Belfast Celtic 1891 - 1949

 

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Malcolm Brodie Friend of Belfast Celtic Passes Away

It was with great sadness that news filtered through on Wednesday, January 30, 2012, that legendary  sports journalist Malcolm Brodie had passed away. A great friend of Belfast Celtic, Malcolm was heavily involved in the huge reunion events in 1989 and 1991 which marked the leaving of football and the centenary of the Grand Old Club.  Born in Scotland and, despite being a fan of rivals Linfield, Malcolm kept a special place in his heart for Belfast Celtic and, as a cub reporter at the Belfast Telegraph, struck up a close relationship with Belfast Celtic manager Elisha Scott.

As sports editor of the Belfast Telegraph, Malcolm seemed to transcend time itself, attending many Olympic Games and World Cup finals over six decades. Indeed, his attendance at 14 World Cup Finals (his last in 2006) brought recognition from FIFA and the miniature World Cup they presented him with was treasured as his most prized piece of football memorabilia.  Malcolm was also awarded an honorary doctorate for his services to sport from the University of Ulster. Latterly, he had been involved in moves to create a Northern Ireland Museum of Sport and worked with the Belfast Celtic Society in preparatory and awareness raising activities aimed at making this a reality

Hall of Fame
It was a great honour for the Belfast Celtic Society when Malcolm accepted our invitation to be key speaker at the graveside of Elisha Scott, when the refurbished grave was unveiled in 2009. Personal, touching and honest, his speech that day was typical of the man and it was always a great relief when Malcolm told you that you'd struck the right chord in terms of activity - he was a very hard taskmaster!

Members of the Belfast Celtic Society were on hand when Malcolm received his Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chartered Institute of Press and Public Relations gala in 2008, and he accepted his award with typical humour and toned down, gruff grace.

Belfast Celtic Society Chairman Padraig Coyle said on Malcolm's passing; "It was an honour to know him and the Belfast Celtic story could not have been told without his insights. He was such a helpful man who gave much of his time to  encourage others along their own particular paths. His thick Scottish brogue never wavered, in spite of him being sent to live in Portadown during the early years of the second World War. 

While he started his journalistic career in County Armagh, it is for his stint at the Belfast Telegraph, lasting almost 50 years, that he will be most fondly remembered. In recent years, his weekly Down Memory Lane column regularly recalled the tragedies and triumphs of Belfast Celtic and its characters, like Mickey Hamill, Charlie Tully and Elisha Scott. Malcolm had many scoops during his career, but perhaps among the first would have been his exclusive interview with Jimmy Jones days after the  Boxing Day riot of 1948 at Windsor Park. 
"Just before Christmas, he had participated in filming for an up-coming documentary on Elisha Scott, which will soon feature on Liverpool TV. It is sad that both he and Billy Scott, son of the great Elisha, who also participated in the documentary, have passed on within weeks of each other. Of the Park Centre, the site of Celtic Park, where our museum is based, Malcolm once said; "The ghosts of Belfast Celtic now parade there". Malcolm will have joined them in spirit now! Our island as a whole and our sports community in particular is much the poorer for Malcolm's passing. To his family, friends and colleagues, on behalf of the entire membership of the Belfast Celtic Society, I say, rest in peace Malcolm." To watch Malcolm Brodie in Return to Paradise - the Belfast Celtic Story, please click here

 


Charlie Tully lights up the Hampden stage again!

Celtic star Charlie Tully will return to one of his most famous haunts later this month, in the guise of Belfast actor Gerard Jordan.
Hampden Park in Glasgow is the venue for a performance of I Left My Heart, a special short drama production featuring the inimitable Tully, written by Belfast Celtic Society Chairman, Padraig Coyle. And a special free preview performance will take place at the Belfast Celtic Museum at the Park Centre on Thursday, November 22, in advance of the Hampden event.

Inspired by work carried out by Glasgow Caledonia University and Alzheimers Scotland, the play is intended to spark memories and conversations among dementia sufferers. Part of a two-day Memories FC Community Conference, hosted by the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park, the performance by Belfast actor Jordan will see him reprise the role of footballer Tully, who he first played at the Paradise production at the Lyric Theatre in 2004.

Broadcaster and journalist Padraig Coyle explains: "The advanced research into alzheimers and dementia in Scotland threw up surprising results. One result was that, particularly among older men, Charlie Tully was a huge figure in their memories – and not just those of Celtic supporters! Tully was a larger than life character and his fame has carried across Scottish football to this day, as his name is still sung regularly on football terraces. His ‘cheeky’ persona embedded him in football folklore and because this was matched by his prowess on the field, he remains one of the greatest players of the twentieth century.”
                                                                                                                                
The 15 minute dramatic performance is intended to rekindle those special memories and forms part of a two-day programme looking at the issue of reminiscence, memory loss and recovery for the elderly.

Other highlights include a demonstration of an interactive prototype digital 'Memory Cube',designed by a team from Northumbria University as well as a special Knowledge Exchange Café. Mr Coyle is very enthusiastic about the Memory FC Community Conference, saying; “I believe we are seeing the beginning of harnessing the potential of football focussed reminiscence to help improve the lives of people with dementia.

“Together, we can creatively explore how to fuse cultural heritage, scientific insights, design and performing arts to help those with dementia and those who are caring for them.”

The free preview performance of I Left My Heart will take place at the Belfast Celtic Museum at the Park Centre in Belfast on Thursday, November 22.  The Museum will be open from 7.00pm for visitors and the performance will be held at 8.00pm.

