Some Snippets from The Rich history of Bray Emmets.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Now that we are reaching the end of 2008 it is appropriate that we look back and remember our past. There are many famous stories and personalities associated with Bray Emmets so as an occasional piece we try and record some for posterity. Thanks to Jackie Napier and Michael O'Byrne who contributed to the following. We would welcome contributions from any others who have any interesting pieces of history.

Bray Emmets has a great history, both on the playing fields and in the administration of the GAA. There have been many individuals who have contributed to this history, and in this issue we remember two great figures, who had strong association with Bray Emmets and who held the top post of President of the GAA. These were Patrick Breen and Hugh Byrne.

Bray Emmets had the honour of winning the 1902 All-Ireland (representing Dublin). On that team was Patrick Breen, a native of Wexford, but selected by Bray Emmets. (At that time the winning County Club had the right to pick from all players within the County). He held the post of President of the GAA from 1924 to 1926.

In more recent times Hugh Byrne held the post of President of the GAA from 1961--1964. Hugh Byrne, who was a native of Rathdangan, taught in St Peters, Bray in the 1930's after graduating from UCD with a BA and an MA and joined Bray Emmets. He won 2 Senior Football championships with Bray Emmets in 1934 and 35 before returning to Rathdangan where he took over as Principal of the National School, replacing his father PJ. He rejoined the local team and played a key role on the 1936 Senior Championship with his 3 brothers Mick, Nick and Paddy. It was ironic that Rathdangan defeated Bray Emmets in the semi final. (An amusing story from that game was that Hugh, having won the ball from the first throw-in inadvertedly kicked the ball into the Rathdangan net thus giving his old club a great start, however it was enough. He went on make a major contribution to the Rathdangan performance during that game). 

In 1936 Wicklow went on to win their first All Ireland Junior Football Final and while Hugh did not make the panel, his brothers Mick and Paddy both won All Ireland medals that year. Hugh went on to become Chairman of the West Board and in 1947 County Chairman, later Chairman of the Leinster Council and a Trustee of the Association culminating in that famous day in the Gresham Hotel in 1961 when he became Wicklow's first President of the GAA. He served in various roles right up to his death in the 90's. His daughter Marcella also a teacher, is a member of Greystones GAA and her husband, Con O' Suilleabhain is the well known Gaelic Correspondent for Greystones. The connection with Bray Emmets continues also as Hugh Byrne's nephew, Michael O'Byrne was the Chairman of Bray Emmets and is a very active mentor of the club.