When Moore Soared in the Sky


by Nuala Carroll and Des Waters

When James Patrick Moore was born in Argentina on the 25th of September 1875, Charles Stewart Parnell had just been elected M.P. for Co. Meath and was tentatively trying to find his political footing. Dr. T.W. Croke had only recently been installed as Archbishop of Cashel: Pat Nally's little chat, in the Phoenix Park, with the rugby playing, Michael Cusack would not take place for four years and the momentous meeting in the billiard room of Hayes's Commercial Hotel, Liberty Square, Thurles was nine years and thirty seven days away. When Moore died on the 12th of April 1931, Ireland had severed her ties with England and become a Free State: DeValera and Fianna Fail were just months away from power and Michael Cusack's brainchild, the G.A.A., was fast growing into one of the great amateur sporting organisations in the world and was 47 years old. James Patrick Moore, now known as Jimmie Moore, had left his indelible mark as one of the great Gaelic footballers of his era and had also grown into something of a local legend in his own short lifetime.

So how did a young man, born seven thousand miles away, under the Southern Cross, come to make such a profound impression on the Gaelic football fields of Ireland at the turn of the nineteenth century?

Family Background

Patrick Moore, Jimmie's father, was born the third of four boys in the Lady's Island area on the 4th of January 1833 to Phil and Ally Moore (nee Newport). As a young man Patrick emigrated to Argentina where he eventually married a girl called Anita (surname as yet unknown) and they had two children. Alice, born 1873 and James Patrick, born 25th of September 1875. Anita died in 1877 in her early twenties so Alice and young James were looked after by an aunt. Patrick and James returned to Ireland in 1883 leaving the ten year old Alice in the aunt's care. (Alice eventually entered a convent in Buenos Aires and in due time became head of her order). Patrick Moore purchased Old Boley House, Taghmon and land (121 acres) from Nicholas Duff, who had been the occupier from the early 1850's. Old Boley House was built by the Redmond family between 1775 and 1780, and three generations of Harveys had been in residence as caretakers, up until Nicholas Duff's time. Patrick Moore died at the age of 55, in 1888 and is buried in the church grounds in Lady's Island.

Uncle Willie

Patrick Moore's brother William (born 1835) then came to Old Boley and assisted James and his stepmother Mary (Patrick had remarried in the meantime) in the running of the farm. William, or Willie, as he soon became known locally, immediately seems to have taken an active interest in parish affairs for his name appears regularly in the Wexford People and other newspapers, in connection with various parochial events. He had been instrumental in the formation of the Lady's Island G.A.A. club which was one of the first clubs in the country to be affiliated to the new organisation. He brought young James around to fairs and football matches, thus stimulating his interest in football and honing his bargaining skills for his farming days ahead.

Precisely when young Jimmie Moore first kicked a ball we do not know, but it would be safe to assume that, from the very beginning, 'a leather' was part of the furniture in the Old Boley household. He was probably kicking one about on the afternoon of November the 1st 1884 while the meeting was in progress in Hayes's Hotel, Thurles.

Jimmie Moore - The Cricket Player

Strange as it may seem, it is not in relation to football that we first encounter Jimmie's name in the sporting pages of the local press: it is in a People newspaper of January 1889 that he is reported as having been elected captain of the newly formed Tomcoole Cricket Club. Cricket, of course, was extremely popular at the time and a club or two existed in almost every parish. It was actively encouraged by the authorities, who regarded it as another expedient in the anglicisation of the country and a means of cooling the seething cauldron of nationalism. Musha, God help 'em.

A 14 Years Old Football Prodigy

In January 1890 Jimmie Moore's name appeared on the top of a list of players picked on a Taghmon team to play Ballyhogue, and a new star was born. He was fourteen years and three months old. The match apparently did not take place at this time, but in March, the same team took on Lady's Island in Carne and, although soundly beaten, 2-8 to 0-4, they gave a splendid account of themselves. There is nothing unusual in a young boy of Moore's age lining out with grown-ups. Dick Fitzgerald, Paudi O'Shea, Pat Spillane of Kerry and Tommy Murphy of Laois, as well as hundreds of lesser known players, have done it, but in the primitive conditions of the 1890s with no proper set of recognised rules, it would seen to have been suicidal. Teams boxed and kicked and tripped and wrestled and battered each other unmercifully. Men were generally chosen for their toughness and ferocity and almost all were singularly lacking in the scientific skills that we take for granted today. Also, in 1890, teams were made up of 21-aside and all 42 of them lined up in the centre of the field for the throw in.