Belfast actor Gerard Jordan, in the role of Charlie Tully, packs his memory case, ready to travel to Hampden Park in Glasgow. 


Anna Reid: the Lady who said Goodbye to Football

In a quiet cul de sac on the outskirts of south Belfast lives Anna Reid – the woman who said goodbye to football on the death of Belfast Celtic. A former season ticket holder at Paradise, Anna recently donated her ladies' season ticket from the 1945-6 season to the Belfast Celtic Museum.

As well as this, she has also passed a wonderful 1927 City Cup medal, belonging to stalwart Eddie Inch, along with youth international caps from her brother, George McLarnon, who once starred with north Belfast rivals Cliftonville.


Anna’s father Joseph, from Hillman Street in north Belfast, was a Celtic fanatic.
A butcher by trade, he owned shops in Cromac Square and the Ormeau Road and was a great friend of Elisha Scott, who gifted him Inch’s cup medal, now residing in the museum. Both men were members of the National Club in Berry Street and Joseph, and later Anna herself, became very friendly with many of Belfast Celtic’s great players, including Jackie Vernon and Tommy Breen.

You can read the rest of this original article here
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Graffitti on the Wall for Grandad's Heroes

Gateshead in the 1980’s was a lifetime away from Belfast in the 1940’s – so why, as a young Geordie lad, did Mark Shepherd feel moved to leave a visual imprint of the Grand Old Team on a local gable wall?

‘What the bloody hell has Belfast Celtic got to do with a lad from the North-East of England?’ So asks Mark Shepherd, thirty years on since he neatly drew the words ‘Belfast Celtic’ in four foot letters on a gable wall on a side street of Sunderland Road in Gateshead. It was the early 1980’s, he’d just started school when a new kid with a strange, exotic accent walked into his classroom.

Natural curiosity took over and the children gathered round the new boy, whose not-so-dulcet tones were recognisable from the nightly news bulletins reporting the place with all the soldiers and explosions. Mark was even more interested, as his relatives, like newboy John Miskimming, were Irish. Young John fitted in well and was soon friends with the whole class, his accent less and less out of place as time passed by.

When groups of eight year old boys gather together in the soccer daft hotbed of the ‘great north east’, football will never be far from the conversation and so, naturally, one day, chat turned to teams and titles. Probably the most important question a young lad will be asked is simply ‘What team do you support?’, because as everyone knows, once you’ve picked a team, it’s yours for life. Wives, houses, cars, jobs – all these can change – but it’s a total heresy to change your football side once you’ve made the cardinal choice. You can read the rest of this original article here.

 

Belfast Celtic Trail Marked on the Falls Road

A special tour bus wound its way along the Falls Road on Saturday, August 4th 2012, to launch the new Belfast Celtic Trail. Families of former players as well as Celtic fans traced the steps of the club across its west Belfast heartland, as part of Feile an Phobail, the largest community festival in Ireland.

Beginning at the former site of the Centre Half Bar on the Falls Road, owned by Mickey Hamill, the trail marks 15 points of interest which includes former pitches, players homes and businesses and the graves of key figures in the club’s history. And to cap off the day, the Belfast Celtic Museum was re-opened at the Park Centre, the site of the club’s home, Celtic Park.

(Picture to the right) Members of the Hamill and McAlinden family at the site of Belfast Celtic star Mickey Hamill’s Centre Half bar, which once sat on the corner of Falls Road and Panton Street.

You can read more here

 

Belfast Celtic Trail to be Launched on August 4th
Saturday, August 4th will see the long awaited launch of the new Belfast Celtic Trail. Planned by the Belfast Celtic Society and funded by the Irish Football Association, with support from the Special European Programmes Body, under the Peace III measures, the trail has begun to take shape along the Falls Road. A special bus tour has been arranged for August 4th, as part of Feile an Phobail, the West Belfast Festival, leaving the Falls Library at 10.00am and visiting each stop on the trail. For those travelling on the tour, a special tour guide has been arranged, with Irish actor Gerard Jordan raising the ghost of Charles Patrick Tully to bring the history of Belfast Celtic to life!
 
 
Davy McKavanagh (left) and Vincent McDonald from the Belfast Celtic Society get ready to place the first 'Celtic Circle' on the Belfast Celtic Trail,
 
marking the site of Mickey Hamill's Centre Half Bar on the Falls Road. 
 
 
14 stops will make up the trail, with specially made 'Celtic Circles' marking the site of the three former pitches of the grand old team, the homes and businesses of former players and also the resting places of some of Celtic's most famous sons. The site of the formation of the club, 88 Falls Road, is also marked on the trail, which will be accompanied by a special brochure and map combination, logging the location of each circle and giving additional information about the club.

Padraig Coyle, Chair of the Belfast Celtic Society, said; "It's taken three years to plan and organise but our Society is so proud that the Celtic Trail is now emerging in the heart of west Belfast, the home of the club. "So many poignant sites are marked and we hope this is yet another way of keeping the memory of the old club alive. The final stop on the tour will be the Park Centre and we are delighted to announce that the Museum in the centre will be re-opened on the day, after an absence of a year, with many new exhibits on show."

"We have made a commitment to open the museum once a week, so if you would like to volunteer to help out please contact us. Many people have helped bring the Celtic Trail to life, but special mention must go to Michael Boyd and the Community Relatiions Team at the Irish Football Association, who helped fund the initiative. These plaques will be an everlasting reminder of Belfast Celtic in the cradle of the club - West Belfast."

