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Two Celtics and a 100 Year Record  

Much has been made of Celtic’s recent record unbeaten streak which stretches back 100 years – but do you know about the Belfast Celtic influence that played a part in making it possible? For 62 games, between November 1915 and April 1917, no team got the better of the Glasgow Hoops, but a key member of the brother club, Belfast Celtic, helped make it happen. As the newspapers of the time bugled details of the unbridled slaughter in Europe, imperious Celtic manager, Newry born Willie Maley, found himself in a bind during one of the bloodiest years of the last century.

In Ireland, the capital city was rent asunder after a British warship destroyed Dublin’s city centre, extinguishing the Easter Rising, partly led by ex-Belfast Celtic goalkeeper Oscar Traynor, who commanded one of the city’s key central garrisons for the Irish Republican Army. But at Paradise, Maley was facing a problem of an altogether different kind. ‘Sunny’ Jim Young, who in total would play 443 times for Celtic, had picked up a serious knee injury in September of that year.  Young had captained the side for the previous four years and was Maley’s talisman on the park – in fact, many believed Young was being groomed to eventually replace Maley in the Celtic hot-seat.

The Military Service Act was instituted in March 1916 and tens of thousands of fit, young men found themselves conscripted into the ranks of the British Army and flung into the meat grinder at The Somme. Celtic lost several players and staff and by the autumn of 1916 Celtic were lagging behind rivals Rangers in the league. But as the leaves began to fall, Maley needed inspiration and he found it in Belfast. Mickey Hamill – arguably Ireland’s greatest ever footballer - had joined Belfast Celtic from the junior ranks in 1909. Starting at inside right, Hamill’s skill, strength and smarts with a ball soon meant he was shifted to centre half, to play in the coveted ‘pivot’ position.

Manchester United scouts had spotted Hamill in a friendly match between the Celtic’s of Glasgow and Belfast. On Christmas Eve 1910, the Mancunians parted with £175 for his services to bring him to the newly opened Old Trafford. But a contract row exploded just a few years later and as international carnage loomed, Mickey returned to Belfast to re-join the Belfast ‘Stripes’.The ‘Darling of the Falls’ was welcomed back with open arms by the Donegall Road faithful and he marked his return by leading Ireland to a 3-0 trouncing of English as they claimed the ‘Home’ Championship.

In October 1916, a request was sent to Belfast Celtic to ask Hamill to play for the Glasgow brother club and this was readily accepted. Making his debut against Morton on October 21, Hamill turned out at centre-half, flanked by James Wilson and Willie McStay, who would return Maley’s favour two years later by helping Belfast Celtic lift their first ever Irish Cup in the final of 1918. Quality was all around Hamill as he stripped alongside fabled goalkeeper Charlie Shaw, who had accepted the captaincy after the loss of ‘Sunny’ Jim Young. It was rare for goalkeepers to captain teams in those days (and I suppose, it still is) and it must have been a testament to him that Maley had no issue making the move.

Outfield Hamill stood amongst the true legends of the game - ‘The Mighty Atom’ Patsy Gallacher, ‘The Icicle’ Alec McNair (so-called because he was so cool on the ball), the great ‘Napoleon’ Jimmy McMenemy and ‘Sniper’ Jimmy McColl – who would later manage Belfast Celtic in the 1930’s. A steady draw greeted his first game, followed by a goal-less home draw against rivals Rangers. A 2-1 victory at Dens Park against Dundee followed and a then 3-1 win against Queen’s Park at Hampden. A home draw against Partick Thistle was then followed by an odd-goal victory against Aberdeen at Paradise on the same day the Glasgow Herald was reporting the sinking of Titanic’s sister ship The Britannic. For Hamill’s final game on December 9, Ayr United came to town, bringing a team that featured Alec Shankly, whose brother Bill would later achieve legendary status with Liverpool. A Patsy Gallacher hat-trick was added to by goals from Jimmy McMenemy and John Browning in a five nil rout leaving Celtic on top of the league ahead of Morton and Airdrieonians, with Rangers now languishing in fourth. Maley’s ship had been well and truly steadied.

Hamill was hot property and teams from England were soon seeking his services. While Belfast Celtic were cruising in the Irish League, which had been dropped to intermediate status in wartime, in mid-December ‘Celt’ noted in the Irish News; “Mick Hamill has played in England, Scotland and Ireland on three successive Saturdays which is a record he holds all to himself – there has never been an instance of this heretofore.” Glasgow Celtic’s unbeaten streak would extend into April 1917 and would stand at 62 games – this British record stood until November 4, 2017 as Celtic moved into 63 game territory with the win against St Johnstone at MacDiarmid Park, under the leadership of another Irishman, Brendan Rodgers.