So we can imagine young Moore surrounded by 41 'leaping savages' each one obsessively intent on disembowelling the other. It was said at the time that football, as played by the Irish, was only slightly less hazardous than open warfare. When the ball was thrown in and the referee had scurried to a safe distance, the ideals and aspirations of the founders and their patrons were quickly forgotten, as 21 fiercely determined young men faced 21 equally resolute opponents and, without the benefit of nicety, strove with unrelenting tenacity to propel the ball in opposite directions.

'The Gunner went down in a slaughter of cuts
And "Snots" was stretched out with a kick in the guts' 1

Suprisingly, fatalities were rare: a man call Mathew Connelly, aged 26, of Finchogue, Enniscorthy, died when he was in collision with a number of players in a practice match near Vinegar Hill and in 1904, a young man named Ben Cotton was killed, in Fethard-on-Sea, while playing with Fethard St Patrick's against New Ross Geraldines.

Moore's Athleticism

Competing in this rough and tumble type of encounter would have been a test of mettle for the toughest of mature adults, but for a boy as young as Moore it should have been a nightmare. But it wasn't: for like Dick Fitzgerald of Kerry a few years later and Tommy Murphy of Laois, closer to our own time, he could have been described as a sort of 'wonder boy'. He was certainly phenomenally fast and could outrun the fleetest of adults and according to eyewitnesses he could vault a seven-foot gate by placing one hand on top and propelling himself over it. It was said locally that he never opened a gate - he just jumped it. The great footballer, Andy Doyle of 1950s/60s St. Munn's, Wexford and Leinster fame, somewhat of a legend himself, remembers old people speaking in awe of a huge iron gate, with vertical bars at the end of Byron's lane (in Harristown), which Moore used to fly over with the ease of a bird. Murt Synnott, who lives opposite, informs us that, even though replaced, the gate was still lying in the ditch close by up until about four years ago.

So equipped with this rare kind of speed and agility young Moore's chances of surviving these onslaughts were high and with each outing he became more and more confident of his ability to outmanoeuvre even the most outrageous 'maim artist'.

Early Upheavals

Just as Moore was beginning to assert his superior skills at the game, an upheaval took place within the G.A.A. caused by the Parnell/Kitty O'Shea affair. The G.A.A. leadership stood firmly behind Parnell, (who was one of their first patrons) and of course, incurred the hostility of the clergy. Even Dr Croke, whose letter to Cusack, seven years earlier, had become known as the charter of the G.A.A., became incensed and withdrew his patronage. (He cooled down and came back four years later). The clergy at that time were all-powerful and the inevitable happened: the number of clubs dropped from 1000 in 1888 to 220 in 1892. In Wexford, no County Board existed between 1891 and 1893 and so no clubs were affiliated and no championship games were played.

Nevertheless, Moore kept busy: he played cricket regularly and as captain of the Tomcoole club he was a constant visitor to Kavanagh's lawn in Mulmintra where cricket was played well into this century. In playing cricket, Moore was not contravening any G.A.A. rule because when the association was introducing the ban in 1886, cricket was regarded as harmless and only rugby and soccer were considered a threat. The ban was lifted altogether in 1893 and did not return again until 1905.

The Nature Of the Early 'Friendlies'

Football though was still played and the 'whump-thump' of leather boot on leather ball could be heard on summer evenings as groups of sweaty young men pummelled and pounded each other until darkness fell, in a 'three goals in' exercise. Matches too, were still played and contests between opposing parishes, or even opposing townlands, were common. These games were known as 'friendlies', although 'unfriendlies' would have been a more appropriate name for some of them. Clem Molloy (1877-1951), talked of an encounter in Shawstown at which three men had to be anointed on the field and a fourth had his arm and collar bone broken when he was unceremoniously flung over a high ditch by four hefty opponents. At another 'friendly', in Aughnagan, an entire team, made up mostly of fishermen from the Kilmore area, were forced to leave their clothes hanging up in schocks and flee for their lives when a dispute over a disallowed goal turned into a free for all.
'From Aughnagan the holeyawns ran
Leaving stitch and brogue behind'2