If you would like to join the inaugural bus tour of the Belfast Celtic Trail, call Belfast 07803 161 359.  Tickets are £10.00.  Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
 

Alan McKee as Churchill addresses the crowd
Capacity Crowd as Winston Returns to Paradise

Hundreds of people came to St Mary's University College on February 8th to raise the ghost of Winston Churchill exactly 100 years after his visit to the Falls Road. A packed house heard eminent historian Dr. Eamon Phoenix brilliantly sketch the history of the day when the Liberal MP, who served as First Lord of the Admiralty in the Cabinet, having accepted the invitation of the Ulster Liberal Association, came to speak in support of  Irish Home Rule.

A fascinated crowd also listened as Belfast Celtic Society chairman, Padraig Coyle relived the drama of the sporting season in 1912 in which several league clubs broke away from the Irish Football Association and organised their own competition – the Gold Cup. Celtic defeated Glentoran 2-0 to become  the first winners of the trophy before peace was restored and the clubs rejoined the league. Also that year Celtic's  reserve team  captured the Steel and Sons Cup for good measure.

Former Belfast Celtic Society Secretary, Frank Hennessey, Chaired the meeting and staff at St Mary's were at hand at all times to ensure its smooth running. The gathering was opened by the Minister for Arts and Culture, Carál Ní Chuilín MLA, who reflected on her position that the series of up-coming 'centenaries', of which the Churchill celebration is the first, be hosted in a spirit of inclusiveness.

Her Executive colleague, Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy MLA, listened intently and also added to the debate on the night with his own views of both the commemorative process and his family history, including his Grandfather's signing of the Solemn League and Covenenant, which also happened in 1912.
You can read more about this memorable evening here.

 
Golden Scraps of History

Scraps of paper can be worth their weight in gold and one Belfast Celtic fan's personal archive has yielded rich treasures. Harry Spence was from the Falls Road and for years followed the fortunes of the Belfast 'Stripes'. During the 1940's, he lovingly collected newspaper clippings on a range of issues to add to the family scrapbook and high on his agenda was the sporting excellence of Belfast Celtic, under the direction of the masterful Elisha Scott.

Now, this archive has been brought to life with the help of Harry's son Aidan, who has built a wondeful website to host the content of his father's scrapbook for new generations to explore. Aidan said; "My father was a Celtic fan in his youth and he rarely missed a game. "He was also at Windsor Park for the fateful game in 1948 the made Celtic withdraw from football. "The events of that day affected him greatly and as a result, he actually turned his back on soccer altogether and for many years was radically opposed to the sport." You can read more about Harry Spences' magnificent archive here.



 
Celtic Tribute at AICSC Annual Meeting

Over 100 Celtic supporters packed into the Lurgan Celtic Supporters club recently to relive the glory days of Belfast Celtic. Delegates travelled from all across Ireland for the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs' annual meeting and the green carpet was rolled out in Neil Lennon's home town for Charlie Tully Jr and Davy McKavanagh, who took the packed house on a barnstorming walk back in time.

As part of the celebration of the life of Charlie Tully in his 40th anniversary year, the Belfast Celtic Society was delighted to accept the invitation to address the gathering and offer a bit of sporting nostalgia to the very important event. Once again, the magical Bill McKavanagh slide show was presented to the audience, who listened intently as the Celtic roll of honour played out down through the years.

Davy McKavanagh then sketched his own Celtic odyssey and detailed the importance of Belfast Celtic to the fabric of the city and reminded the audience of the Celtic Song's Irish origins. Patrick and Malachy McKavanagh were also in attendance. Charlie Tully was the key focus for the aftershow debate and his eldest son painted an emotional and touching picture of his father. You can read the rest of this article here.
 
Family of Greatest Ever Belfast Celtic Visit Museum

Mickey Hamill is widely regarded as the greatest player ever to grace the Stripes of Belfast Celtic. So it was with real joy that members of the Belfast Celtic Society rolled out the green carpet to his daughter Annette and her family at a recent visit to the museum in the Park Centre. In a glittering career, spanning over twenty years - and two continents - Mickey Hamill left an indellible mark on Irish football, as he pulled on the Stripes of Belfast Celtic, the Hoops of Glasgow Celtic, the red of Manchester United and the blue of Manchester City, while in the USA he turned out for Fall River Marksmen, Boston Soccer Club and the New York Giants!

On retirement, he was a successful publican, operating the Centre Half Bar on the corner of Panton Street and Falls Road, facing where Cupar Street meets the Falls today. His daughter Annette accompanied by her children Paddy and Cormac, recently took the opportunity to view the exhibits in the museum, including those which feature their father and grandfather.
They also got a chance to handle the Irish Cup, which Mickey led Belfast Celtic to scoop in the 1917-18 season, in a 2-0 win over Linfield, where Mickey battled a knee injury to lead his side to glory.

Plans are now in place to mark the memory of Mickey Hamill, with new exhibits added to the Belfast Celtic Museum and the refurbishment of the player's grave at Hannahstown now being examined. And the Belfast Celtic Trail, due for launch in the autumn, will also feature Mickey Hamill, as the site of the Centre Half Bar on the Falls is marked on the Tourist Trail. You can read more about the late, great Mickey Hamill on the Legends page.
Annette McWilliams, daughter of Mickey Hamill, in the Belfast Celtic museum, with a portrait of the 1917-18 cup winning side, in which Mickey played a starring role alongside legends like Elisha Scott, Jimmy Ferris and Willie McStay.
  Annette McWilliams, centre, holds the Irish Cup, won by her father in 1918, flanked by her daughter Paddy (left) and her son Cormac.  
  A collection of medals won by Belfast Celtic star Mickey Hamill, including his 1915 league winners medal and a medal won during his time in the United States.  
 

