St. Brigids of Co. Roscommon Straddling the Westmeath County
Border and the Town of Athlone
While the name of Craobh Cumann Naomh Brid did not make its first affiliated appearance until 1944, we know of course that our games were being played officially for many long years before then under the names of Kiltoom, Curraghboy or Brideswell, depending I suppose on where the most enthusiastic bunch of players came from at the given period.
The earliest record of football activity, was from a Kiltoom team in January of 1889, when they defeated a team from St. Johns, on a scoreline of, and I hereby quote the Westmeath Independent of the period, “Kiltoom 3 goals and several points to St Johns no score”.
Perhaps the electronic scoreboard broke down on the day! They certainly held the upper hand over St Johns in that era, as a return game on March 23rd of the same year, saw Kiltoom on this occasion emerge winners, by one goal and six points, while the opposition was again held scoreless.
1919 saw a team from Curraghboy contest and win the South Roscommon Championship of that year. Whilst playing activity continued unabated throughout the 1920's, 30's and 40's, there was no major success of note. However our players were not going unnoticed, as John Magee ,Paddy Kenny of Lysterfield and Larry Cummins, were selected to play on the Roscommon minor team of 1938.The following year of 1939 saw Larry and Paddy Donnelly become the very first players from the parish, and the club, to capture coveted All Ireland medals, when lining out with the victorious Roscommon Minor football team of that year.
While the game of hurling has never succeeded in becoming a force in the club, the most serious attempt was made away back in 1920, when introduced to Brideswell national school, by the then newly appointed Principal, a Corkman called Patrick O'Sullivan. This small beginning would eventually see the affiliation of a hurling club, called Brideswell in 1941, under the guidance of one George Harrison.
Through the aforementioned Corkman, it is not surprising that the team colours, were red and white. Sadly however this club would only last for about two years, but the jerseys at least would remain in service, becoming the official St. Brigid's colours of the footballers, which George had now turned his attention to, becoming their chairman in 1944, thus the arrival for the first time of the present club name.
The current club administrators will envy the fact that the next set of jersies would not be purchased until 1948, although it may have been a case of cash flow problems, rather than not being needed. This purchase would witness yet another colour change, this time to blue and white. But what the heck, they were coming at the knockdown price of eight pounds, (then still a lot of money nevertheless) due to slight anomaly in the stripe formation, which I am reliably informed, never interfered with the wearers performances.
So to the present green and red. Since these colours arrived, they have been steadfast since 1953, and again was decided by accident rather than design. A Miss Docherty, who ran a woollen mills at the time in Athleague, was approached to manufacture a new set of blue and white jersies, but on being informed that she only had red and green wool in stock, she was told to proceed. We can only assume that the constitution was duly amended
The clubs major breakthrough came in 1952-'53, with the winning of the county junior title, and resultant senior final, at the very first attempt. Thankfully, succeeding in holding on to its senior status since then, Craobh Cumann Naomh Brid has continued to flourish through the intervening years, with huge strides being made in the areas of underage activity and development of games facilities. This of course is only possible because of the massive, and greatly appreciated support financially and otherwise, from the entire community
In somewhat similar fashion to the hurling endeavours, Camogie has had a chequered history in the club, despite huge efforts by various people at various times. The Roscommon Champion tells us that a Kiltoom team played and defeated Strokestown in 1913, which represents a great achievement at the time, given that the national camogie board was only formed in 1904. Roscommon County Camogie Board was formed in 1912. The next period that we know of, is the founding of a Brideswell Club in 1941, in conjunction with the hurling club, but sadly, it too seemed to expire with the disbanding of same.
A rather unusual decision at a club AGM in 1948, saw a camogie sub committee set up to promote the game, but strangely enough it consisted entirely of, yes, you have guessed correctly, all men. It should be pointed out that encouragement from higher bodies was not always forthcoming. This was due to the non existence, at various periods from the 1930's right up to 1966, of county committees which did not even exist. Brigid's efforts continued however through the 1960's, with the first ever title at county level achieved in 1971, in the form of a 10 a side winter league.
Another serious revival in 1982 saw the most fruitful run enjoyed by camogie, with county junior championship wins in 1984 and '86, followed by the league and championship double in 1987, but sadly the end of that decade would see yet another decline in the game, with no revival since.
The mid 1970's however would see the arrival of Ladies Gaelic football to our club, and despite the predictions of the sceptics at the time, it has in the ensuing years, gone from strength to strength, and now enjoys its rightful place in our sporting calendar.
With the formation of the first Roscommon County Board in 1974, St Brigids made their maiden voyage when fielding their very first girls team in the following year of 1975. As this initial effort came purely from the interest of the girls themselves, it was probably through lack of adult support, more than anything else, that their gallant efforts did not survive too long. The most serious and lasting attempt would not come until the early 1990's, and the first encouraging signs were witnessed in 1992, when reaching the county U16 final of that year, going under to the more vastly experienced Padraig Pearses side.
Defeat would be their lot again in 1994 when losing to St. Failles in the junior final. However since 1998 real progress has been made which has seen county titles captured at U12,14,16,Minor and 9 and 15 a side, Junior and Intermediate. The year of 2004 will of course always belong to that highly committed and dedicated bunch of girls who carved St. Brigids greatest ever chapter in history, with the winning of what will always remain an unforgettable All Ireland Title.
Undaunted by the move into Senior ranks, they have captured the county title in this grade without a break up to and including 2008. While the senior mens side made their own piece of history in 2007, by capturing their third county title in a row, not forgetting of course that great Connaught title in 2006. They were well and truly upstaged by their U21 counterparts, who captured an amazing seventh consecutive county title in 2008.
The Clubs headquarters of course stands at Newpark in Kiltoom, where development has continued through the years, since the original purchase of five and a quarter acres for the large sum of one hundred and fifteen pounds in 1953.
Thanks in no small way to the continued support of the community and the clubs many generous sponsors, St. Brigids can now boast of three floodlit pitches, as well of course, as its Handball complex at Curraghboy, and can also feel justly proud of its achievements as the GAA arrives into the135th year of its existence.