Many’s the time have I been asked if I had any photographs of activity in The Polo Grounds.
This was the field of dreams for the population of the bottom-of-the-town and for the boys from the Killarney and Tralee roads in particular.
It was a patch of ground of hardly an acre in total. But there were games of confined golf, soccer, Gaelic football and hurling played there.
They were as important as any ever played in Croke Park. Oh! and boxing, under no particular rules, was a frequent consequence of the keenness of the encounters there.
The ground belonged to the Great Southern and Western Railways. There are young people now who don’t realise that Castleisland was a town to which a railway ran for over a century from 1875.
Entertained the Boys from the Top
It was a place where the bottom-of-the-town teams ‘entertained’ the boys from the top. And there was always back-up as the grown-ups from the area were always walking the railway tracks which ran parallel to the grounds.
The likes of publicans, Paddy Hussey and Chris McGillicuddy and The Barber, Tom Brennan Snr could be counted on as guardian angels.
And you had the likes of Paddy and Mick Coffey cycling in or going back home and the odd member of An Garda Siochána would cast an eye over us.
Sit and Watch
They would often sit and watch and urge on their boys against ‘the useless collops from the top-of-the-town’ as The Barber was likely to throw in and add intensity to the confrontation of the day.
While I don’t have any photographs of ‘The Polo’ from its heyday, I do have a couple from the early 1980s.
These pictures were taken of what I called at the time ‘The Railway Children’ in July 1983 – while the pictures of the railway furniture were taken in June 1982 and 1983.
The Railway Yard
We were living at No. 4 Tralee Road at the time and the railway yard and ‘The Polo’ were just out the back.
I’ll let the pictures off without captions for now and see how many people can put names to the faces involved.
The other pictures will bring back fond memories to many Castleislanders who used ‘The Tracks’ for their daily recreation. The ‘Back the Tracks’ went on for several generations up to the bitter dispute which split town and country over the future of the walk in the early 1990s.
The Polo Grounds is now under the new Castleisland Area Services Centre and maybe a bit of it under Divane’s yard.
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