Wednesday, 4 August 2021

How Georgie Comerford
played football for four
counties and two provinces

Georgie Comerford is remembered as as Miltown Malbay’s greatest-ever footballer … he played for four counties and two provinces

Patrick Comerford

During my visits to Co Clare and Co Galway in recent weeks as part of this summer’s continuing ‘road trip,’ I have visited a number of houses associated with the Comerford family in places such as Spanish Point, Miltown Malbay, Ennistymon, Kilfenora and Kinvara.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to revise and update my family trees for different branches of the Comerford family in Co Clare and Co Galway. However, one well-known Comerford in Co Clare, with family connections in Limerick, seemed to continue to evade my efforts to find his place on the family tree.

George (‘Georgie’) William Comerford (1911-1988) was a member of An Garda Síochána and was a well-known Gaelic footballer who is remembered as Miltown Malbay’s greatest-ever footballer. He played football for four counties – Clare, Louth, Dublin and Kildare; and he played inter-provincial football for two provinces – Munster and Leinster.

Georgie Comerford was born in Whitegate, Co Clare, on 25 January 1911. But despite his name, he does not seem to have been closely related to two similarly-named contemporaries: George Comerford, who was a publican in Doonbeg, Co Clare; and George Comerford, whose father, Harry Comerford, was the station master in Ennistymon.

Instead, this Georgie Comerford’s father was Daniel Comerford (1866-1913), a sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and his grandfather was John Comerford, a farmer in Loughtagne, near Stradbally, Queen’s County (Co Laois).

Daniel Comerford was born on 2 January 1866 near Stradbally. He joined the Royal Irish Constabulary on 22 November 1888 and was posted to Co Limerick on 29 June 1889. On 12 July 1898, Daniel married Mary Anne Murphy, daughter of Thomas Murphy, carpenter, in Saint Michael’s Church, Limerick.

When he married, Daniel was transferred from Co Limerick to Co Clare, and he was an RIC constable, living at Ennis Road, Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, in 1901 and 1906.

Daniel was promoted Acting Sergeant on 1 January 1908 and became Sergeant-in-Charge of Quin RIC Station. Later that year, he was transferred to Whitegate RIC Station and was promoted to Sergeant on 1 October 1909. He was Sergeant-in-Charge of Whitegate RIC Station in 1908-1913.

Daniel died on 24 October 1913, at Whitegate, Co Clare, and was buried in Clonrush. His family then returned to Miltown Malbay, where Mary Anne died on 20 December 1946.

Mary Anne and Daniel Comerford were the parents of seven children:

1, John Alphonsus Comerford (1899-1902), born Limerick City 2 June 1899, died 2 December 1902, buried Ballard, Milton Malbay.
2, Thomas Gerard Comerford (1900-1900), born 24 July 1900, died 27 August 1900.
3, Eleanor Maud (1901-1986), born Miltown Malbay 13 June 1901, died 1986.
4, Daniel Christopher Comerford (1903-1980).
5, Joseph Comerford (1905-post 1930), born Miltown Malbay, 4 May 1905.
6, Michael Henry Comerford (1906-1906), born Miltown Malbay 29 April 1906, died 19 June 1906.
7, George (‘Georgie’) William Comerford, the famous Co Clare footballer.

The eldest surviving son, Daniel Christopher Comerford (1902-1980), was born Miltown Malbay on 10 December 1902. On 4 August 1922, he joined the new National Army as an infantry private, during the Irish Civil War.

Daniel emigrated to New York in 1925 and lived there for at least five years before returning to Miltown Malbay. In the 1930 census, Daniel and his brother Joseph are recorded as living in Astoria, Queens, with their cousins the Furlongs.

Daniel returned to Co Clare and he married in Miltown Malbay on 7 June 1939 Emelia (Amy) Wilson (1907-2003), a daughter of Leonard Wilson (1867-1932) from Portadown, Co Armagh. Leonard joined the RIC in 1888 and was posted to Clare that year. He married Bridget McMahon (1865-1934) in Miltown Malbay and was posted to Co Limerick in 1898. While he was stationed in Limerick, Bridget ran the family business, Wilson’s Pub, on Main Street, Miltown Malbay. Leonard was promoted Acting Sergeant on 1 October 1902 and Sergeant on 1 December 1905. He retired in April 1913, and when he died on 10 April 1932, he was buried in the Church of Ireland churchyard in Miltown Malbay.