New Film on Barca and Belfast Celtic's Paddy

Former Belfast Celt Paddy O'Connell will soon receive the small screen treatment in a film made for the Irish Language television station TG4. The man who made Barcelona, managing them successfully through the period of the Spanish Civil War, is the subject of a major documentary, made by Belfast outfit Tobar Productions, to be broadcast in 2012.

A film crew from Tobar recently visited the Belfast Celtic museum and grilled members of the Society about O'Connell's time in Belfast and the character of the city when the stopper was crossing the chalk at 'Paradise'. The forty-minute documentary, with the working title Paddy – Don Patricio, is presented by popular Belfast actor and broadcaster Tony Devlin and is being produced with the assistance of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the Irish Language Broadcast Fund.

Born in Dublin, O'Connell played in the backline for Belfast Celtic in the early 1900's, before he was transferred to Sheffield Wednesday, along with left-back Peter Warren, joining the Hillsborough club for the combined fee of £50. After three years there, he moved to Hull City where he was spotted by Manchester United, who parted with an incredible £1,000 to secure his services. He was a proud Irish international and the most famous of his six appearances came in a 6-1 walloping of England in 1912, where he played with his Belfast Celtic and Man Utd colleague Mickey Hamill.

In 1914, just before the outbreak of the war, O'Connell braved a broken arm to Captain Ireland to victory yet again against England, at Middlesborough's Ayrsome Park, in a 3-0 win. After spells at Dunbarton and Ashington, O'Connell travelled to Spain in 1922 as manager of Racing Santander, who would help found La Liga with O'Connell at the helm. You can read the rest of this article here.

 
Bertie Brings Down the House for Cheeky Charlie

Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld brought the house down at a celebration of the life and times of Charlie Tully on July 27. Bertie, who played with Tully as a cub player at Celtic, was in Belfast to mark the 40th anniversary of Cheeky Charlie’s passing, at two special events organised by the Belfast Celtic Society.

Hundreds of football fans and the Tully family crowded round Charlie’s graveside at Milltown Cemetery to hear Jim Emery, Tully’s assistant at Bangor FC, recall the football legend’s life. Belfast’s Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile spoke on behalf of the city to mark the anniversary.


Affairs at the Cemetery were rounded off by Terry Dick, son of legendary singer Glen Daly, who led the crowd in a rendition of the Celtic Song, made famous by his father, who’d first heard it from Tully. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs, the Tullyglen CSC, the Tommy Nelson CSC, The Celtic Graves Society and the Belfast Celtic Society.

Later at a packed Rock Bar, now part-owned by Celtic’s Paddy McCourt, Bertie led the tributes with an hilarious recollection of Tully’s time in Glasgow. The European Cup winner also spoke of his admiration for the former Belfast Celt as a person. Click here to read the rest of this article.
 
All aboard for Belfast Celtic!

East Belfast man Oliver Loughnan blew a mythical whistle at the Belfast Celtic Museum during it's latest opening but it wasn't of the refereeing kind! It was more a platform conductor's whistle, for he brought with him an enormous railway poster from 1940, advertising the Football Special trains for a match between Celtic and Portadown at Shamrock Park.

Such was the draw of the Grand Old Team, special train stops had been arranged across the country - from as far south as Dundalk, from the west at Dungannon and the north from Belfast and Lisburn to allow the Stripes fans to get to the game. Prices ranged from 2 shillings and sixpence from Dundalk, to just seven pence from nearby Lurgan. And such was the expected crowd for the game, played on Saturday March 9 at 3.00pm, that no luggage was allowed on board to clutter the carriages and children travelling still had to pay half fares!

Oliver has provided the cracking piece of memorabillia to the Museum on loan and it now takes pride of place at the entrance to the Park Centre unit. Also popping in for a visit were Brenda Bruce, Jimmy Overend and others. You can read more here.
 
Celtic's Official Facebook Page Features Charlie Tully

On this day (June 20) in 1948, Charles Patrick Tully sailed from Belfast into the Broomielaw to sign for Glasgow Celtic. To mark the happy memory of the occasion, Celtic FC's Facebook administrators have opened a new album on their page with images related to Celtic's Cheeky Chappy.

After leaving Belfast Celtic, Charlie spent 11 eventful years in Glasgow, before returning to the 'old sod' to manage Cork Hibernains and his time in Scotland remains the stuff of legend. His jaunty persona is well captured in the Facebook pictures - one of which shows Tully submerged in a group of Celtic Supporters, all of whom are decked out in fancy dress costumes. Naturally, Charlie is in his element, with his Lagan-wide smile beaming out towards the camera.

Within a few hours, over 300 Celtic fans had approved of the new album, with many leaving comments as well remembering the former Belfast Celt. To view the album on Facebook, click here.
 

Welcome to the Hall of Fame

Former Belfast Celtic centre forward, Jimmy Jones has been inducted into the Hall of Fame at the annual award ceremony of the Northern Ireland Football Writers Association.  The man  whose bustling style caused havoc among defences in  a career where he notched up well in excess of 600 goals was given a standing ovation by the 300 guests at Belfast's Europa Hotel. 