Hamill would go onto be a bona fide legend of the game, later returning to Manchester to pay with Man City, before being feted at the White House in Washington DC as a player with Boston Soccer Club in the USA. He played for Ireland against Scotland in the "Victory International" at Ibrox Park on March 22 1919 and demented the home fans by hollering ‘Celtic’s Ball’ each time Ireland won a throw in. He would return to Belfast in 1926 and inspire the Stripes to four league victories in a row, hanging up his boots aged almost 40 and taking the managerial reigns at near neighbours Distillery. His Centre Half Bar was a popular establishment on the Falls Road and in 1931, after a friendly game in at Belfast’s Paradise, Glasgow Celtic left the recently acquired Scottish Cup on display in his establishment for two weeks while they travelled to America.

No Irish player has made the impression on football left by Mickey Hamill – across four decades, four countries, two continents and both ‘Celtics’.It’s a source of deep pride with the Irish faithful that he played his part in a 100 year old football record streak, finally broken by the Glasgow hoops he cherished all his days.



Sad loss of key link to Belfast Celtic's past

A key link with Belfast Celtic's past has been lost, as former player Jimmy Donnelly has passed away in Belfast. Signed by Belfast Celtic in their last season in football in 1949, Jimmy would go on to be one of the keepers of the club's history and a founder member of the Belfast Celtic Society.

Always a popular figure at Society events, Jimmy would recall with great accuracy the stories and lore of Belfast Celtic and loved to pass on the names of the club's greatest players to younger audiences. Indeed, one of his last engagements with the Belfast Celtic Society was participating in the Road to Paradise Inter-generational Outreach Programme, funded by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, which helped pass the story of the club to children and young people.

In 1949, as Belfast Celtic withdrew from football, Jimmy was loaned to Irish League newcomers Crusaders with other young players, like Leo McGuigan and Vincent Morrison from Derry.

In 2001, he was among the Belfast Celtic legends who were feted on the pitch at Celtic Park in Glasgow by then manager Martin O'Neill, who brought the old  stars to enjoy the celebrations of the Glasgow Bhoys' Treble winning season.

An accountant by trade, Jimmy helped keep the Society on an even keel and did sterling work tracing the graves of former players and figures associated with the club, which were dotted across Belfast.

As well as playing soccer, he was a member of the O'Donovan Rossa Gaelic Athletic Club in West Belfast and until recently had been immersed in the preparations for that club's centenary year, gathering artifacts and contacting former players and officials. Padraig Coyle, Belfast Celtic Society Chairman, said; "There will be few members of our Society who did not come across Jimmy Donnelly at some stage and our deep condolences are with his family.

"Jimmy was a founder member of the Society and served as Honourary Vice President for many years, leaving a deep and lasting impression with all who met him. More than most, he was responsible for keeping the name Belfast Celtic alive in the dark years of the 70's and 80's and he was heavily involved in the reunion galas in 1989 and 1991. He appeared on radio and television frequently to talk about Belfast Celtic and only last summer he was instrumental in the Irish News producing a twelve page supplement on the history of the Grand Old Team. At this sad time, our thoughts are with the Donnelly circle and we urge all Society members to attend his funeral once the details are announced. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam."


Ossie Bailey - Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

It is with deep and sincere regret that our Society has learned our Honourary Life Member and former Belfast Celtic goalkeeper Oswald Bailey has passed away. Ossie was plucked from Ards by manager Elisha Scott in 1948 and remained at the club during its final season, before moving on to Cliftonville and Distillery, as well as turning out for his hometown club Ballymena United. On Christmas Day 1948, Ossie debuted against Ballymena in a 5-0 win, before first choice goalkeeper Kevin McAlinden returned between the sticks for the infamous 'Windsor Riot' game, just two days later.

McAlinden was badly beaten after the game, which led to a prolonged absence for recuperation, allowing Ossie to retain the Number 1 jersey at Belfast's 'Paradise'. He had hoped to join the team on its tour of the USA in May and June 1949, but McAlinden's return shattered this dream. Ossie played as an amateur throughout his football career, allowing him to maintain his 'all-rounder' status by participating in both tennis and cricket, in which he excelled. He also received a representative cap, turning out for Ireland vs England in 1955 at Solitude.

