Saturday, 30 July 2016

Granny and the Celtic Camogie Team

Annie Byrne and the Celtic Camogie Team, Coolock (c. 1929-36)

Before she got married, my maternal grandmother, Annie (Byrne) Wynne, played camogie. This is a picture of her taken with the Celtic camogie team. Granny is the first girl on the left, kneeling in the front row. In this picture, she was probably about twenty years old, or maybe a year or two older.

In those days, camogie players wore gym-frocks to their knees, long-sleeved blouses, and a belt around their waists. It certainly does not look like the most comfortable attire for playing in. Granny also wore a polo-neck jumper. She was the goalkeeper, maybe explaining the variation in her uniform.

The Celtic camogie club was established in Coolock, in Co. Dublin, in 1929. Granny was their first captain. She played with the team until she married my grandfather in August 1936. Once she was married, she had to give it up. It was not socially acceptable for married women to play sports in public in Ireland then.

At the time, Coolock was a small village in the countryside, situated on the north side of Dublin. Granny cycled to practice from Jane Place in Dublin city. They practised in a field where the Odeon Cinema now stands. The club did not own the pitch, but the owner gave them permission to play there. There was little funding available for women’s games back then.

Like hurling, which is played by men, camogie is a fast and skilful field sport. Players use a curved wooden stick known as a hurley, and a hard leather ball called a sliothar (pronounced shlit-her).  Both hurling and camogie evolved from ancient Gaelic games played for more than 3,000 years.

Image credit: ‘Granny with her camogie team’, from my cousin Aileen’s collection.

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. I always like seeing young photos of the people I only knew when they were old. I am not familiar with Camogie but this picture makes me think it is like field hockey.

  2. Dara, such a wonderful image, and story to go along with it. Your granny must have been quite a devotee of the sport, to captain the team and to cycle all the way from Jane Place to Coolock. Though I never played camogie — it was field hockey for us — I loved playing with my brother Mike's hurley stick; my dad taught me to hit that leather ball a good long way.

  3. Great photo. Interesting that married women had restrictions on what they were able to do. Like teachers, once upon a time, had to be single women.

  4. What a fun photo and so fun to know what she loved to do! I had never heard of Camogie before.

  5. I love the photo, how nice to have.

  6. Thank you all for your comments. This is the only picture I've seen of my granny as a young woman, so it is precious.


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