The event which marked the culmination of the Irish League season saw Jimmy sharing the limelight with another  marksman from the modern era. 42 year old Glenn Ferguson, who has just retired from Lisburn Distillery, made his name at Glenavon and Linfield.

While he was one of the Irish League's most prolific scorers even his career total of 561 is a long way behind Jimmy's achievements.  'Spike'  was full of praise for his Glenavon predecessor when he was accepting his own  Hall of Fame award. "It's an honour to be compared with a player like Jimmy," he said.

Arthur 'Mousey' Brady, who played  against Jimmy many times paid this tribute.  "Jimmy had no fear when it came to going for the ball and his incredible scoring record  will never be matched. He was a one off and I'm proud to call him my friend."

Jimmy Jones is President of the Belfast Celtic Society and featured on the Legends pages.

 

Lish and Gerry at the Shrine

The Belfast Celtic Society has been receiving a lot of mainstream media coverage over the last few weeks mainly thanks to the premier at Stormont of Padraig Coyle's new piece of theatre Lish and Gerry at the Shrine.

A full report of the event with pictures and video will be available on site in the next few days. In the meantime you can check out the following articles.

You can read David Conn's article in the Guardian here. Jane Coyle's article in the Irish Times here. The BBC preview of Lish and Gerry at the Shrine can be seen here. Interviews with the Chair of the Belfast Celtic Society and several of the actors involved can be seen on the BBC here.

The program for the Stormont event can be read here. The file is in PDF-format. If you do not have the necessary program - Adobe Reader - you can download it for free here.

 

Sounds of Belfast Celtic's Dark Past Revived

A group of well-known actors and arts practitioners have revisited one of the darkest periods in Belfast Celtic's history in advance of a specially staged performance later this month. Belfast City Council's chamber - a crucible for heated political debate over the years - was the venue for the recording of the soundscape for Lish and Gerry at The Shrine, a new drama written by Padraig Coyle, Chair of the Belfast Celtic Society.

They are recreating the acrimonious exchanges in the Stormont Parliament of 1949, some of them in the wake of the violent scenes of Boxing Day 1948, when a riot at Windsor Park left Celtic's striker Jimmy Jones badly injured in hospital.

From the Council’s opposing Unionist and Nationalist benches, the characters of the respective Honourable Members blazed their way through extracts from 60 year-old debates.

The rehearsals were under the keen ear of director Jackie Doyle, who has worked at the Lyric Theatre and was one of the founders of Prime Cut - one of Ireland's most successful independent theatre companies.

Padraig Coyle said; "Hansard perfectly preserved the debates in the Stormont chambers in the wake of this infamous game and they are proof that some of those in political office at the time were almost as badly behaved as the people who took part in the rioting at Windsor Park.

The sheer venom of the opposing parties is tangible and it is clear that this was much more than a football match - this was war by another means.” You can read more here.

 

Another Piece Added to the Belfast Celtic Jigsaw Puzzle

A new donation to the Belfast Celtic museum has added another piece to the jigsaw puzzle of the famous club’s history. Former club secretary Frank Hennessey raided his attic to retrieve amazing portraits of some of the Directors of the Grand Old Team, rescued during the demolition of Celtic Park during the early 1980’s. One portrait has a special significance for Frank – as it captures his grandfather, Dan McCann, a former Chairman of Belfast Celtic.

Frank explains; “These images used to hang in the Celtic Park boardroom and they were given to my family for safe keeping as the ground was being knocked down.“I’ve had them for almost 30 years – someone salvaged them from the clubhouse and I’m very grateful they did, otherwise they may have been destroyed or flung in a skip.It’s a pleasure to hand them on to the Belfast Celtic society for public display – the new museum at the Park Centre is wonderful and a fantastic achievement which will only get bigger and better.”

You can read more of this original article here The Belfast Celtic Museum will be open this Saturday, February 5 from 12noon to 5.00pm and a special opening has been arranged for St Patrick’s Day, March 17, also from 12noon to 5.00pm.

 

Celtic Remembered on America's Western Seaboard

10,000 miles away from Belfast, sister's Margaret Flynn, Anne Devine and Geraldine McAuley were very surprised to discover a little piece of home. In Kell's Irish Bar in Seattle in Washington State in September, they came across a banner in remembrance of Belfast's Grand Old Team.

The sisters, who grew up under the shadow of Celtic Park in the St James's area, were amazed to find the bar decorted in Celtic jerseys, with a few Antrim GAA tops thrown in for good measure, on their family holiday along America's western seaboard. But the Belfast Celtic banner was an amazing addition to the pub's memorabillia, bearing the legend; "When we had nothing, we had Belfast Celtic - and then we had everything!"

There are three Kell's bars in the US, the others in Portland Orgeon and San Francisco, California. Anyone planning a visit to the Pacific North West will find the details here.

Is this the most obscure reference to Belfast Celtic there is?  Or can you do better? E-mail the Webmaster with your own little pieces of Paradise on far flung shores.

 
Walter Bruce


Walter Bruce - One of the Finest Inside Forwards of the Decade

Brenda Curran and her husband Ronnie recently joined the Belfast Celtic Society.  Brenda is the daughter of the late Walter Bruce who played for Belfast Celtic in the late 1930s. Walter appears in a framed picture of the Belfast Celtic team of 1937 - 1938 which is currently on display in the Museum at Park Centre. Brenda is keen to share Walter's story:

My father, Walter Bruce, as a boy played for the 30th Boys' Brigade, he then was with the 30th Old Boys' - next Crusaders and Dundela in the Intermediate League, then Ards, his first Irish League club, next Bangor.  He won two Ireland caps when at Bangor, playing and scoring in both matches against England and Scotland. 