Later in life, Ossie was a dedicated member of the Belfast Celtic Society and a regular attendee at Society events. In 2005, the former players were given a Civic Reception at Belfast City Hall, by then Lord Mayor Pat McCarthy and Ossie took great pride in signing the visitors book in the Mayor's Parlour. In 2009, 0n the 50th anniversary of the passing of his old manager Elisha Scott, Ossie shrugged off recent cardiac surgery and travelled to his graveside, where he met with his old team mate Jimmy Jones and veteran journalist Malcom Brodie, who not only mentioned Ossie in his graveside oration, but also in his report on the event for the Belfast Telegraph. Two years ago, Ossie celebrated his 90th birthday at home with his loving family and the Belfast Celtic Society presented him with a framed picture of the occasion.

Oswald Bailey passed away on Saturday, December 2nd, 2015 at Antrim Area Hospital, aged 92, leaving behind him an incredibly rich sporting legacy. A gentleman until the end, he will be sadly missed by everyone in the Belfast Celtic Society. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Grand old prize for the Belfast Celtic Cup

A very special prize has been offered to the team who wins this year’s Belfast Celtic Cup, taking place at Willowbank Park in West Belfast on Sunday, October 25. A grand day out at Celtic Park in Glasgow awaits this year’s champions, courtesy of Celtic charity The Kano Foundation.

Established by Celtic supporters in 2009, the Kano Foundation was founded to bring Celtic fan Martin Kane back to Scotland after he developed a rare brain syndrome while in Australia. Since then, the Foundation has provided free entry tickets to over 3,000 children and mentors to enjoy the special atmosphere of a match day at Celtic Park.

Belfast Celtic Society President, Charlie Tully Junior, said; “This is an incredible boost to our tournament. The Kano Foundation is a very special charity as it passes on the torch of supporting Celtic to the next generation, just as the name Belfast Celtic has been passed down through the years. Our deepest gratitude goes to everyone at the Kano Foundation but particularly to Joe Mackin who approached us regarding this very special prize, which we were delighted to accept. I can’t wait for this year’s tournament to kick off and can’t wait to see the winning team across the Irish Sea at Paradise."

Reflecting on the first Belfast Celtic Cup in 2014, Charlie Tully Junior said: "Last year's tournament was such a success, it was humbling - given it's been nearly seven decades since Belfast Celtic last kicked a competitive ball. To see so many young people there enjoying the football, but also taking in the history of Belfast Celtic in the museum, was incredible for me. The teams came from all across the north, from some of the biggest clubs here, to local community teams, the whole event was a great fiesta of football.”

Organised by the Belfast Celtic Society, founded in 2003 to protect the heritage of the team, last year’s Belfast Celtic Cup was scooped by old rivals Linfield after a thrilling penalty shoot-out with Cliftonville, while the inaugural Charlie Tully Shield was clinched by the Lurgan Blues of Glenavon.

Second Belfast Celtic Cup All Set

It may be 66 years since Belfast Celtic last kicked a ball, but a football tournament will be held in its honour for the second time on October 25, 2015. The Belfast Celtic Cup premiered last autumn, with sixteen under-12 football squads from across the north competing for the inaugural trophy – and accompanying shield named after star player Charlie Tully.

Held at Willowbank Park, in the shadow of the old Celtic Park, the event was sponsored by the Park Centre, where a museum capturing the exploits of the Grand Old Club exists today. The Highland Hoops Celtic Supporters Club, based in Inverness in Scotland, also provided funding to help the tournament take place.

With teams travelling from as far away as Lurgan and Downpatrick, the cup competition was organised by the Belfast Celtic Society, founded in 2003 to protect the heritage of the team. The Belfast Celtic Cup was scooped by old rivals Linfield after a thrilling penalty shoot out with Cliftonviille.

You can read more here.

Louis Bookman - Belfast Celtic's Winger and Cricketer

The history of Belfast Celtic is speckled with dramatic stories of both the team and the individual players who graced Celtic Park over the years. Louis James Arthur Oscar Buchalter is just such a story.

Born in the small Lithuanian village of Zagare, then part of the Russian Empire, the family were Lithuanian Jews and fled the pogroms to Ireland in 1890. They settled in Dublin and the family name was changed to Bookman.

Bookman was a diminutive winger and played for Celtic in the 1910-11 season before being spotted and transferred to English club Bradford City in 1911. He represented Ireland in both football and cricket. Bradford City fan Ian Hemmens has written an excellent piece on Louis Bookman for the Bantams online fanzine.

You can read the whole article on Belfast Celtics cricketting winger here.

You can read more about Bradford City here.