Organisational Chaos

At county level too, things were chaotic. Matches were running up to two years late, rows were frequent and the losers almost always lodged an objection. Sometimes teams did not even bother to turn up. Wexford reached the 1890 All- Ireland football final but lost to Cork. The game wasn't played until June 1892 - four months after the 1891 final. They lost the 1891 hurling final to Kerry after extra time but won the 1893 football final by beating Cork 1-1 to 0-2 when the mother and father of a row erupted and Cork walked off the field. (Some say they ran) With the reformation of the Wexford County Board in 1894, the county football championship got under way and was won by the Young Irelands - their one and only victory. Taghmon had no affiliated club between 1890 and 1899 so Moore, a young man boiling over with talent had no club with which to compete at top level. He took part in 'friendlies' and figured prominently in cricket matches all over the country. He must have felt like a champion poker player having a game of Old Maid.

Moore Briefly Joins The Volunteers Club

Eventually Moore joined the Volunteers club where he soon proved his worth and was selected for the county team. He won a county football title with the Vols in 1898 and also helped Wexford reach the Leinster final in which they were soundly beaten by Dublin, 2-6 to 0-0, another match that ended in a brawl. He also played with Taghmon in a series of tournament matches in Wexford Park on the 15th of April 1898. Taghmon went down badly to St Patrick's by 2-8 to 0-0. Among those playing for Taghmon that day were Matty Ryan, Ballybeg, Mike Foley Cloonerane, Ned and Willie Larkin, Harristown and Arthur Pigott who would later play with Moore on the county team. Tournaments were held all over the country in 1898 as fundraisers for the various commemoration ceremonies to honour the men who died in the rebellion a hundred years earlier.

His Reputation Grows

But it was 1899 that turned out to be Moore's busiest and most successful year so far. As well as playing for Taghmon and Wexford (he was now captain of the Wexford team), he also found time to referee a match between The Ballagh and Curracloe and according to reliable reports carried it off with all the aplomb of a Dickie Murphy. In addition he played cricket for Tomcoole at various venues. His first outing in 1899 was with a team called rather ostentatiously 'The Taghmon Fear Nots': the location was Ryan's, Ban-na-gCaorach, in Mulmintra and the opposition was the no less flamboyantly named, 'Forth and Bargy Heroes'. Press reports tell us that The 'Fear Nots' overcame the 'Heroes' and that Moore, Cullen and Murphy starred, but local eyewitness accounts are a little more colourful: Clem Molloy enthused that, 'Moore would "lep" over the chapel at Caro and not have a bother on him.' Andy Lennon of Kilgarvan (1871 -1944) stated that, 'the top man in the Fianna would be only trotting after him'.

The 1897 Croke Cup Campaign

A fortnight later on the 15th of February, Moore was helping Wexford demolish Louth at Jones Road by 3-14 to 0-2 in the first round of the 1897 Croke Cup. Moore gave a masterly display and was ably assisted by Martin Cummins and Ned 'The Scoundrel' Larkin. The following Sunday he lined out with Taghmon when they overcame Lady's Island in the championship. J Moore, J Roche, Arthur Pigott, Faney and Hamilton were Taghmon stalwarts. On the 8th of April Wexford took the field at Jones Road in the second round of the Croke Cup but their opponents, Meath, never turned up so Wexford were awarded a walkover. In the next round they were drawn against Dublin and the match was fixed for Wexford Park but the Dublin team refused to travel. The Dublin Co. Board had to pick a substitute side to send down and Wexford beat them by 1-5 to 0-1 in the pouring rain. The final was fixed for May 28th at Jones Road.