He signed for Belfast Celtic in 1933 and was a member of the great Celtic side from 1933 to 1939, winning two Irish Cup medals with them in 1937 and 1939 against Linfield and Bangor. He was transferred to Halifax Town but returned home when war was declared. He was the uncle of Jimmy Walker, Linfield and Doncaster Rovers, and Walter Bruce of Glentoran and Detroit Cougers."

Quote from the Irish News "He was one of the finest inside forwards of the decade and was renowned for his great passing ability and scoring of spectacular goals." You can read more personal memories of former teams and players on the Memory Lane pages.

 

Stateside Celts

It's 1949 - future world snooker champion Alex "Hurricane" Higgins has just been born, undisputed world champion boxer Rinty Monaghan victoriously sings "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" at the Kings Hall in Belfast and in the USA, Tommy Dorsey and Charlie Shavers are topping the hit parade with "The Hucklebuck". In the political sphere, the United Kingdom officially recognises the Irish Republic and South Africa introduces institutionalised apartheid.

On the RMS Mauretania, the pride of the Cunard White Star company, a group of footballers sail into history, as Belfast Celtic complete their 10 match tour of the States, gloriously scalping the Scottish international football team in the process.

In this nostalgic video, float down memory lane as old images of Belfast come alive with the greatest sporting stars of the era - when Belfast's 'Stripes'  drifted into history, leaving an idellible watermark still seen today. Watch the film here.

You can read more about the Final Tour here.

 
 

Neil Lennon Signs - a jersey - for Belfast Celtic

In Ireland earlier this year accepting his UEFA Pro Coaching Licence, current Celtic manager Neil Lennon was greeted by a delegation from the Belfast Celtic Society.

Neil was kept abreast of developments at the Society and was delighted to hear of the opening of the new museum at the Park Centre.

Society Chairman Padraig Coyle spoke with Neil about the Lurgan connections to Belfast Celtic, including the Society President Jimmy Jones and other players like Jackie Denver and legendary mad-cap goalkeeper Hughie Kelly.

Afterwards, Neil accepted some gifts from the Society, including Alex Moore's Almanac, the book chronicling the clubs 1949 US tour, through the eyes of Derry's Lexie Moore, who scored one of the two famous goals that sent then British Champions Scotland homeward to think again! Read the rest of the article here.

 

IFA Chief Makes Museum Visit

Irish Football Association Chief Executive Patrick Nelson paid a surprise visit to the new Belfast Celtic Museum at the Park Centre recently. Dropping in during a Belfast Celtic Society Committee meeting, Mr Nelson took the opportunity to examine the exhibits and pass on his best wishes to the Society, before heading off on IFA business.

Chairman Padraig Coyle said; "It was an honour to be able to show Mr Nelson the exhibits contained in the museum, and he was suitably impressed. The IFA's Football for All initiative have been very supportive of the work of the Belfast Celtic Society and we retain an excellent working relationship with the team at Windsor House. It was a pleasure to introduce Mr Nelson to the living history of Belfast's grand old club!"

Pictured here 2nd from left, Mr Nelson is joined by Society Chair Padraig Coyle (left), board members Paddy McIlroy and Vincent McDonald (right)
 

If Houses Could Talk, What Tales Would They Tell?

Pictured in this photograph are Mr and Mrs McAreavey, from Number 9 St James's Road in Belfast, the former home of Belfast's Cheeky Chappy, Charlie Tully.They hold a replica plaque of the one that adorns the front of their house, close to the Park Centre, placed by the Tommy Nelson Celtic Supporters Club a few years ago. The plaque at hand was donated to the Tully family as a keepsake, but now forms part of the exhibition in the new museum at the Park Centre. 

Like all visitors to the museum so far, the McAreavey's were highly impressed by the range of items on display and revealed that the number of people visiting their home to view the plaque has jumped dramatically over recent months - proof if ever it was needed that Cheeky Charlie is still close to the hearts of Irish Celts.

Over 60 years after the demise of the
Grand Old Team they still have their supporters. It's like Tommy Burns said of Celtic - "We play for a people and and cause".

 

Jimmy Ferris

Pictured here are Sonny and Tony Fitzpatrick, relatives of the legendary Belfast Celtic inside forward of the 1920's, Jimmy Ferris.  They were recent visitors to the Belfast Celtic museum, where they donated an incredible picture of Ferris, taken during his time at Chelsea in 1922.  It is hoped that other items belonging to Ferris, whose great partner in the forward line was the mercurial Mickey Hamill, will also be traced for placement in the museum.

Visits like this are invaluable in terms of preserving the memory of the Grand Old Team. This is the main role of thos website and the Belfast Celtic Society. We want to keep alive the history of Ireland's greatest ever football team for our children and grandchildren and their children in turn. Thanks to Jimmy Ferris' relatives we were able to put together the story of the man they called Celtic's Brilliant Schemer.

You can read the article here.

 

Keepers of Celtic History Return to Paradise

It was an emotional return to Paradise for two important keepers of Belfast Celtic’s history recently, as Davy and Patrick McKavanagh paid a visit to the new Park Centre museum. Relatives of the late Bill McKavanagh, whose magical slideshow illustrated the history of the Grand Old Team, the pair had the opportunity to get up close to the exhibits in the new exhibition space.