First Belfast Celtic Cup A Huge Success

Belfast Celtic Society President Charlie Tully Junior was delighted with the success of the inaugural Belfast Celtic Cup and Charlie Tully Shield, named after his father, which took place in Belfast this weekend.

"It is our firm desire that this competition becomes firmly fixed as an annual tournament in local football and we will endeavour to make that a reality, given the success of the inaugural tournament." he said. " Our humblest thanks go to Raymond Bonner and Martin McKiernan, without whom the Belfast Celtic Cup would still be a dream and also Jim Shaw and Jim Magilton from the IFA for their honouring us with their presence."

"Lastly, a huge word of thanks to Willowbank FC - they are a credit to the West Belfast community and were perfect hosts for the occasion and it is fitting they now play on land once owned by Belfast Celtic." You can read the rest of this original article here

Inaugural Belfast Celtic Cup and Charlie Tully Shield

A unique cross-community youth football tournament will resurrect the name of one of Ireland’s greatest football clubs on Sunday, October 26.

Sixteen teams will compete for the inaugural Belfast Celtic Cup at Willowbank Park, in the shadow of the old Celtic Park, now home of the Park Centre in West Belfast.

Travelling from as far away as Donegal and Downpatrick, under -12 squads will compete for the cup named in honour of Belfast’s Grand Old Team, which last kicked a ball in competitive action in 1949.

Organised by the Belfast Celtic Society, who also manage a club museum at the Park Centre, the tournament has attracted sponsorship from the shopping centre itself and the Highland Hoops Celtic Supporters Club, based in Inverness in Scotland.

You can read more here.

The Belfast Celtic Story Visits Ardoyne

The Grand Old Team will be fondly remembered this Thursday, 21st August in the Crumlin Star (9.00pm start) as the ‘Belfast Celtic Story’ debuts in Ardoyne. Bill McKavanagh's show recalls all the glory that made Celtic Ireland’s top side. A special guest on the night will be Jimmy Donnelly, Celtic’s last ever signing.

The infamous Linfield Celtic game in 1948 will also be recalled in vivid detail on a night not to be missed.  Hosted by author Barry Flynn.

New President and Vice President for the Belfast Celtic Society

A son of a Celtic legend has risen to the Presidency of the Belfast Celtic Society. Charlie Tully Junior has become new Honorary President of the Society, replacing the recently deceased Jimmy Jones, a legendary striker for the team in the 1940’s.

Charlie, son of the Belfast and Glasgow Celtic legend whose name he carries with pride, accepted the nomination for the Presidency of the Society on April 16, 2014, shortly before an event to mark the culmination of the Road to Paradise Outreach Programme, which helped spread the Celtic Story to audiences in communities beyond west Belfast.

Since 2009, Charlie has been Society Vice-President, deputising for Jimmy Jones at a plethora of events and engagements and being the very public face for Society activities. Jimmy Jones had served as President since the Society’s inception in 2003 and had always been a popular figure at events to mark the history of the Grand Old Team.

You can read the rest of this original article here.

Belfast Celtic President Jimmy Jones Heads for Paradise

It was with great sadness that the football world learned of the death of Belfast Celtic Society’s president Jimmy Jones on Thursday, 13th February 2014. A legend of the Irish League, Jones began his senior career with Belfast Celtic.  In 1946, he was signed by the club’s famous manager Elisha Scott, whose teams swept all before them over a period of two decades. Scott had first spotted him on a six-goal spree for Shankill Young Men in Lurgan. 

A barrel-chested centre forward, Jones was a mainstay of the Celtic side during the late 1940s.  He turned down opportunities to switch allegiances to rivals Linfield as well as to cross the water to play for Matt Busby at Manchester United. In December 1948, Jones’s career – and, indeed, his life - was thrown into peril when he was attacked and suffered a broken leg at the end of the Christmas derby game at Windsor Park. You can read the rest of this original article here.

Enda Fanning - Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

It was with deep regret that word trickled through to the Belfast Celtic Society on November 26th, 2013, of the sad passing of Belfast Celtic fan Enda Fanning.A key witness to history, Enda was the only Celtic supporter to travel from Ireland to see the team he loved play in the USA in 1949, as the club prepared to sail out of football forever.  A football fanatic, Enda was born in Ireland’s north west, where his family members had helped found Derry City FC.  In the Spring of 1949, Enda's father persuaded the Belfast Celtic board to allow him to travel with the team to New York and he went with the players on board the famous Atlantic passenger vessel  The Mauretania, owned by the Cunard White Star Line, at the age of 22.