The Infamy Of Ballinagore

In the meantime an event was to take place which will be forever a day of shame in the annals of the G.A.A. On Sunday May 7th the Volunteers travelled to Ballinagore, Blackwater (a very apt name on account of all the blood that was spilled there) to play Vinegar Hill '98s in an 1898 championship tie. A fine clean match ensued with some good stylish football until three minutes before the end when the Vols were leading by 1-6 to 0-3. Then a menacing horde of Enniscorthy followers streamed onto the field brandishing sticks and iron bars and carrying fistfuls of large stones. They attacked the Wexford players viciously forcing them to take refuge in a covered bus owned by White's Hotel. The Enniscorthy hooligans then laid siege to the bus, pelting it with rocks and smashing the glass with iron bars causing injury to some of those inside. One man had his jaw split open with flying glass. To their eternal credit the Vinegar Hill players succeeded in escorting the bus to safety. When the fighting had died down and both sets of followers were licking their wounds, the referee, P.Behan of Rathnew, attempted to whistle the Vols back onto the field but of course, by this time, they were safely speeding through Castlebridge. He awarded the game to Vinegar Hill '98s but the Vols objected and were justifiably awarded the match. In spite of all the barbarity, a splendid game of football had taken place and some gifted footballers had given wonderful exhibitions. Moore and Frank Boggan Enniscorthy, showed unusual skill as did Franey, Ormond and Malone, Vols3.

Croke Cup Victory

A fortnight later Moore and Boggan would help Wexford defeat Cork in the prestigious Croke Cup final. The Croke Cup was donated in 1896 by the G.A.A.'s first patron, Archbishop Croke of Cashel. It immediately became the second most sought after trophy. The surviving upper section of the cup is on display in the G.A.A. museum in Croke Park, on loan from Tony Honan of Ennis. There was also a hurling trophy with an identical history: in a preliminary round in 1897 Wexford beat Kildare by 14-15 to 1-1, the highest score ever recorded in an inter-county competition.

On the day of the final the Wexford team travelled to Dublin by an early train arriving in the city at 11.30. They marched with a huge band of followers to Jones Road where the game got under way at 12.40. Wexford dominated the opening ten minutes with Moore and Tom 'Hoey' Redmond reaching great heights of excellence. Cork put up stiff opposition and succeeded in registering 2 points. The half-time score was Wexford 0-5, Cork 0-2. Although Cork fought tooth and nail in the second half they failed to score again and Wexford ran out easy winners by 1-11 to 0-2. The Free Press reported that Tom 'Hoey' Redmond was man of the day and that the work of Moore, Crean and Paddy Murphy could not be excelled. The Wexford team and officials were lavishly entertained in the Rutland Hotel at the expense of the G.A.A. Matt Rea, the great Dublin captain and one of the first men to play 'sweet football' was loud in his praise of Moore and his men. He said Wexford were rescuing the grand game of football from out of the dark ages. 'To my mind they exhibit all the finer points of the game. Wexford border more closely on perfection then any team of the present day'. Praise indeed. On July 1st a huge banquet was held in the Town Hall (Arts Centre). The players were lauded as conquering heroes and the fare was sumptuous. N.J. Cosgrave, President of the Co. Committee was in the chair and P.P. Sutton, Vice President of the G.A.A. came down from Dublin to attend. Everyone who was anyone made a speech and the whole scene was almost engulfed in a tidal wave of rhetoric.

'In far foreign fields from Dunkirk to Belgrade
Lie the soldiers and chiefs of the Irish Brigade'.
The Free Press scribe too, was effusive in his appreciation of the team.
'But these are deeds which shall not pass away
And names that must not wither: though the earth
Forgets her empires.........'

A slight damper on the proceedings was the fact that they had no cup to fill. Dublin had collected the cup on the 13th of July 1897 (1896 final) and seemed to think that after two years they were entitled to keep it. A stiff letter from a Dublin solicitor changed their minds. But still Wexford did not get it for the Central Council demanded 20 deposit before handing it over. Wexford told them what to do with it at first but then they relented and paid up. But, there was still a problem: the Council now offered Wexford silver medals when they had given gold to Dublin two years previously. Sam Nolan tore up to a Central Council meeting with fire in his eyes and gave them a piece of his mind. Wexford got gold. They cost 5 pounds and 5 shillings.


A Croke Cup medal like the one stolen from Jimmie Moore's son, Paddy, in 1983

On Monday night the 6th of November 1899 a large crowd was gathered at Wexford's North Station awaiting the 10 o' clock train. They knew that Sam Nolan was on board and that he was bringing back with him the Croke Cup and a pocket full of medals. The train steamed to a halt, the doors opened, and out stepped Sam to be greeted by the mightiest cheer that was ever released over Wexford town. In his left hand he was holding aloft the long awaited cup and in his right a string of gleaming gold medals.

