From 'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyage’ by Turtle Bunbury (MPG, 2008).
Football has long been one of Ringsend’s strong points. One of Ireland’s earliest clubs was the Pembroke Club, founded by bottle blowers from Ringsend in the 1890s. They started work half an hour early at 5:30am in order to finish at lunchtime on Saturdays so they could play football in the afternoon. Today, locals play ball in the Sean Moore Park, South Dock Park and the ESB Sportsco. The area is the birthplace of two of Ireland’s greatest clubs, Shelbourne FC and the Shamrock Rovers, as well as some celebrated 20th century players. In 2004, the Docklands Authority helped renovate the old stadium in Ringsend Park into ‘Irishtown Stadium’, complete with a floodlit 400m athletics track and five floodlit, all-weather, five-a-side football pitches.
SHELBOURNE FOOTBALL CLUB
Cumann Peile Shelbourne
Shelbourne FC was founded in a Ringsend pub in 1895 by seven men who tossed a coin beneath the Bath Avenue DART bridge to establish the club name. Heads for ‘Shelbourne’, tails for ‘Bath’. Home games were initially played on a waste patch of land (M'Lady's Field) near Lansdowne Road. The club quickly made its presence felt by reaching the Leinster Senior Cup final in 1896. Ten years later, Shelbourne beat Belfast Celtic 2-0 to become the first Dublin team to win the Irish League final. The Evening Herald reported on tar barrels and bonfires blazing across Ringsend and Sandymount that night as the Irish Cup was paraded around the district. The following year Shelbourne played Bohemians in a charity match that raised more than £100 for the building of a new Catholic Church in Ringsend.
SHAMROCK ROVERS FOOTBALL CLUB
(Cumann Peile Ruagairí na Seamróige)
Ireland’s most successful football club was founded at 4 Irishtown Road in 1901. The second meeting took place around the corner on Shamrock Avenue and so the name was born. In 1905 the Ringsend men won their first piece of silverware when crowned County Dublin League winners. From the early 1926 until 1987 they played at Glenmalure Park, Milltown and became Ireland's most successful club. Shamrock Rovers, also known as ‘the Hoops’, have won more FAI Cups (24) and leagues (16) than any other Irish club. They plan to play their home games in the Tallaght Stadium during the 2009 season.
JIMMY DUNNE (1905 – 1949)
Legendary striker Jimmy Dunne was one of the first Irishman to figure prominently in the English League. During the 1930–31 season, the Ringsend man scored 41 league goals for Sheffield United, including a hat-trick of headers against Portsmouth. He was also a dual internationalist and played for both Ireland teams - the FAI XI and the IFA XI. Idolised by Irish fans, he played for Arsenal during the 1930s before finishing his career at Shamrock Rovers. In 1949, he died suddenly of a heart attack aged just 44. His son Tommy played for Shamrock Rovers while his nephew Christy Doyle played for the Republic of Ireland.
BOB FULLAM (1897 –1974)
Bob Fullam was a Ringsend docker who was so good with his feet that he became the ‘Golden Boot’ of his generation. He played for Shelbourne FC from 1918 to 1921, winning the Irish Cup in 1920, before transferring to Shamrock Rovers. His temper frequently got the better of him, such as during the inaugural Free State Cup final in 1922 when he was banned for the start of the following season. Despite this, he finished up top scorer of 1922 with 27 goals in 22 games. He twice played for the Irish Free State, scoring the country’s first ever international goal against Italy at Lansdowne Road in 1926. ‘Give it to Bob’ duly became a Dublin catchphrase.
DERMOT J. GALLAGHER (BORN 1957)
The Ringsend-born referee was one of the best-known arbitrators in England’s Premier League, officiating at 378 games between 1992 and his retirement in 2007. The last Premier League fixture that he refereed was a 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Charlton Athletic in May 2007. He was also a FIFA referee from 1994 to 2002. Throughout 2008, Gallagher has been the official referee for The Legends on ITV.
VAL HARRIS (1884 – 1963)
Valentine ‘Val’ Harris (b. 1884) was an Irish footballer who played Gaelic football for Dublin and soccer for, among others Shelbourne, Everton and Ireland. An extremely versatile player, he began playing with junior clubs Emeralds and Pembroke, helping the latter reach the 1898 Leinster Junior Cup Final. A consummate Gaelic footballer, he won honours at club level with Ringsend GAA team Isles of the Sea and, in 1901, won an All- Ireland medal with Dublin. He successfully switched codes to soccer and, in 1906, he captained Shelbourne when they won the Irish Cup finals. He remains the clubs most capped player. In 1913 he captained the first Ireland team to beat England. In 1939 he coached Shelbourne to their first victory in the FAI Cup.
CLANNA GAEL FONTENOY GAA CLUB
The Fontenoys were founded in 1887 at 20 Bath Avenue. They took the name from a small Belgian town of Fontenoy where, in 1745, the Irish Brigade led the French army to a famous victory over the British and Dutch forces. The Gaelic Football team did not have an auspicious start. In their first ever match, they scored the first point but didn’t score again and were hammered by 1-15 to 0-1. The hurling team were in motion by 1901 when the ‘Freeman’s Journal’ advised members to meet at their practice grounds at Londonbridge Road. The first game played at Ringsend Park took place on 14th May 1910. The Ringsend men are the only GAA club inside Dublin 4, and also field intermediate football, hurling and camogie teams, as well as 22 juvenile teams. The new floodlit grounds at Sean Moore Park opened with a senior football challenge match between Dublin and Monaghan in March 2008.
OTHER SOUTHSIDE GAA CLUBS
The juvenile Michael Dwyer G.F.C. was formed in Ringsend in 1891 with Tom Knott of Bath Street as club secretary. Erins Isle G.F.C. was founded in Ringsend in the early 1900s with Thomas Condron, 30 Irishtown Road as club secretary. One of the bigger clubs was Saint Andrews, founded in the Pearse Street-Ringsend area in 1906. The Club competed in Junior football competitions but was disbanded just before the 1916 Rising when many of the players joined Peader Mackens. The Shamrock G.F.C. was founded in 1887 in the Denzille (Fenian) Street district but failed to survive the Parnell split. This short-lived Hillside Club was founded at a meeting in 4 Sandwith Street in January 1893 and based in the Westland Row district
ROW YOUR BOAT
Ringsend also has a strong tradition of rowing, with two clubs St. Patrick's and Stella Maris located here and the annual Ringsend Regatta. Dublin University Boat Club also traces its origins to Ringsend where it was founded as the Pembroke Club in 1836. Supported by the Docklands Authority, the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club have completed a state-of-the-art 100-berth marina at the foot of the towering stacks of Poolbeg Power station. The club’s busy calendar includes an eighteen-race sailing series in Dublin Bay every summer.
In 1989 the old Hammond Lane foundry on Thorncastle Street was converted into the Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre, now one of the chief focal points of the village, both for newcomers and for those whose families have lived here for many long generations. The Centre’s provisions include crèche facilities, computer training, a daycare centre and lessons in karate, drama and dancing. Indeed, the Centre’s Collide Dance Academy were the All-Ireland IDTA Hip-Hop and freestyle Champions of 2008, while the Under 16s won the Classical Ballet category at the National Dance Awards 2008. The Ringsend Community Training Centre has been focused on helping the marginalised, disadvantaged and single parents to discover their potential and, wherever possible, to return to education and training and so find employment.
Michal, this could be a fact-box…
FRAN ROONEY (B. 1956)
Controversial businessmen Fran Rooney was born in Ringsend in 1956. He shot to fame in 1996 when he teamed up with Dermot Desmond and Michael Smurfit to acquire Baltimore Technologies. As the company CEO, he oversaw a boom that arguably peaked in 1998 when Bill Clinton and Bertie Ahern used Baltimore's technology to sign an Electronic Commerce deal. In 2000 Rooney received the Businessman of the Year award. However, Baltimore’s stock plummeted during the dot-com crash and Rooney left in July 2001. Two years later, he became CEO of the Football Association of Ireland. In younger years, he played for Shamrock Rovers. He also managed the Irish Women’s National Team from 1986 - 1992. He is currently Executive Chairman and major shareholder of ICE Broadband.