It is interesting how history oft times repeats itself, even in the sporting calendar.
Here, Marie O’Sullivan traces the lines of a family history which is about to be recorded in a radio programme on Saturday night in Farranfore.
This year’s All Ireland Final victory for Kerry marks the centenary of another win, when the Kerry team were the victors at a replay against Wexford on November 29, 1914.
This team was trained by Curans native Jerry Collins, a name almost overlooked in the annals of Gaelic football in Kerry. However Jerry’s sporting prowess and those of his brothers Tim, Mick and Jack will be recalled and celebrated at Herlihy’s Bar, Farranfore on Saturday, December 6, when Weeshie Fogarty will be recording an episode of Terrace Talk based on the Collins family from 7pm onwards.
All four Collins brothers were renowned athletes. The eldest Tim entered the priesthood. Unfortunately a year prior to ordination, he ‘caught a cold’ at Balyheigue Sports, which developed into pneumonia and he died.
Moved to London
Mick the second eldest son and Jerry moved to London in the early 20th century.
Here, Mick joined Polytechnic Harriers athletic club. He was one of 21 club members selected to compete in the 1908 Olympics in London, where he competed in discus events. As well as training the Kerry team from 1912- 1926, Jerry also introduced the concept of collective-training to Gaelic football.
Whilst in London, both Jerry and Mick, experienced collective-training with Tottenham Hotspur Soccer Club.
His interest in the dogs led him to be one of those responsible for introducing track racing into Ireland; he was also one of the pioneers of the Irish Cup at Clounanna, and a co-founder of Shelbourne Park, Dublin. Jack Collins, who inherited the family pub in Currans – now Riverside Inn, – was a much respected handicapper and starter for the NACA from 1910 until his untimely death in 1939.
Former Kerry Footballer William Kirby
The sporting gene has been inherited by many Collins descendants, to name but a few, Mick Collins great-grandson is the former Kerry footballer William Kirby. Jerry Collins’ great-grandson Ted Collins has just recently returned from the USA where he competed in a major under-18 golfing tournament. Jack Collins was succeeded in his position of handicapper and starter by his nephew Con Daly. Con in turn coached his nephew Sean Daly, who was in his youth a highly acclaimed athlete.
The four Collins brothers had four sisters, Nell, Minnie, Annie and Kathleen. Interestingly all four daughters followed in their parents’ footsteps and were in the licensed trade.
At different points in time Minnie and Kathleen were the proprietors of what is now Herlihy’s Bar in Farranfore, Annie operated a public house at 34 The Mall, Tralee and though the family pub in Currans, was inherited by Jack, it was purchased by his sister Ellen and her son Con Daly – after the untimely deaths of Jack and his wife.
Riverside Inn / Herlihy’s Bar / The Brogue Inn / Ruairi’s
As with the sporting gene, the licensed trade still features in the family: Herlihy’s Bar and Riverside Inn are still owned by Collins descendants – Marie O’Sullivan and Jamesie Daly respectively.
Jack Collins’ grand-daughter Aileen Assad is in the licensed trade in Ruairi’s, Tralee and Mick Collins great-granddaughter ,Fiona Kirby and her husband are the proprietors of The Brogue Inn, Tralee.
And Jerry Collins’ great- granddaughter Sinead Belton played in the Primary Schools’ GAA competition in Croke Park in 2011.
Collins descendants from as far a-field as South Africa and the UK will be gathering in Farranfore on December 6th to recount and celebrate the lives and achievements of their ancestors.
It has the makings of a fascinating programme and, in Weeshie’s capable hands, will be well worth waiting for the broadcast date. As usual all are welcome.