A decade ago, Enda helped get established and shared his brilliant archive of photographs from the trip with the webmaster to help get content onto the site.  His pictures included a group of pictures taken on the deck of the Mauretania, as players, management and Board members lounged around enjoying the voyage. Originally from Derry, Enda was a regular traveller from Dublin for Belfast Celtic Society events and had the opportunity to visit the Belfast Celtic Museum at The Park Centre, the site of the club’s former ground, a few years ago after a major event at Stormont where the name Belfast Celtic rattled round the corridors of power in the north.  Enda was visibly moved by the collection of exhibits on display at the team's former home and remarked that he couldn't wait to come back again for a visit. Alas, it was not to be.

Recently, the Belfast Celtic Society had taken the decision to bestow on  him an Honourary Life Membership - unfortunately, he didn't live long enough to hear the news himself from the Chair of the Society, Padraig Coyle.  On hearing the news of Enda’s passing, Padraig said; ‘Enda’s name and personality was known everywhere in Belfast Celtic circles – just this week his name came up in a conversation I had with former player Lexi Moore in Derry.  He remembered Enda’s roots on Foyle Road where his father was a well known business figure, as an importer of fruit and vegetables.'

‘He was a gentleman in every sense of the word and indeed I recall at a reminiscences event in 2006 in the clubrooms of Donegal Celtic FC, Enda scooped one of the ballots - a framed picture of Belfast Celtic on the US Tour.  He immediately summoned Kitty Campbell, wife of the late Johnny, who scored for Belfast Celtic against Scotland in New York in '49 and handed the picture over to her as a gift. 

For over 50 years, he lived and worked in Dublin and despite his long association with that city, he never lost his northern accent and used to laugh heartily when people asked if he was down for the day on a visit.

Our deepest condolences are passed to his entire family circle at this very very sad time.’Enda Fanning is survived by his wife Ruby and his children Oisin, Enda, Grainne, Niall, Colm and Nuala. His funeral will take place in Mount Argos in Dublin on Thursday, November 28, 2013. A chriost dean trocaire - bhi se dilis go bhas.

(Enda Fanning (far right) on the US Tour)


The Man Who Taught Martin O'Neill the Game

In the 2004 BBC documentary Man and Bhoy, new Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill spoke about those who influenced his career, firmly setting the record straight!
As he’d spent most of his professional football career under England’s standout manager of the age, Brian Clough, most commentators assumed that the two-time European Cup winning manager of Nottingham Forest left the most indelible mark on the Derry man’s career.

O’Neill was very clear – this was wrong – and a former Belfast Celtic legend was the man who Martin looked up to the most. He said frankly; I had a wonderful education under Brian Clough, there’s no doubt about it and people say ‘Well, he taught you the game!”  “Well, in actual fact, Jimmy McAlinden taught me the game! He realized my background - I had been playing Gaelic - in fact I’d never actually played a soccer game on grass until I’d joined Rosario (a Belfast youth team). Jimmy McAlinden had a supreme knowledge of the game, he had supreme knowledge of individuals.”

Reflecting on the makeup of Jimmy Mac’s Distillery side of the early 1970’s, with Republicans and Loyalists playing together in the same team, O’Neill believed; “McAlinden had the fantastic ability of bringing these boys together and being great mates - they would have died for him - and so would I!"

You can read the rest of this original article here.


The Irish Football Referee who was History’s Eyewitness

Dunville Park was once a jewel in the crown of west Belfast, with its ornate terracotta fountain entertaining patients and patrons at the Royal Victoria Hospital nearby. Over many years, the park and its fountain fell into a state of serious disrepair and only recently, Belfast City Council has restored the park to something near its former glory. Built by the Dunville family, linked inextricably to the whiskey distillery which lay on the edge of the City Centre, the Park was gifted to the corporation in 1891 and in 1892, the Marquis of Dufferin opened it to the citizens of Belfast. This wasn’t the only mark the Dunville’s left, as their Distillery football team remains a fixture on the local football scene.

At the Grosvenor Road end of Dunville Park, there once stood a majestic gate lodge, which housed shelters for children’s swings and was kept by a Park Superintendant, to keep a keen eye that the park was on good order. For many years, William O’Neill was ensconced in the sandstone gate lodge, watching the children come and go from the mill streets surrounding the park, but his real passion wasn’t gardening – it was football – and he was also a top grade referee.

You can read the rest of this original article here

Jackie Denver - Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Sadness descended over Lurgan in Co. Armagh on Sunday, July 21, 2013 as the news filtered out that legendary Belfast Celtic inside forward Jackie Denver had passed away. A stalwart of Elisha Scott's team in the late 1940's, Denver was an ever present in Scott's sides. He played in many of the most memorable games in the club's final days, including the 'Windsor Riot' game on December 27, 1948 and also toured the USA with Belfast Celtic in 1949.

