn. It is known that Pauric McGinty, Henry McGowan, Paddy Duffy, Michael Duffy and some others brought Gaelic football to life in the Twin Towns around the year 1916.

Some months later it was decided to form a Club and the first G.A.A. Club formed in this parish was the Ballybofey "Eire Ogs" : A keen but friendly rivalry existed between the players of the Twin Towns, so it was not surprising that almost immediately afterwards, Vincent Laverty, Jim Boyle and Denis 0'Kane met in Coyle's Bakery, Stranorlar and started "Stranorlar Sarsfields" : That was 84 years ago, back in 1917. During all those years the Association locally had its successes and reverses - its fat and lean years
- but the continuity was never broken. Steady progress was made by both clubs in picking up the then unfamiliar Gaelic code.

Both teams took part in the Finn Valley League - a competition organised by the late Denis Gallagher N.T., Tievebrack. Eire Ogs ran out winners of this League. It was surely to be a hectic battle in those days when the local rivals met. Eventually, however, experience showed that there was not sufficient material in the parish for two senior teams, and steps were taken to form one club, which would be responsible for all Gaelic activities in the parish. In October 1926, at a joint meeting of the two clubs a new club with the name "Erin's Hope", was formed. The "Hopes" became a well-known combination in county G.A.A. circles.

The first trophy won by Erin's Hope was the Dr. McGinley Cup. In a stirring final, played at Convoy, in 1932, the "Hopes" prevailed by a narrow margin. In 1940 they again won this cup. The junior team has twice brought County Championship honours to the towns in 1932 and 1944. The McCloskey Cup was, therefore, the second cup to be won by the Club. In the Democrat Cup final in 1942 the Senior team were narrowly defeated by Gweedore, after beating Ballyshannon in the semi-final. In their first appearance in the Senior Championship (Dr. Maguire Cup) against Dungloe, at Glenties, in 1930, the "Hopes" were unluckily beaten after a pulsating struggle with the honours in the balance to the final whistle. On their only other appearance in the County Final they were again beaten by Dungloe at Magheragallon.

In 1926, the club formed a hurling team - the first time the game was introduced to the parish - and the records show the following motion for that year : "That a hurling team be entered for the 1927-28 championship" : Unfortunately the hurling team lapsed after a short existence. In Camogie the parish had at times a team that could hold its own with the best. The Club had no permanent playing field until a Park was acquired at Drumboe. Plans were then made to acquire a more centrally situated park in Ballybofey. It was felt that Drumboe was too far from the towns to encourage the youth to practice.

Sean MacCumhaill's Funeral through Stranorlar
In the Graveyard

In 1944, Ben Griffin and Sean MacCumhaill made an offer to Mark Byrne to buy a field which was within the town boundary of Ballybofey, but at the time the owner was unwilling to sell. In 1946, as part of the 'Civic Week' celebrations in the Twin Towns a friendly match between Sligo and Donegal was held in Mark Byrne's field. As this proved to be a great success, a Park Committee was formed and the field was finally secured for the GAA. On Sunday 1st. May 1949, Sean MacCumhaill died suddenly in Donegal Hospital and the following Tuesday, after the funeral service, his coffin was borne through Stranorlar to the old graveyard.. "Sean MacCumhaill was an extraordinary man" said Fr. Gallagher at the funeral, "he never once flinched from the ideals he had set for himself, he was an honest, God fearing Irishman." Soon after that it was decided that the new Park would be known as Sean MacCumhaill Park. On Sunday, 22nd April 1956, the well equipped MacCumhaill Park was officially opened by the President of the GAA, and a plaque to the memory of the late Sean MacCumhaill was unveiled at the main gate. The name of the Club was also changed from "Erin's Hope" to "MacCumhaills".

In 1957 Camogie was revived in Stranorlar when "St. Theresa's" club was formed and in that same year the team beat Castlefin in the Co. Donegal Junior final.

In 1959, MacCumhaill's were presented with the Dr. Maguire Cup when they became the Senior Football Champions on beating Kilcar. MacCumhaill's now created headlines like:

  • "Flashing MacCumhaill's Sweep to First Senior League Win"-1961
  • "MacCumhaill's Topple Champions" - 1961
  • "MacCumhaill's Supreme in Football Inferno" - 1962
  • "Club of the Year" - 1962
  • "MacCumhaill's Retain Donegal Senior Football Crown" - 1963
  • "MacCumhaill's Take Fourth Donegal Title" - 1964
  • "McCool's Win League Final in Thriller" - 1965
  • "Ballybofey win Dromore Tourney Final" 1966
  • "MacCool's coast to 19 point win over Carn" - 1966

We wish to acknowledge information taken from an article written in 1946 by Sean Mac Cumhaill and from the book, "Golden Memories" by Joe Crawford and Dan McCool.

More detailed accounts of the history of the early 1900's, in the Ballybofey and Stranorlar area, together with a large number in historical photographs may be seen in the book "Golden Memories" which is available in local bookshops (http://www.finnvalley.ie/thebookcentre/).

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