Century-old medal back where it belongs as mystery solved

Date Published: {J}

By Harry Casey

One of Galway’s renowned Gaelic football families has at last solved the riddle of who owns a GAA County championship medal which has now been restored to it’s rightful home.

Ace free taker Cyril Dunne slotted many a ball between the uprights while wearing the beloved maroon jersey, but he kept missing the target for nearly two years every time he tried to find who owned the nine carat pure gold medal which was unearthed among a collection of medals belonging to his late Dad, the legendary Galway three-in-a-row trainer John Tull Dunne.

The Westmeath County football championship medal, dated 1909, had been in the Dunne household for many a long year, but it was only when taking his own All-Ireland and Connacht medals into Cahalan’s jewellers in Ballinasloe to be cleaned, that Cyril became more determined than ever to find out who owned the medal.

But it was after he showed the medal to Creagh national School Principal Tony Broderick, that some light was at last thrown on the ownership of the medal,because it happened that the father of a member of Tony’s teaching staff, Stephanie Keating, was undertaking research on the history of Athlone GAA.

During their research, Andy O’Sullivan and Vincent Keating traced the ownership of the medal back to a Joe Dunne, who was an uncle of John Tull Dunne, and a member of the victorious Athlone team that won the 1909 County football title.

The final was played on December 5, 1909, but had to be stopped due to bad light, and the rescheduled decider actually took place on March 6,1910, in the Mullingar Horse Showgrounds where St. Mary’s of Athlone prevailed over Riverstown.

The same “J. Dunne” was also discovered by Cyril’s sister, Anne, to have been best man at the wedding of their grand father William, a discovery unearthed during a trawl of the family tree.

Following lengthy inquiries in Athlone, Cyril finally tracked done Joe’s son Bill, a sprightly 90 year old, who was brought up in Ballinasloe, and now lives in Monksland.

Bill was thrilled to be re-united with his late father’s century old medal which he now plans on handing down to one of his own family.

For the record, Cyril Dunne won three All-Ireland medals and six Connacht medals with Galway, as well as minor and junior All-Ireland honours, and his father captained Galway to senior success in 1934 and 1938.