Transferred to Glenavon in his native Lurgan by Belfast Celtic on their demise, he went on to be a lynchpin at the Armagh club in the 1950's, helping them to league and cup triumphs under managers Jimmy McAlinden and Harry Walker - themselves legends of Belfast Celtic.

You can read the rest of this tribute to the late Jackie Denver here.

Celtic Legend Mickey Hamill Recalled at Hannahstown

In a picture postcard graveyard clinging to the side of the Black Mountain in Belfast, the memory of Belfast Celtic’s greatest ever player was recalled on June 30, 2012. Mickey Hamill, the former Glasgow and Belfast Celtic centre-half, who also played at other times for Manchester United and Manchester City, was commemorated at a joint event between the Belfast Celtic Society and the Celtic Graves Society.

In an emotional ceremony, Celtic FC Director Brian Wilson gave the keynote address and spoke in powerful tones about the links between the two clubs and the importance of the Irish connections at Celtic today. He said; "It's a great privilege to represent Celtic at this special event - It shows the special affinity between the two cities of Belfast and Glasgow” and remarked; “Celtic FC supports and values the work of the Belfast Celtic Society and the Celtic Graves Society”.

You can read this rest of this original article here

"Darling of the Falls" Mickey Hamill to be Remembered in Belfast on June 30th. All Welcome!

One of the greats of Irish soccer history, who was once the guest of the US President, will be remembered at a special event in Belfast on Sunday, June 30. Former Ireland captain Mickey Hamill, a Belfast Celtic, Glasgow Celtic, Manchester United and Manchester City star, will be remembered at his graveside at Hannahstown Churchyard, where a special plaque will be unveiled by his family at 12.00 noon.

Organised by the Belfast Celtic Society, the event has attracted huge interest in the football fraternity and one of the top Directors at Celtic FC, Brian Wilson, will jet in to represent the Glasgow giants, who are celebrating their 125th year in football. A former Labour MP for Glasgow, Wilson also wrote the official history of Celtic Football Club, A Century with Honour, as part of the club’s centenary celebrations of 1988.

For the first time, the Belfast Celtic Society will also team up with the Celtic Graves Society to host the joint event, as Hamill was a league winner with both clubs.
For the past five years, the Celtic Graves Society have marked the resting places of many of the Glasgow club’s most famous players, in Scotland, England and the USA and a delegation will travel from Scotland to be at the event.

You can read this rest of this original article here.

Failte and The Rock Provide New Belfast Celtic Museum Storyboards

Two local businesses have slung their weight behind the Park Centre Belfast Celtic Museum by funding new storyboard displays - and they are businesses with Celtic connections. Failte Restaurant and The Rock Bar paid for the production of new storyboards, which go on display ahead of a major Belfast Celtic Society event on Sunday, June 30th celebrating the life of Belfast Celtic’s greatest player, Mickey Hamill.

Former Celtic star Niall McGinn, who part-owns Failte Restaurant, dropped into the Celtic museum to personally hand over the storyboards and see the 250 exhibits on display, along with his agent Gerry Carlile, who also part owns the Rock Bar. Both were very impressed by the museum and took a short tour with a guide from the Belfast Celtic Society.

Speaking afterwards, Gerry Carlile said; “I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss when vising the Belfast Celtic Museum – it’s such a fantastic story.
“It’s great that the museum is on the site of the old Celtic Park to ensure that the story will never be forgotten. There’s history between Belfast Celtic and the Rock Bar – one of the most famous patrons was St James’s Celt Paddy Bonnar and his picture still sits behind the bar."

You can read the rest of this original article here.

Young Belfast Celt on World Cycle Tour for Charity

A young Celtic supporter from Belfast - Brendan Barnes - has just started on his 2 year cycle trip round the world on behalf of the charity Project Zambia. His blog and stories (especially about the glacier dam breaking) are well worth reading. Follow Brendan on his trip of a lifetime and please support Brendan with a donation - he is taking 2 years out of his life to help others.

Brendan's trip wlll see him cycle 25,000 miles through some of the world’s harshest climates and toughest terrain. The trip began in Alaska , into the vastness of the Yukon, down through British Colombia into the US via Washington, Oregon, Califormia, Nevada, Utah, Arizona. Through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and into Argentina.

From there Brendan heads for Cape Town, South Africa and through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France, England and then up to Liverpool.