Moore At His Peak

In spite of the euphoria generated by the Croke Cup victory and the patriotic fervour still lingering from the '98 remembrance, the G.A.A. in Wexford was in a poor state in 1899. Where 33 clubs had existed in 1890, there were now only 10 (There are 52 today) and interest in the organisation seemed to be subsiding. But men who love football will always find a way to play football and by now, Moore was believed by some to be the best footballer in Ireland. He was certainly up there among the best: Matt Rea, Tom 'Darby' Errity, Jack Ledwidge of Dublin, Willie Ryan of Tipperary, Con Fitzgerald of Limerick, Mick and Martin Cumminns of Ballymurn and a few more. He was also captain of the Wexford team and gave another fine display in helping to beat Wicklow in the Leinster semi-final by 2-11 to 0-4. On the 25th of November 1899 he starred in a tournament game against Dublin in which Wexford ran out comfortable winners by 2-11 to 0-4. The '99 championship dragged on into 1900 and Wexford lost to Dublin by 1-7 to 0-3. In the meantime, Taghmon Shamrocks were storming through the county championships until they were abruptly becalmed by Lady's Island on a score of 1-6 to 0-2. Moore and Arthur Pigott were stars. Pigott lived where the Super Value shop in Taghmon now stands at what was formerly known as 'Pigott's Corner'. He was the son of Dr Pigott who spent 30 years as medical officer in Taghmon. Wexford beat Dublin 1-7 to 0-8 in the championship with Moore having 'a stormer' and Pigott 'lending good support' but they went down to Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final 0-5 to 0-4 in spite of the trojan efforts of Jimmie Moore and Tom 'The Scoundrel' Larkin. The match was played at a place with the unusual sounding name of Christendom, but unfortunately the behaviour of the spectators was far from Christlike. On two occasions, a mindless mob descended onto the pitch, like the followers of Attila, The Scourge of God. On both occasions the referee donned the mantle of Pope Leo 1 and miraculously turned them back. These, no doubt, were stimulating times.

The Great Caroreigh Campaign

The years 1901 and 1902 were exciting times in Caroreigh and almost resulted in the winning of a county title. For some reason, during these years, the focus of football attention was centred away from Taghmon and the spotlight concentrated on the half parish. Their first outing was on the 20th of April 1901 in a tournament in Campile where they were drawn against Boheen Na Slawn (sic) a team from the New Ross environs and they went down by 1-3 to 0-2. They called themselves, the Caroreigh Volunteers (probably because a few of the John Street variety were on the team) and of the three matches played that day theirs was reckoned to be by far, the best. Moore appears to have adopted a roving, Jack O'Shea type of game, for Andy Lennon said, 'he surely run (sic) over a 100 mile' 4.

On the 30th of June in Wexford Park, this time as plain 'Caroreigh', they took on Ballyhogue in the championship - a match that was described as 'fierce tough'. Ballyhogue played under protest because they claimed that Caroreigh had so many Wexford town men on the team that playing in Wexford Park was the equivalent of playing on their own home ground. Surprisingly, Ballyhogue led by 1-9 to 0-1 at half time. This was achieved, they say, by the Ballyhogue tactic of 'taking no coddin'. However, in the second half Caroreigh seemed to have their measure and added score after score until they were only a point behind. At this stage a Ballyhogue man lay down and claimed that 'he had got a puck in the mouth from a Caro fella'. The referee said 'he hadn't got eyes in the back of his head' and that 'he couldn't take his word for it'. Ballyhogue, in keeping with the fashion of the times, walked off the field and the match was given to Caro. The Ballyhogue men objected but to no avail. Moore, Ned Larkin, (capt), J Walsh and J. Murphy starred and Matty Ryan 'was useful'.

Then came the big day in Carrigbyrne, in November, when Caroreigh took on Campile in a game that was not distinguished for its gentlemanly behaviour. Caro again adopted a cavalier approach to the rules of geography in the selection of their team. It was claimed in a newspaper that they had men from Ballymitty, New Ross, Wexford and Taghmon. Another writer said they had ten county men on their team. Phil Lennon (1873-1916), a local poet and brother of Andy Lennon, was in a satirical mood when he wrote:

They came from old Rosegarland,
They came that day from Scar,
They came to see famed Caroree,
Those men from God knows where.

