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Grattans to commemorate 'Iomain Ionnais Caoin'

posted 16 Dec 2010, 03:20 by Jonathan Tavey   [ updated 5 Feb 2012, 05:17 ]
Friday January 7th 2011 will see a special game of hurling played in Inniskeen when Monaghan and Louth meet to commemorate a game that was played between these sides 205 years ago. That game is now part of the history and folklore of the GAA in both counties and so that backdrop should see great interest in the match.

History and hurling are no strangers to Inniskeen and the playing of hurling in that part of County Monaghan is documented as far back as the year 1806 when that match was played between the men of Farney, (Monaghan), and Louth, a contest that the local team won. That feat is recorded in the annals of Irish literature and Irish folklore in a now famous poem called Ioman Inis Chaoin, the hurling of Inniskeen, the record preserved for posterity through the efforts of the late Henry Morris in Dha Chead de Cheoltaibh Uladh. That game took place on April 18th 1806, almost 80 years before the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded. Things were not organised on the same official base as they are now and that contest back 204 years ago would appear to have developed when a Dr. Atcionson issued a challenge to a Father Edward Duffy who was then the parish priest in Inniskeen to a hurling contest. Accounts of the game spread across the entire province of Ulster and it is also recorded that the victory inspired the Monaghan men to greater efforts as the game of hurling flourished for many years afterwards in the Farney area of the county. Local tradition has it that the game was played in a field where the Inniskeen Parochial Hall now Stands and a plaque will be unveiled at the Hall to commemorate the re-enactment of that famous contest. Hopefully though it will not be a total re-enactment of the proceedings as the report from the time mentions that when the Louth men arrived they had their hurls and other equipment strapped to a donkey but the Inniskeen men were not in a friendly mood and one of the Finn brothers pushed donkey and hurls into the river Fane before the start of the contest.

The Inniskeen club as we know it was founded in 1883, again before the official founding of the GAA in Thurles in 1884 and well before the setting up of the first county board in Monaghan in 1887. Inniskeen went on to win the first ever Monaghan senior football championship title in 1888 and as Monaghan champions went on to defeat the then Cavan champions, Maghera MacFinns, to become the first ever Ulster senior football champions. This year Inniskeen recorded two other firsts, a first ever senior hurling championship and an Ulster club junior hurling title. Ulster club titles though are not new to Inniskeen either as back some five years ago the club won the Ulster and All Ireland intermediate club football championship titles.