"From there, I will get the boat home to Belfast and cycle the last 5 miles to my front door where i know a nice bed and a home cooked meal will be waiting," says our intrepid cyclist. You will find him here Donations can be made here.

"Mixed Messages" to be Previewed at the Belfast Celtic Museum - June 7th

Well known writer and broadcaster - and Belfast Celtic Society chairman - Padraig Coyle has a new play in the pipeline.  Mixed Messages was inspired by his book Alex Moore's Almanac, which featured a vivid first-hand account of Belfast Celtic's farewell tour to the United States and Canada in 1949.

The book was based on the diary of former Glenavon player Alex 'Lexie'  Moore, who was called up to the Celtic touring party after the injury to striker Jimmy Jones in the Boxing Day derby match against Linfield.  Moore scored one of the goals in the team's famous victory over Scotland, which was played on Randall's Island in New York.

In this dramatised version, the central character is Teddy Gillespie, a young man from Derry, who, like Moore, served as a telegraphist on the North Atlantic convoys during World War II.  He too was called up for duty on a football tour to North America.  But there the similarities end.

The play, which is set in the 1940s,  tells a fictional tale of love and friendship, the perils of war and the excitement of the brave new world across the Atlantic.  In the course of his story, Teddy must confront his own strengths and weaknesses and make some life-changing choices.

Moore first revealed his precious diary at the launch of Paradise Lost and Found, Coyle's best-selling history of Belfast Celtic, which has become something of a collector's item.  Coyle agreed to use it as the basis of a book to commemorate  the tour, which signalled the club's departure from the Irish League.

Teddy will be played by up-and-coming Downpatrick-born actor Shaun Blaney, who has appeared in numerous plays, films and television dramas, including HBO's Game of Thrones, currently shooting in Belfast.  The director is Andrea Montgomery, artistic director of Terra Nova Productions.  She is a Canadian citizen, who, as the daughter of a diplomat, has lived all over the world. The producers are Spring Lane Productions, the company set up in 1988  by broadcasters, writers and journalists Padraig Coyle and Jane Coyle.

Selected scenes from the play will be performed at the Belfast Celtic Museum in the Park Centre, Belfast on Friday 7 June at 5.30pm - Admission to the performance is free.

The play will make its appearance at the Pick'n'Mix Festival at The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre in St. Anne's Square, Belfast) on 15 and 16 June.

Shaun Blaney plays Teddy Gillespie as he joins his ship as a wireless operator in the play Mixed Messages .
Teddy Gillespie heads off on tour with Belfast Celtic        

New Celtic Podcast by the Lost Bhoys: Help needed!

Chris McGuigan from the legendary Celtic Podcast Lost Bhoys has been in touch and is looking for help from the Celtic family worldwide. Over the next few weeks LostBhoys are working on a series of Podcasts documenting the History of Celtic. "It will be much in the same vein as the Belfast Celtic Podcasts released recently, says Chris. "Celtic from fans perspective. We will be releasing 10 shows over the summer cos, let’s face it, we all go stir crazy without any football, and we are recording them now."

The Lost Bhoy is encouraging Celtic fans everywhere to record a little audio bite of their favourite Celtic moment. This will be edited into the podcasts to give it a real “Fans” feel. "It can be your favourite player (and why), favourite goal, favourite season, favourite shirt or anything like that. It doesn’t have to be War and Peace, just 30 seconds to a minute will be perfect.", says Chris.

"Come on, don’t be shy, pick up your iphone and use that voice recorder app that you’ve never used before and talk into it. Then email your audio clip to the Lost Bhoys – couldn’t be easier. Don’t miss out on being a part of history, honestly, when you hear it on the show you’ll be dead chuffed with yourself. So get out your smartphone, get out your microphone, go on Skype or wherever - we are there as LostBhoys. And make it happen. Record your friends, record your family, record the members of your CSC or whichever Club you travel on the bus with and send them in."

So there you go, Celtic Family Worldwide, here is your chance for Celtic immortality! Go for ir. You know you want to! And while you are it, get your Da's generation involved. They have their story too!

Stunning archive film discoveries of Belfast Celtic Park

Two stunning pieces of film from the 1920’s, showing events at Belfast Celtic Park on the Donegall Road, have been discovered by the Belfast Celtic Society. Recent searches on the British Pathe website have unearthed footage of a pony trotting race at Celtic Park during the Truce in the Tan War in July 1921.