Campile hadn't the talent to cope with this galaxy, so they succumbed. They objected (didn't everyone?), but their objection was thrown out when it was discovered that a number of their players had taken part in athletic competitions outside G.A.A. rules. Phil Lennon's other piece about that day's exploits was a mixture of genuine admiration and tongue-in-cheek.

When Moore soared in the sky:
And Gorman caught the curate's eye,
That famous day when Caroreigh
Won glory and renown.

'When Moore soared in the sky'. The line seems to sum up this 5'101/2'', 14 stone, Argentinean-born, fluent Spanish speaking, fair-haired, 25-year-old, in his absolute prime: this young man who exemplified the quintessential quality of Gaelic football in his time.

On the 13th of April 1902 Caroreigh supporters turned out in their thousands in the pouring rain to see their heroes take on Camblin Rovers in the county semi-final at the Showgrounds, Enniscorthy. Caro kept the Camblin men waiting in the downpour for twenty minutes before they emerged to tumultuous cheering led by 'that veteran Gael J.P. Moore'. (He was 26). Moore, Furlong of Lady's Island (sic) and Callaghan were starring for Taghmon when Moore, after a mighty run, broke through for a goal. This was greeted with thunderous applause from the rain-soaked followers and the squelch of sodden feet could be heard on top of Vinegar Hill. Unfortunately, this was to be their last score of the game and even though they attacked like tigers they could not break down the stonewall defence of the Camblin men. The final score at the end of a very exciting match was Camblin Rovers 0-8, Caroreigh 1-0. The referee was Frank Boggan, Enniscorthy, who had played with Moore on the famous Croke Cup winning team of two years earlier. That seems to have been controversial Caroreigh's last outing, for a fortnight later, on the 27th of April, they failed to turn up to play Lady's Island. Their excuse was 'We weren't told about the fixture in time'. They may have had difficulty getting out the 'call up' to so many far-flung and varied locations.

Matty Ryan - His Opinions - And His Legend

And as we fought with all our might
Matt Ryan the pride of Ballybeg
Kicked the football out of sight"

This scrap of verse from Phil Lennon refers to Matty Ryan of Ballybeg who played with Moore on both Caroreigh and Taghmon teams and whose admiration for his team-mate amounted to hero worship. He claimed that -

'Moore went so high wan day in the park that he took down a crow'
and
'If he was put to it he'd bate a whole team on his own'.

Wonderful feats to accomplish surely: but in the light of Matty's own deeds, they paled into insignificance. After receiving a pass from Moore one day in Wexford Park, Matty let blaze with a 'rasper'. The ball, which was travelling at almost the speed of light, struck the upright and split in two, one half going in for a goal and the other for a point. On another occasion at a training session in Gorman's field in Caroreigh, Matty doubled on a ball with such force that it disappeared out over Kilgarvan and was last seen passing over Assagart. Andy Lennon claimed that it was discovered the following Wednesday in Carrigbyrne - jammed in the branches of a sycamore tree. Matty, in later life, laughed this theory to scorn: he said, 'it wasn't found for a year after and when it was found it was stuck in a chute over a clothes shop in Ross'.

The End Of Moore's Football Career

Wexford went down to Dublin in the 1901 Leinster final by 1-9 to 0-1. Even Moore seems to have had an off day as he is only described as 'very good'. In an earlier match though, between North and South Wexford, he is described thus: 'And the way he evaded his opponents was magnificent'.

The 1902 Leinster championships dragged into 1904. Wexford played their first round tie against Offaly on the 24th January at Jones Road and it ended in a draw 0-3 to 0-3. Jimmie Moore was not playing. He lined out in the replay, which again ended in a draw, but for the first time ever he is not listed among those who distinguished themselves. He is also absent from the second replay on the 3rd of April when victory, at last, went to Wexford. On the 17th of April he is back again, in top form, against Kilkenny at Carlow when Wexford ran out winners by 0-4 to 0-1. On the 1st of May 1904 in the 1902 Leinster championship he donned the Wexford jersey for the last time when the Model County lined out against Dublin in the Leinster final at Carlow. He was 28 years and 7 months old. The morning was beautiful as the train set out from Wexford's North Station with a thousand people on board and all of them looking forward to a great afternoon's football. The referee reluctantly threw in the ball and two minutes later had occasion to put off Pat Whelan, a man with a history of indiscipline. Dublin made the most of the extra man and began piling on the pressure with the result that Wexford were soon in arrears by 1-4 to 0-1. The crowd was becoming more and more animated and the Dublin supporters, sensing victory, began moving in on the pitch. The Wexford followers, not to be outdone, followed suit with the result that the playing area was getting narrower and narrower. So with 17 minutes to go and the score 2- 5 to 0-5 in favour of Dublin, the referee had no other option but call a halt to the proceedings. Dublin won the replay by 1-5 to 0-5 but it was Moore no more, he had played his last game in the green and yellow.