Sergeant Daniel Comerford’s youngest child, Georgie Comerford, was born in Whitegate, Co Clare, on 25 January 1911, and he was only two when his father died. He attended primary school in Miltown Malbay and secondary school in Ennistymon. Miltown won the first minor championship in Co Clare in 1924, and won it again in 1926 and 1927. Georgie Comerford was on all those teams and played with the Clare minors in 1929 when they won the All-Ireland.

He joined the Garda Síochána in the late 1920s. He was the only non-Kerry player on the victorious Munster Railway Cup team in 1931, when all other 14 team members were from Co Kerry. He was a member of the Ireland selection for the Tailteann Games in 1932, representing his native Co Clare.

He played in the All-Ireland final for Dublin at Croke Park in 1934, when Galway scored 3-05 to Dublin’s 1-09. He also won a Railway Cup medal with Leinster in 1935, this time representing Dublin.

As a garda, he was stationed in Athy, Co Kildare, for a number of years in the mid-1930s. He captained the senior championship winning team in 1937, and played for Co Kildare in the Leinster Final in 1938, when, for the second time in three years, Kildare were defeated by Laois.

When he was in his mid-40s, George Comerford played football for Co Louth and won a championship with Dundalk Gaels in 1945. In retirement, he returned to live in Co Clare. He died on 20 July 1988 in Miltown Malbay and was buried in Ballard Cemetery.

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
67, the Chapel, the Achilleion Palace

Inside the chapel in the Achilleion Palace, Corfu … built for ‘Sisi,’ the Austrian Empress Elisabeth, after the tragedy at Mayerling in 1889 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is focussing this week on USPG’s links with the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Church in Japan, and this week’s anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.

I am working on the final details of my address as President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Irish CND) at Friday’s Hiroshima Day commemorations in Merrion Square, Dublin. But, before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

During this time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

This week’s theme is seven churches on the Greek island of Corfu, and my photographs this morning (4 August 2021) are of the chapel in the Achilleion Palace, south of Corfu city.

The large painting in the apse of the chapel in the Achilleion Palace depicts the trial of Christ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Achilleion Palace in Gastouri, 10 km south of Corfu city, was built for ‘Sisi,’ the Austrian Empress Elisabeth, at the suggestion of the Austrian consul, Alexander von Warsberg. She was deeply saddened by the death of her only son, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, at Mayerling in 1889, and she had this summer palace built as a refuge a year later.

Achilleion provides a panoramic view of the city to the north, and across the southern part of the island and the Ionian Sea. The architectural style of the palace is said to have been inspired by the mythical palace of Phaeacia, and the motif centres on the myth of Achilles.

The first room on the right off the main entrance hall was the Empress Elisabeth’s private chapel, and is decorated with a apse fresco of Christ on trial before Pilate, a large painting of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child, and images of the Virgin Mary.

This Roman Catholic chapel is a work of art in itself. While the rest of the palace was inspired by classical Greek culture, the chapel was decorated in the Baroque style.

The large painting in the apse of the chapel depicts the trial of Christ. Above the altar there is a large painting of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child in a golden frame. Along the walls and in niches are statues and paintings of the Virgin Mary and saints.

None of the owners of the palace after the Empress was a Roman Catholic, so the chapel may never have served its original purpose after 1907. But through the Achilleion Palace the Empress Elisabeth influenced style and taste throughout Greece at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The walls in Sisi’s chapel are decorated with paintings and images of the Virgin Mary and saints (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 15: 21-28 (NRSVA):

21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ 23 But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ 24 He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ 26 He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 27 She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ 28 Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

A painting of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child above the seas (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (4 August 2021) invites us to pray:

May we remember the tragedy of the bombing of Hiroshima. Let it remind us of the devastating impact of nuclear weapons, and strengthen our resolve to work towards a world free of such weapons.br />
Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The decorative work in the chapel reflects Sisi’s maternal grief after Mayerling (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Achilleion Palace in Gastouri, 10 km south of Corfu city, influenced style and taste throughout Greece at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)