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The first Poc Fada in 1960

“Three Boys on the Cooley Mountain at the start of the Poc Fada circa 1962”

Cooley Mountains

Three Boys on the Cooley Mountain © GAA Museum Link

The review from the Dundalk Democrat 13th August 1960...

Fatima Youth Club - Mountain Golf

St. Moninne’s Youth Club, Fatima, has advanced another step with the acquisition of a railway carriage as a meeting place and sports pavilion which was installed at Fatima on Thursday. The energetic local committee, headed by Fr. Johnson, C.C. transported it in two sections to the site. All being well the premises will be opened on Sunday afternoon when prizes for the “mountain golfers” will be presented.
Setanta of Dundealgan drove the hurling ball to shorten his journey to Eamhain Macha – true or false? Anyhow it happened so long ago – over two thousand years or so – that there’s not much hope of proving or disproving it now.
Six Dundealgan boys drove the ball before them with camans, travelling over the mountain peaks of Annaverna to Achadhmin – a distance of four or five miles – true or false? False, on or before Sunday, 7th Aug. 1960; but true as from the evening of Monday, Aug. 8.
On that morning a party from Cumann Ogra Naomh Moninne (organisation which caters for outdoor pastimes of youth in the lower end of Castletown district, with headquarters in Fatima) set out on their bicycles aiming to climb to the top of Annaverna mountain. This being successfully accomplished (with the aid of a few mugs of “cha” on the way) they commenced a competition, the equivalent of which has never been seen hereabouts before.
Each of the six boys had a caman and a sliothar and as the party moved off over the mountain peak, the boys in turn drove the sliothar before them (as they would in a “poc-out” in a hurling match). The contest was who would drive the sliothar right across all the mountain peaks from Annaverna to Achadhmin, a distance of four or five miles, in the lesser number of pocs. Away ahead of each competitor was an umpire who placed a flag on the spot where the sliothar had landed, and two “seconds” whose duty it was to watch the sliothar closely, lest it be lost. As competitors, spectators and officials progressed over the grassy slopes and crests amid shouts of encouragement and cheers of praise, they could enjoy an unrivalled view of the nine or ten counties of Down, Antrim, Armagh, Monaghan, Louth, Cavan, Tir Eoghan, Meath, Dublin and Wicklow. To the left, Carlingford Lough, the majestic Mournes and the open sea; to the right, Sliabh Guillion (looking not so big now); further on, their own brown tiled homes in Castletown; the spires, chimneys and Bay of Dundealgan; the smoking-chimney stack of “Drogheda Cement”; the plains of Royal Meath; Ireland’s Eye and the cone-shaped Sugar loaf in Wicklow.
It took about three hours to complete the course. As the first boy took the last poc to make a total of 115, he must have been very conscious that not only was he the winner of the competition, but more important, he was the first-ever, man or boy, to perform this feat. Following close were the other five (all six are under 16) finishing in great style, not a whit the worse for their long trek.
The final result was Damian O’Cathalain, 115; Jerome Mac Donncha, 117; Peadar O Miles, 125; Peadar Mac Raghallaí, 127; Sean Mc Aneanaí, 134; Malachí O Beagloich, 153.
They all look forward to a victory celebration when trophies will be presented and the “first-ever poc fada from Annaverna to Achadhmin” will be celebrated in song, verse and story.

Having descended from the blue hills of Cooley to the Plain of Muirtheimhne, the boys of Cumann Ogra Naomh Moninne are preparing for their return challenge match with Castleblayney in Bainseach Fatima next Sunday at 3 o’c. A month or six weeks ago, these under 16 hurlers travelled to ‘Blayney and beat the selection of five ‘Blayney teams in a rousing match. The boys from County Monaghan have since greatly improved, so we may expect a close finish.

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