He may have been only 28 years old but he had been playing football at adult level from the age of 14 and was bound to have incurred injuries in the frenetic exchanges of those tempestuous early days. Or maybe he came to the conclusion that he'd had enough - that to quit while he was still in one piece was the enlightened thing to do. Whatever his reasons, it is ironic that from the time of his retirement a kind of football renaissance was beginning to evolve. The Young Irelands of Dublin were developing a very appealing type of catch and kick game. Michael Kennedy of Kildare began demonstrating the toe to hand or solo run. Many more players of Moore's ilk were appearing on the scene. The mirror image of Moore himself, the great sixteen year old scoring machine from Kerry, Dick Fitzgerald, Jack and Tim Gorman, Austin Stack of Kerry, Pierce and Paddy Grace, Jack Dempsey and Dan Kelleher of Dublin, Sean O'Kennedy and Paddy Mackey were waiting in the wings in Wexford. These men and several others like them were bringing a touch of class into the game and turning it in to a spectacle to be savoured. Alas, Jimmie Moore was going out as they were coming in. It would have been wonderful if he could have arrived on the scene as a contemporary of O'Kennedy and Mackey and gone on to win 6 Leinster and 4 All-Ireland titles, but that is only wishful thinking - 'One of Kate's Rainbows'5. And even though he did spend most of his playing career dodging hob nailed boots and avoiding barbaric tackles he, nevertheless, left a legacy of outstanding performances which did not go unnoticed.

First Marriage And Return To Argentina

On Tuesday June 7th 1904 at Our Lady's Church, Lady's Island, Jimmie Moore married Katherine Mary Pettit of Rathmore, Broadway, Co. Wexford. Two years later on Friday the 15th of June 1906 she died tragically after a short illness, at the age of 27.

Jimmie remained in Old Boley until 1908 when he sold the place to Ned Larkin, a man born the same year as himself, and who had played football with him on many occasions. (Ned Larkin died in 1947 and Old Boley House passed to the Ryan family and in 1994 it was bought by Val Stafford of Poulmarle). Jimmie Moore went back to Argentina where he had inherited a large portion of land in Conessa. In January 1916 he wrote to the Wexford captain, Sean O'Kennedy, congratulating him on winning the All-Ireland football title the previous November. Remembering home and football he wrote:

'Allow me to offer you and the boys my heartiest congratulations on becoming champions of Ireland. You have a great team and judging from the description of the game in the Wexford papers to hand, it was worth going leagues to see. Good old Wexford! You are certainly deserving of success. I hope you will be able to keep your men together to repeat the performance at least next year. This will arrive rather late but you see it takes almost 5 weeks for news to filter through the 6000 miles to here so I offer no excuse. I am very proud indeed of your splendid victory as I am sure is every son of Wexford, whether he has been in the game or not, at home or abroad. Again congratulating you and wishing you and all the boys every success and hoping you are very well. Some of your friends may remember me. Give the team by best respects.

J.P. Moore'.

Return To Ireland And Second Marriage

Jimmie lived in Conessa and farmed there until 1925 when he again returned to Ireland. On Saturday November 20th 1926 we read the following in the Free Press.

"Moore - Mernagh, November 16th 1926 at the Church of the Holy Name, Beechlawn Avenue, Ranelagh, with nuptial mass by Rev. M. O'Connor CC Wexford, J.P. Moore, Conessa, Buenos Aires to Kathleen, youngest daughter of the late Patrick Mernagh, Coolmain, Oilgate, Co. Wexford."

The honeymoon was spent travelling in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. He purchased Brookville House, Park from William Thompson of Thompson Brothers, Engineers, Wexford and moved in with his wife Kathleen. They had three children, Paddy, who now lives in Rathaspick, Brendan who resides in Carlow and Anita who died on the 12th April 1936 aged 5 years.

