Gaelic Football and The Civil War

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Kerry’s dominance in Gaelic football over the past century is a testament to the county’s passion for the sport — a passion that was forged by the bitterness of the Civil War.

The worst atrocities occurred in Kerry. In retaliation for the killing of five Free State soldiers (including two members of the Dublin Brigade) in Knocknagoshel, nine Republicans were tied around a mine and blown up at Ballyseedy on 7 March 1923.

Five others were similarly treated at Countess Bridge near Killarney the same day. In each case one of the men escaped to tell what happened. The following week five IRA prisoners were taken from Caherciveen and tied around a mine. To make sure none escaped, they were shot in each knee before they were blown up. Those responsible for the atrocities were largely from the Dublin Brigade, which lent intensity to rivalry between the two counties.


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