Dundalk’s indoor football league: a forgotten story

At 7.30pm on Thursday October 17 the County Museum, Dundalk will host a reminiscences session looking at the indoor football leagues of the 1960s which started in the north-east and spread to venues throughout Ireland.
According to Museum Curator, Brian Walsh, indoor football was very popular with GAA players, who managed to avoid the ban on foreign sports as it was seen as entertainment and not soccer. Women were encouraged to play indoor football and this was the start of the contemporary women’s soccer and Gaelic football.
“This took place during a time of social change in Ireland with the game becoming one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the late 1960s with teams travelling long distances to compete and huge crowds gathering to view the matches. We’re working with Helena Byrne from Drogheda Local Voices to record and hopefully develop an exhibition around this league,” explained Brian.
Helena Byrne, from Drogheda Local Voices, first documented the history of the Abbey Ballroom Indoor Football Leagues. Recently she has uncovered information about similar competitions that ran in the Adelphi Ballroom in Dundalk as part of the Maytime Festival, the Embassy Ballroom in Castleblayney, the Skating Rink in Blackrock and the Parochial Hall in Inniskeen.
According to Helena, his is an aspect of the county’s history that is as yet unwritten.
“Thursday’s event will hopefully be of interest to people who either, played or attended those competitions. We’d love if they could come along to the event and share their stories. You have teams like The Casuals from Dundalk who dominated the women’s competitions in Drogheda, but we’d like to know did they feature strongly in the leagues closer to home.
“In the men’s competition, the Beatlers from Inniskeen were reported to have been the only team with a supporters club, there is such social side to this story that has to be recorded.”
Mr. Walsh, agreed saying that “at this time Irish society is just about to change. “This is the time of the ban on foreign games, the role of women is being questioned, people’s social lives are changing in so many different ways and the football leagues are highlighting the transformation that is about to come. We’d welcome people to join in on Thursday October 17 next to share their memories, photos and memorabilia. No matter how long or short we would like to hear all your stories”, he stated.
More information may be had by contacting Brian Walsh at 042 9392999.

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