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Tug o' War in Garrafrauns



Throughout the West of Ireland the Annual Local Sports day was an eagerly awaited event for many communities. Garrafrauns had organised very successful sports days during the late 40’s and the 50’s. While the event lapsed during the 60’s and early 70’s it was resurrected again in 1979. This 1979 sports day took place in a field just south west of the local primary school. As well as a mixture of races for young and old and a selection of popular side shows the highlight of the event was the inter village tug o war for both ladies and men. Such was the enthusiasm for the sport it was agreed that “outside” teams would be invited to the following year’s sports where they would be challenged by the “locals.”  In 1980 the sports were arranged for “Reddingtons” field just across from the old school. This field has had a long history of staging events such as horse racing, 7 a side football and dance carnivals.

At Hollymount SportsAt Hollymount Sports

Back; Pat Hession, Christy Varley, (unknown), Tommy Keaveney, Patrick Greaney;
Front; Johnny Kielty, Lawrence Ryder, Michael Greene, Christy Reddington

In the final the local tug o' war lads pulled a much vaunted Castlegar team from the outskirts of Galway city. Unfortunately the locals were overcome by the combination of technique and power of the visitors. With their pride severely dented after losing in front of their home supporters they vowed to be ready for all comers the following summer.
Meanwhile Dunmore Festival committee was also organising an annual Sports Day on August Monday and a victory at this prestigious sports would ensure bragging rights for the remainder of the year.

On the Rope in Dunmore FestivalOn the Rope in Dunmore FestivalThe following spring a new rope was purchased, a barrel of concrete was filled and the hoist erected. The local pump house became the clubhouse and sound of “take the strain” and “pull” echoed through the shrill evening air. All the hard work was paying off and the finely tuned local athletes gained their revenge on the “Castlegars” on home ground in 1983 while becoming the parish kingpins in Dunmore on August Monday.

Relishing a challenge, the Tug o War teams of ladies and men hit the road . To Cahirlistrane and Castlegar, to Kiltevna and Kilconly, to Ballinlough,to Holymount and Ballindine, to Granlahan and Irishtown they travelled with varying degrees of success.
In 1983 they also affiliated with the Connaught Tug o war Branch. They were now participating at a much higher level while all the time gaining valuable experience at “pulls” in Bangor Erris, Ballinagar, Elphin, Ballyhaunis, Creggs, Ballintrillick, Foxford, Carracastle and Claremorris on the last Sunday in August .
In 1986 the Garrafrauns Club were given the privilege of hosting the Connaught Championships in Greaneys’ field. While they were runners up in the 600kg. and 640kg. classes they were crowned champions of Connaught in the 680kg. class in Claremorris later in the summer. In 1986 they also hosted a “club” day for all the clubs of Connaught.
While still plying their craft on the local and Connaught scenes this ambitious group decided to go “international”. Following an invitation from the Dunmore-Querrin Twinning Association, a team traveled to Northern France to take on the Breton Champions. This group of 13, professional as ever, first ensured victory over their hosts before enjoying a well deserved holiday.
Connaught ChampionsConnaught Champions


Back; John Kielty, Christy Varley, Christy Reddington, Pat Hession, P.J.Quinn, John Corley, Dave Hestor, Mattie McGrath
Front; Michael Greene, Vincent Connolly, Sean Healy, John Lally, Paddy Hosty


From the lofty heights of pulling on the international stage it was now becoming more difficult to maintain the high level of enthusiasm and  dedication to training. Interest began to wane even though teams continued to pull on the local circuit for a number of years. They eventually disbanded in 1990 after a decade of enjoyment and many happy memories.


In Ballycastle In Ballycastle


Back; Mattie McGrath(coach), Christy Varley, Pat Hession, Christy Reddington, Johnny Kielty
Front; Paddy Hosty; John Lally, Vincent Connolly, John Corley
Fergus Hession, Denise Hession