Davy McKavanagh, brother of Bill, is a mine of information on Belfast Celtic and was able to provide remarkable details for many pictures and items on display in the museum, helping unravel some of the mysteries of the club, now 61 years out of existence.Bill’s nephew Patrick, an active member of the Northern Ireland Football Programme Collectors Club, is the keeper of the enchanting slide show presentation, which was willed to him by his historian uncle on his untimely death. On a separate visit, another McKavanagh brother, Danny and his wife also visited the museum and were very impressed by the memorabilia on display, taking the opportunity to get a photograph with the Irish Cup, which Celtic won 8 times

Many of the McKavanagh family grew up in the shadow of Celtic Park and it is the intention of the Society that the museum can provide a place for them and people like them to keep alive the memory of Belfast Celtic.

 

Hundreds keep Celtic’s flame burning

Hundreds of visitors kept the Belfast Celtic flame burning as the new museum at the Park Centre once again flung open its shutters. Visitors from all across the world – and closer to home – came on Saturday, August 7 to check out the items on display and relive the glory of Belfast’s Grand Old Team during the annual Feile an Phobail.

Among the visitors were relatives of Celtic legend from the 1920’s Jimmy Ferris and relations of Bobby McAuley, one of the players signed for Belfast Celtic after playing for the great Milford Street school side.

Linfield fan Ricky Hastings came bearing gifts, with a pile of precious press clippings and programmes from the 1940’s, which will now be lovingly preserved by the Society. You can read more about this exciting event here
 

Belfast Celts Reign Again in Paradise

"They never die who live in the hearts they leave behind" is the quote associated with the immortal Johnny Thomson, Price of Goalkeepers..The same could well be applied to the Grand Old Team.

Sixty one years after Belfast Celtic left the footballing stage, they have returned to Paradise. The Belfast Celtic Society’s new museum space was officially opened by star striker Jimmy Jones, Paddy Bonnar’s daughter Heidi Boyle and Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery on Saturday, July 3rd 2010.

Situated in a major unit inside the Park shopping centre, on the site of the old Celtic Park on the Donegall Road, the museum opening was tremendously received by hundreds of well-wishers and grand old fans. You can read more about the grand opening here.

 

Anti-Racism World Cup in Belfast

An important part of the work of the Belfast Celtic Society is to support worthy causes. Recently the Committee donated £200 towards the staging of this years Anti-Racism World Cup at the Donegal Celtic FC in Belfast from the 16th to the 18th of July.

The Anti-Racism World Cup (ARWC) was born in 2007 at a time when Belfast was experiencing an alarming upsurge in racist attacks across the city.

You can read more here.

 

Celtic - Linfield Night Held in Belfast

On Thursday 29th April, after a gap of 61 years, Belfast Celtic’s rivalry with Linfield was renewed for the first time when the Society held an evening of story telling and performance  at Windsor Park.  The event was arranged through the efforts of the Irish Football Association’s Community Relations Department  and   Michael Boyd of the Irish FA explained that “the evening was an opportunity to celebrate the life of Belfast Celtic and to deal with the issues of the past” .

Read more about this historical night and future planned events here.

 
Glenavon Salute for Celtic Legends

Belfast Celtic enthusiasts braved the elements to travel to a snowbound
Mourneview Park in Lurgan on Tuesday, March 30th, as Glenavon rolled out the green carpet for two Belfast Celtic Heroes. Adrian Teer, Chairperson of Glenavon, and Vice-Chair Hubert Watson, welcomed the Belfast Celtic Society to pay tribute to Society President Jimmy Jones and his great friend and team mate Jackie Denver. Both men served both Glenavon and Belfast Celtic with distinction in the 1940's and 50's and both live a stone's throw from Mourneview Park to this day.

Organised by the Belfast Celtic Society, special framed jerseys were produced and presented to each player by Mayor of Craigavon, Meta Crozier,  with an emroidered Society logo, under which each players' name is emblazoned.  These are totally unique 'one off' strips, made in the old Belfast Celtic style. You can read more about this event here.
 

Tommy "Hop" Breen

Drogheda man Brian Whelan is writing a book on the history of League of Ireland stalwarts Drogheda United. Former Belfast Celtic keeper Tommy 'Hop' Breen was born in Drogheda and played for the local team. Brian was browsing through the Belfast Celtic website one day with the hope of finding some information on Tommy Breen and was delighted to find a few reminiscences in the Memory Lane pages. "When I came across a couple of stories about Tommy, it got me thinking about stories that Belfast Celtic supporters might have of him," says Brian. "The book is intended as a nostalgic look back on the club's history. The idea is to interview as many people as possible and then put all the stories together.All proceeds will go to the local Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre, set up by ex-Leeds United and Irish international Gary Kelly." Anyone out there who would have any stories or pictures of Tommy Breen, or know any Breen family members, please contact Brian Whelan.

 
Celtic Take Centre Stage at Belfast's City Hall

Belfast Celtic are the only club side in Ireland to be represented at a special sports exhibition in Belfast City Hall. Running until the end of December, the exhibition, celebrating the creme of local sporting talent, puts Belfast Celtic centre stage, with a cabinet featuring priceless club memorabillia. Items from Celtic stars Paddy Bonner, Charlie Tully and Bertie Fulton take pride of place next to caps and medals belonging to Manchester United star George Best and a statue of Olympic medallist Mary Peters.