Jimmie Moore, himself died on the 12th of April, 1931 at the age of 55 after a short illness. He is buried in Crosstown Cemetery. Messages of sympathy flooded in when news of his death spread. Members of the G.A.A. from all over the county, particularly those who remembered his playing days and those who took the field with him at club and county level, were prompt in their condolences. An obituary which appeared in the Free Press on the 18th of April read:

'News of his death, which occurred after he was stricken down by serious illness came as a shock and cast a gloom over the town. He took no active part in public life and was extremely tolerant of the policies and political prejudices of others. He was deeply interested in the progress of any organisation that held within it hopes of affecting the social betterment of the people and particularly of the youth of the county. He took a prominent part in starting the Catholic Boy Scouts movement. A detachment of the Scouts attended as a guard of honour at the funeral. Many mourn his death as the loss of their best and staunchest friend. Among those who bore the remains to the graveyard were many prominent Gaels, ie: Martin Cummins, Ballymurne, captain of the team which won the Croke Cup and Tom 'Hoey' Redmond from Dublin. The funeral on Tuesday was the occasion of a remarkable tribute of public sympathy...'.

An Appreciation:

"He was a man for all that
We shall not look upon his like again"

'He had a sanity of outlook and a breath of vision that stamped him as a cultured and travelled man and a type out of the ordinary and a tolerance that had its well springs in a genuine charity. A democrat of the democrats, he was one of the few who could walk with kings nor loose the common touch.'

His wife Kathleen died in 1970, aged 80, and is buried alongside her husband and daughter, Anita, in Crosstown.

We visited his grave recently and as we mused over his many achievements, our minds went 'dancing back to the days of gold' 6 and we though of what Phil Lennon had written all those years ago.

'When Moore soared in the sky'.
'Aye', says he, 'When Moore soared in the sky'.

The Winning Wexford Croke Cup team of 1897

Players only: Back Row: Jimmy Redmond, Ned Franey, Paddy Murphy, Mike Cummins, Jimmy Moore (left hand across breast) Tom 'Hoey' Redmond (arms folded). Middle Row; Pat Rath (goal), Martin Cummins (capt), Willie Creane, Jack Bolger, Jack O'Leary, Owen Gordan. (Front Row) Frank Boggan, Jack McGuinn, Tom (Scoundrel) Larkin, Jack 'Borneo' Doyle.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The Free Press
The People Newspapers
The New Ross Standard
Catch and Kick By Eoghan Corry
The Story of the G.A.A. by Seamus O Ceallaigh
The G.A.A. by Marcus de Burca
The Making of Modern Ireland 1603-1923 by J.C. Beckett
Ireland Since the Famine by F.S.L. Lyons
Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games by Raymond Smith
A Rebel 100 by Jim Cronin
Croke of Cashel by Mark Tierney
Hail and Farewell by George Moore
The Staff of Wexford Library
Mike Waters Cloonarane
Andy Doyle Taghmon
Jack Synnott Taghmon
Martin Ryan Garrylough
Special thanks to Jimmie Moore's son, Paddy of Rathaspick for his wonderful assistance and co-operation.
Noreen McLoughlin, Valuation Office Dublin
The Argentinean Embassy Dublin.
Rev. Fr. McGrath, P.P., Our Lady's Island; Seamus Seery, Wexford; Hilary Murphy, Wexford; Paddy Doyle , Modubeg; Kathleen Waters, Waters;
And those who are no longer with us:Patsy and James Waters, Mulmintra, Phil Waters, Caroreigh. Richie Parle, Poulpeasty, Andy Lennon, Kilgarvan, Clem Molloy, Tottenhamgreen and many many more.

REFERENCES AND NOTES

  1. As recited by Johnny McDonald, Hopefield, at card playing sessions in the 1940s and early 1950s
  2. ibid.
  3. For a more detailed account of this event see, The Ghosts of Bygone Days by Sean Whelan, Enniscorthy 1998.
  4. As related, on at least 1000 occasions, by Andy Lennon himself in a chimney corner in Kilgarvan by the light of a flickering oil lamp.
  5. From the play Rainbows is the Boys by Pauline McGonnigle.
  6. From the poem A Piper by Seamus O'Sullivan (1879-1958)