At this time, Belfast Celtic had withdrawn from football due to political violence and pony trotting would have been a welcome sporting release for people in west Belfast at a time of high tension. A second, five minute long piece of archive, from the ITN Source website, shows the amazing sight of the 1925 Celtic Carnival winding its way from the city centre through west Belfast to Celtic Park.

Organised to provide funds for Belfast Celtic’s return to football after the conflict of the early 20’s, the carnival drew tens of thousands of participants and spectators to Celtic Park, where revelers enjoyed a funfair. The money raised from this event was used to build the Willowbank Stand, which loomed over the Iveagh district until the ground’s demolition in the early 1980’s. You can read the rest of this original article and see the films referred to here.

Lost Bhoys on the Belfast Celtic Trail

Chris McGuigan from the Lost Bhoys returns to his Belfast home stomping grounds to meet up with the Society and take the Belfast Celtic Trail. The result is an excellent two part podcast. "Never a better time to walk around the Falls Road than Easter Monday eh?" says Chris. "This is a history of not only Belfast Celtic and the close links it had with it’s Glasgow cousins but a history of West Belfast itself."

" We tell the story of Belfast Celtic from its formation in 1891 up to it’s sad demise in 1949. As the story unfolds, we pay homage to some of its greatest players and personalities.This is the first time, LostBhoys have linked up Hail Hail Media, The Belfast Celtic Society, The Celtic Graves society, The Celtic Wiki and the Celtic Underground to bring a real joint effort from all the teams." You can listen to Part One here and Part Two here.

Ulster Television News Report

Ulster Televison News recently visited the Belfast Celtic museum for a news report on Ireland's only football museum. The report is available on the UTV player which unfortunately is not available to people living abroad. You can however view the news report on the Belfast Celtic website at The report includes an lnterview with Society representatives Padraig Coyle and Charlie Tully Junior. The file may take some time to load and is slightly out of sync. Enjoy! Click on the UTV logo to the right or here.

Former Celt McGeady sends gift to Belfast Celtic Museum!

Word is spreading about the Belfast Celtic Museum at the Park Centre and special visitors recently made the trip all the way from Bonnie Scotland to visit. Family relations of former Celtic star Aiden McGeady stopped off at the museum, spending time checking out the 250 exhibits and soaking up the history of Belfast’s Grand Old Team.

In town on a family trip, the McGeady’s made the museum their first port of call and brought with them some gifts, including an Ireland international jersey signed by Aiden himself! Aiden’s ‘geansai’ was handed over by his dad John and uncle Pat, who also brought another gift, a handwritten letter by Belfast Celt Jimmy McAlinden, detailing his career, along with his portrait picture, taken while at Belfast Celtic. Both of these will soon be on display at the Park Centre, the former home of Belfast Celtic Park.

Speaking after the visit, Belfast Celtic Society Chairman Padraig Coyle said; “It was a real treat to welcome the McGeady family to our museum and even more thrilling when they presented us with Aiden’s jersey. It was a total surprise and the message inscribed on it is personal to the museum, giving us best wishes – we can’t wait to get it on display."

"The McGeady’s are, of course, regular visitors to Ireland and have strong Donegal links, hence Aiden’s choice to play his international football for Ireland. Our guide was very surprised at the amount of information the whole family already knew about Belfast Celtic and it was great to be able to detail the many links between the two ‘Celtics’."

“Aiden is now at Spartak Moscow, but we feel his jersey is another little connection between the two clubs, as like us all, he remains a Celtic fan. John McGeady, Aidan’s Dad, is an accomplished footballer himself, who played for Sheffield United, where his team mate was Celtic’s Jimmy Johnstone and he started his career at Third Lanark in Glasgow, another club to slip into history as they left football in 1967. But their story doesn’t stop there as Aiden’s uncle Pat has helped revive the Third Lanark’s name as a junior team in Scotland, so the family really are steeped in football. On behalf of all the members of the Belfast Celtic Society, I’d like to thank the McGeady’s for visiting the Belfast Celtic Museum and for the wonderful gift from Aiden himself!”

Former Celtic star Aiden McGeady’s father John (right) and uncle Pat donate Aiden’s personally signed Ireland international jersey to the Belfast Celtic Museum. The player’s inscription reads ‘To the Belfast Celtic Museum, best wishes, Aiden McGeady - 7”.

Belfast Celtic Shop with Brand New Merchandise

The Belfast Celtic Online Shop now has a range of t-shirts, fleeces, polo shirts, jackets and badges for sale. You can visit the shop here The same items are also available through the Museum.

Feel free to drop us a line if you need more details.

Click here to download the Belfast Celtic Society brochure You will need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader if you do not already have it. Click here to join the Society.