The items on display include a special souvenir replica of the Coronation Cup, presented to Charlie Tully after he helped Scottish giants Celtic lift the trophy in 1953 and a jersey worn by Paddy Bonner when he ran out with the famous Belfast 'stripes'. Bertie Fulton's 1936 Berlin Olympic personal security pass, a photo of the squad he played in and a letter from the IFA confirming his selection to the international panel, complete the illustrious selection available to the public.

Relatives of all three Celtic stars attended a glittering opening for the exhibition, launched to raise awareness on the proposed new Ulster Sports Museum, planning for which has already begun. As plans for this museum come to fruition over the next few years, the Belfast Celtic Society will continue to ensure the Grand Old Team takes pride of place among Ireland's sporting elite. Admission is free to members of the public.
 

Celtic Slide Show at Falls Bowling Club

Friends and members of the Belfast Celtic Society were invited to the presentation of the late Bill McKavanagh's classic Belfast Celtic Slide Show in the Falls Bowling Club, Andersonstown Road, Belfast at 7.30pm, Monday 25th January 2010.

On the night, Barry Flynn, the author, talked about his book "Political Football - The Life and Death of Belfast Celtic" and Charlie Tully Junior spoke on behalf of the Belfast Celtic Society.

 

Society Funds Go To Children's Hospice

One of the main goals of the Belfast Celtic Society is to raise funds for worthy causes.
The Society’s annual Christmas donation was made to the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice. Amid the seasonal snow and ice, Society Chairperson Padraig Coyle visited the hospice in Newtownabbey to hand over two cheques to fund raiser Stefani Butler. “This is a wonderful gesture from the Belfast Celtic Society,” says Stefani. “We’re constantly looking for support and help for the Hospice and this gift is gratefully received."  The Hospice is a local charity caring for local people which each year cares for over 3,000 adults, children and young people with life-limiting and life threatening conditions.

“We’re delighted to make our £500 donation to help the incredible work that is done by the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice,” commented Padraig. “On top of that we have also received a personal donation from honorary member Josh Sloan for £25 which we’re pleased to pass on.”

The adult hospice is based at Somerton House, Somerton Road, Belfast and the children’s hospice at Horizon House, O’Neill Road in Newtownabbey. There is no charge for hospice care. It is available on the basis of need. The organisation does receive some funding from government but still relies heavily on donations and legacies to fund much needed services. You can read more about the work of the Hospice or make a donation here.
 

Jimmy Jones Honoured at Football For All "Unsung Hero" Awards 2009

The IFA hosted a memorable Football For All Unsung Hero Awards Night in the Great Hall at Belfast City Hall on Saturday 21st November. The event was supported by the Community Relations Council, Pobal and Belfast City Council.

Football For All Ambassador Colin Murray hosted the prestigious event which recognises the Football Volunteers who promote respect through Football and make such meaningful contributions to the community.Belfast Celtic Legend and Society President Jimmy Jones received the Inaugural Football for All Legend Award. Mayor Na

Other award winners were Crusaders FC’s Mark Langhammer (for visionary cross community work), World United Manager Paul Moffett (for innovative anti-racism work), Lisburn Distillery FC’s Mr. Paul Kalla (for outstanding domestic community relations work), Newtownabbey Striker FC’s Stephen Calvert (for outstanding contribution to women’s football), Moyola Park’s Jillian Lennox (for outstanding contribution to football as an unsung hero), Ballymena’s Billy O’Flaherty (for inspirational community relations work) and Special Olympics Ulster’s Declan O’Neill (for outstanding contribution to disability football). The Football for All Lifetime Achievement Award went to St Oliver Plunkett’s Jackie Maxwell.

An emotional Jimmy Jones, commented, “I had a fantastic night and it meant a great deal to me and my family to receive a surprise award”. St Oliver Plunkett’s Jackie Maxwell, added, “I am surprised and delighted to receive the FFA Lifetime Achievement Award. Football is a big part of my life and to have this recognition from the Football Community is very rewarding”.
(Photo: Mr and Mrs Jones with Mayor Naoimi Long)wit
 

Ghosts of Celtic's Past - 60th Anniversary l

Ghosts of Belfast Celtic’s past were raised on July 18th 2009 with two major events marking the 60th anniversary of the club’s demise.

The last resting place of Elisha Scott, Celtic’s iconic manager, was refurbished and unveiled by his son Billy, on his 90 th birthday and a wealth of fans and famous figures turned out to pay their respects. Afterwards, a new mural featuring legends Charlie Tully, Paddy Bonnar and Belfast Celtic Society President Jimmy Jones.

You can read more here.id

 
Jimmy Donnelly Honoured at AGM

In spite of the terrible weather conditions there was a good turnout for the Belfast Celtic Society AGM on Tuesday 20 th October at the West Belfast Sports Club. Once again, the hospitality extended by the venue staff was top class.

It was great to see Society president Jimmy Jones and his son Trevor, who made the journey from Lurgan and another former player Gerry Burrell was also present. Paul Campbell, son of Johnny, represented the Campbell family, while there was the first attendance at an AGM of Liz Hargreaves, a relative of Lish Scott who played a key role in the work at his graveside over the summer months.

You can read more about the AGM here

 
"Return to Paradise" at the Donegal Celtic Clubrooms

Fans of Belfast’s Grand Old Team are getting ready for another fantastic night of nostalgia, