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The Early Days
The establishment of Erins Own grounds and complex at Caherlag could not have been a more fitting tribute to the men who kept our National games alive during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was here in Caherlag that much history had preceded both past and present day administrators. The ancient poets of Carraig Na bhFear wrote prior to the seventeen hundreds about the game called “Goaling”. “Caherlag’s men reign supreme”. It is well to recall some lines from an old war cry of the ancient hurling game in this parish:
Come on Caherlag
And don’t be in dread,
For we are the men
In green and red.
The area in modern times may not hold such importance or indeed prominence (particularly in church affairs) as it did in bygone days, but the establishment of the GA.A. headquarters for our present day Parish of Glounthaune at this location in Caherlag, has brought new life to the area. Of course our games are much older than this period (Eighteenth century), and nationally we even have traditions in our games going back to Cuchulainn.
From the Parish point of view what is relevant is that the official organisation of the association in County Cork took place in Aldermans premises at 27 Maylor Street in Cork in 1887, and clubs from both Little Island and Knockraha were represented. There were 21 teams represented at this historic meeting and a draw was made at this meeting for the first Cork County Championship.
Little Island incidentally were represented by Mr Patrick Scott the local teacher, who in fact was a native of Little Island and born in Clash in November, 1842. Obviously he had a great love for Gaelic games and tried to instil this in his pupils, therefore one can assume that from at least 1860 his pupils played our national games.
The Foundation of the Club -Rogha Eireann-Erins Own.
In the Parish of Glounthaune during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s there were two GAA clubs operating-Knockraha Hurling club, and Little Island Hurling club. Two great traditional areas for Gaelic games ever since the foundation of the Cork County Board in 1887, although they both had periods during the intervening years when they failed to field teams, and other clubs in the Parish took over the mantle, such as Brooklodge, Saint Patrick’s, and Leeside.
In the early 1960’s both clubs were finding it hard to achieve any success at adult level, but there was light at the end of the tunnel in that a juvenile team under the title of Little Island, but which had players from all areas of the Parish was successful in winning the East Cork under 14 hurling championship in 1963.
This gave the far-sighted men involved in running this team the encouragement to consider what the whole Parish might achieve if joined together at adult level. The Parish Priest at this time was Canon McSwiney and he was very anxious that a team representing the Parish of Glounthaune would be forthcoming, and perhaps as he was only recently appointed to the Parish, did not fully realise the rivalry, and deep rooted traditions each area of the parish represented, particularly when it came to our National games.
In hindsight this may not have been a bad thing, as he did some major prompting to encourage a unified approach. The combined committee’s of both clubs got together on the 19th October, 1964, and the historic decision was made to amalgamate. There were some serious discussions about the proposed name of the new club, and eventually by way of compromise the name Rogha Eireann was chosen over Glenmore.
Unfortunately, Canon McSwiney was not a bit happy that the name Glounthaune was not chosen, but even he could not overcome the deep rooted rivalry which existed in earlier times between all four areas of the Parish. The first meeting of the new club was held on the 14th January,1965, and Tim Sheehan from Little Island was the first Chairman appointed. It took six years before a Rogha Eireann team managed to win a first round Junior Hurling Championship tie in East Cork.
It is a matter of history now that this losing sequence was to change very much over the next forty-five years. For the record the first team to represent the club in an East Cork Championship lined out as follows in 1965:
D.D.Sheehan,(Little Island): Anthony O’Donovan,(Richmond): Michael O’Flynn, (Little Island): Charlie Nicholl,(Little Island): Liam Dunlea,(Little Island): Tim Buckley,(Knockraha),: Deny Murphy, (Glounthaune):Tom O’Connor, (Little Island): Coleman Dillon,(Glounthaune): Tom Fitzgerald,(Knockraha): Pat Murphy, (Little Island): Liam Harris,(Little Island): Derry O’Leary (Little Island): Charlie Cremin,(Knockraha): Vincent Dillon, (Glounthaune).
The Early Years
We had very little success at adult level in our early years after our first season in 1964 and as already mentioned it was six years before we got through the first round of the East Cork Junior championship. Finally in 1970 we had our first major success when we won the East Cork U21 Hurling Championship in Riverstown against Cobh by a two point margin. As often happens the young men on that team laid the foundations for further success which eventually came during the seventies, and the eighties.
The under 21 victory in 1970 was quickly followed in 1971 by winning the Junior Hurling league of East Cork. There was of course a major overlap between the two teams. The league was always considered a major competition in those days, and the finalists were Castlelyons andd ourselves. There was no doubt about the result we won by 10-8 to 3-3. Our first Junior trophy.
It was 1978 before we had our own field in Caherlag, prior to that we depended on the generosity of local farmers, and also on Little Island Engineering who made some ground available to the club on Little Island. In other words the facilities that we know to-day were non-existent when Erins Own was established.
Eventually as a result of the dedication of its members, and sheer hard work both on and off the field, the club has reached the point where it is to-day. Whilst we are justifiably proud of what has been achieved on the field, and these are detailed in our roll of honour, we are just as proud of the facilities which we provide at Caherlag, and especially confident that we can cater for all age groups both male and female, who may wish to take part in our national games.
Like most GA.A. clubs in the country, we like to stress our parish identity, and ethos. Therefore we invite and encourage all the residents of this parish of ours to join their local parish based club. We constantly canvass support from our four parish primary schools, Brooklodge, Knockraha, Glounthaune, and Little Island, and do our best to support them to foster our Gaelic games, through our school liaison officer, and coaching scheme, and in any other way we can.
We are constantly encouraged by the support that we get in the club from all these schools, through the principals and staff, for which support we areextremely grateful. We can assure all the residents of this ancient parish of Caherlag/Glounthaune, and particularly the more recent arrivals to the area, that you are all very welcome to join us in our home at Caherlag, and see the facilities for yourselves.