James Andrew Walsh

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James Andrew Walsh (20 November 1908 - 17 May 1985) was a formidable hurler. He was born in Waterford City, Ireland, the son of James Walsh of New Ross, Co. Wexford, and Ellen Stafford of Carrick-on-Bannow, Co. Wexford. He attended Mount Sion in Waterford City, the first school founded and run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers. The Irish Christian Brothers were staunch champions of Irish nationalism, the Irish Language Revival and Irish sports.[1] Mount Sion established a strong and enduring tradition of hurling, which filled the young and impressionable Jimmy with a lifelong enthusiasm. When he left Mount Sion, James took with him not only the skills, but a determination to excel, which eventually led to his participation in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship of 1934.

However, it would be wrong to think that Mount Sion was all sport and games. The ancient Greeks believed in a concept called arête, which means ‘to be the best you can be’. This demanded the equal development of body, mind and spirit. The founder of Mount Sion, Edmund Ignatius Rice, took this concept to heart and undertook to develop ‘the whole student’.[2] James Walsh was the living embodiment of this ethos. When he sat the exams for the Leaving Certificate, he achieved the highest score for mathematics in the nation.

In the archives of the Leinster GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association), James is referred to as Jim Walsh (Civil Service).[3] This was done to avoid confusing him with other hurlers of the same name, but it also signifies that Jim Walsh was among the first generation of civil servants to serve the fledgling and sovereign modern state of Ireland. Already fluent in the Irish language, he passed the challenging Civil Service Entrance Examination for Executive Officers, achieving 12th place out of the 250 candidates who took the test in 1926. His recruitment into the Civil Service meant moving from Waterford to Dublin. He first worked in the Department of Education, was seconded briefly to the Department of Finance, and eventually settled in the Department of Defence (Ireland).

While James was at the Department of Education, he met Nora Fitzpatrick of Kinsale, Co. Cork. She too had travelled to Dublin to embark on a Civil Service career. They married, and had four children: Margaret, Patricia, John Finbarr (Barry)[4] and Elizabeth.

Hurling Highlights[edit]

James Walsh played half back (see Gaelic football, hurling and camogie positions) for Dublin GAA and Leinster GAA. He was on the team that won the 1932 Railway Cup Hurling Championship and the 1933 Railway Cup Hurling Championship.[5] He also played in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship of 1932 and 1933.[6] His team won the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship in 1934, and went on to play Limerick in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship 1934 at Croke Park, Dublin. Although Leinster lost after a hard-fought replay,[7] it was a proud moment to have played in the game that marked the Golden Anniversary of the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association. James won numerous medals, and appeared on a National Sporting Heroes cigarette card published about 1934-5 by W.D. & H.O. Wills.

Photographic proof for Sporting Heroes cigarette card

What the papers said -

Walsh the Pick of the Dublin Bunch
Jimmy Walsh, the Civil Service representative, was the pick of the Dublin team. He struck back a great number of balls throughout the whole hour. He was always in the picture and completely eclipsed Martin Power. He certainly gave a very nice display. [8]

Jimmie Walsh (Civil Service) -- Right half back. Native of Waterford. Played for his native County and for the Dublin Juniors, and for Dublin seniors in last year's National League Final for the first time as a back. Doubtful if there is a better half-back playing. Excellent in both matches against Kilkenny. [9]

Walsh as Good as Previously
Last week I expressed the view that Jimmy Walsh at right half-back was the pick of the bunch. The same can be said without any doubt on this occasion. The Civil Service man was everywhere at the right time; got rid of the ball in the proper manner, followed up to anticipate a possible return. And when the returns came he got them safe and sound. If anything he was too strong during the first half, but who then could expect a defence man to cut his stroke? He is a topping hurler without question.[10]

Half-backs Good
Jimmy Walsh and Caniffe were the best of the challengers.[11]

Thrilling Hurling Battle Ends in Draw
The encounter between Dublin and Limerick was truly an epic. On the whole, it must be said that Limerick had the best of the play, and the fact that Dublin compelled a draw was due to the close tackling of its players, to the cool, cleverness of Walsh, and the magnificent savings of Forde, the goalie...Dublin positions were rearranged. Jimmy Walsh moved into midfield, and this move largely determined the result of the match.[12]

Great Opposition
(An interview with Mick Mackey, arguably Ireland's greatest hurler)
When I again turned Mick's thoughts to the 1934 All-Ireland, he commented that Dublin had a wonderful half-back line...Jimmy Walsh, a Waterford man, was also great for Dublin; he did some terrible (i.e. formidably great) hurling for his side on the day of the replay.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Faith and fatherland: the Christian Brothers and the development of Irish nationalism, 1838-1921 by Barry M. Coldrey (Dublin, 1988)
  2. ^ http://www.iona.edu/about/mission/info/rice.cfm
  3. ^ http://leinster.gaa.ie/archive/pdf/P40_69%20Finalis.pdf[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ http://www.iu.edu/~ovpit/bios/bwalsh.html
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  6. ^ http://leinster.gaa.ie/archive/pdf/P40_69%20Finalis.pdf[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ 1934 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final
  8. ^ An Gaidheal August 18, 1934 'Leinster Hurling Final: Dublin Hurlers' Great Display'
  9. ^ An Gaidheal September 1, 1934 'All Ireland Hurling Final: Who's Who on the Dublin and Limerick Teams'
  10. ^ An Gaidheal September 1, 1934 'Dublin takes the Leinster Double!'
  11. ^ http://www.askaboutireland.ie/aai-files/assets/libraries/limerick-city-library/reading-room/sport/an-gaedheal-article-the-great-final.pdf
  12. ^ An Phoblacht3 September 1934
  13. ^ Irish Independent This Match I Will Remember says Mick Mackey of Limerick as told to John D. Hickey.

External links[edit]