Situated In The Middle Of West Cork, Doheny's G.A.A. Club, Dunmanway, commemorates A Tipperary Fenian
Dohenys G.A.A. Club based in the heartland of West Cork is named after a 19th century Fethard, Co. Tipperary gentleman with very little native connection to the town. Michael Doheny was an Irish Fenian on the run, accompanied by another famous Fenian, Kilkenny man James Stephens.
Doheny had an acquaintance who lived in Dunmanway around 1847 and the Tipperary man was looking for a place to hide for himself and Stephens to plot an escape to France. The two men had walked from Mount Mellary, near Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, over mountains and pathways, before landing in Dunmanway after a 150 mile trek. Michael Doheny was then 42 years old.
On arrival in Dunmanway the friend was not at home but luck was on both men’s side. They met the friend’s daughter and she recognised Michael Doheny from a previous meeting several years before this encounter. She took both men into her home, fed them and they got some rest to sleep the toils of their awesome journey to Dunmanway
Both Doheny and Stephens stayed around the locality for a few weeks moving from one safe house to another. Finally word was on the street that the R.I.C. had become aware, that two strangers from out of town were in their midst. Doheny and Stephens decided it was time to move on again but where could they go unannounced.
Out on the western countryside of Dunmanway where they were in hiding, it was decided to check out the Killarney scenery and again it was by hob nail boots that both men made for over mountains and bumpy roads, until they finally reached Killarney after travelling via Gougane Barra.
At the tail end of their Killarney visit, both men decided to get back to Dunmanway once more and finally arrange their exit from Ireland. This time they resided in the Coolmountain area, about six miles from the town. Again the friends daughter was instrumental in setting up their base and also their eventual escape.
With the assistance of several West Cork Fenians, male and female, a plan was hatched to get both men to Cork City. James Stephens was first to escape, followed some weeks later by Michael Doheny, who left Cork port on a ship bound for Bristol, England.
From Bristol Doheny made his way to Paris and there he joined up with James Stephens before plotting their onward journey to New York.
Some time later Doheny’s wife and children also made their way from their Cashel home to Paris.In mid November 1848 the Dohenys sailed from Le Havre, France, and after a very stormy crossing, they reached New York on 23rd January 1849.
In New York Michael Doheny wasted no time in resuming his nationalist ideals, took up work as a Lawyer and was also involved in the setting up of several Irish American groups to assist the Irish struggle for independence.
In April 1862 tragedy struck for the Doheny family. Michael Doheny, man of many endless travels, died suddenly from a fever and was buried at Calvary Cemetry, New York.
Michael Cusack didn’t set up the Gaelic Athletic Association until 1884 and it is notable that when the people of Dunmanway decided to set up their own G.A.A. Club in 1886, they chose the name of a Tipperary man, Michael Doheny, whose only connection with the town was as profiled herein.
Dunmanway, the home of the Dohenys G.A.A. Club, is situated 38 miles west of Cork city, where the land becomes rugged and mountains dominate the skyline. It is here that the club was founded away back in 1886 when the G.A.A was in its infancy.
The first chairman of the club was a local national school teacher, John McCarthy, while the first secretary was Richard Hayes. The club attended the first meeting of the Cork County Board and became the first affiliated club in West Cork.
The official name adopted by the club was the Michael Doheny Football Club.
In 1897 the club established a very solid foundation when it won the Cork senior football championship by defeating Wolf Tones of Kanturk in the final. The team, captained by Danny Rick O' Donovan of the Shamrock Bar, won its way through Munster but was defeated by Kickhams of Dublin in the All-Ireland final at Jones’ Road, a game played in February 1899.
Although defeated, this team established a tradition, which has stood well to the club over the years and guaranteed its survival during difficult times in the upcoming years.
In its 131 years history the club has played a significant role in the affairs of the G.A.A. both in West Cork and the County. Although no further senior title has been won, the club has won county intermediate football titles in 1972 and 1995 and county junior football titles in 1935, 1966 and 1993.
Its under-age teams have won county titles in U16 football in 1999, Under 18 hurling in 2003, and U14 hurling in 2001 U13 and U15 football titles in 2011. Many West Cork titles at all levels, in both football and hurling, have also been achieved.
In 2017 the club's top football team is competing at senior level and the club reached the semi-final of the 2005 county championship where they were defeated by Muskerry.
They reached the county final in 2006 and were defeated by Nemo Rangers. The junior ‘B’ hurlers were county and Munster champions in 2006.
Over the years the club has provided a number of players to the Cork senior football team. Most notable of these were Liam Grainger and John Dullea in the 1930's, Jim and Eamonn Young in the 1940's, Denis Bernard in the 1950's, Johnny Carroll and John Crowley in the 1960's, Seamus O' Sullivan and Colman O‘Rourke in the 1970's, and Mark Farr and Micheal O'Donovan in more recent times. In 2000 John Collins and Paul Deane were on the Cork minor football team,which won the All-Ireland.
The club's under-age teams play under the name of Sam Maguires. In the west Cork division of Carbery, the club have been particularly successful with many West Cork titles being won in both football and hurling over the last two decades.
Three county titles have also been won. The club's base is in the Sam Maguire Park, which was acquired from the Sam Maguire Park Memorial Committee in the mid 1950's when it was no more than a farmer's field.
Today it is comprised of two playing pitches, four dressing rooms, a car park, a pavilion, a ball alley and public toilets. Such development over the space of 30 years could not have been possible without the generous financial support of the people of Dunmanway parish and surrounding areas.
This vibrant western club has come a long way in the past 131 years. It is a tribute to the many people who were willing to take up the mantle of responsibility as officers, committee, team mentors and players.
The founding fathers of 1886 would have been proud of the way their ideals have been preserved and promoted.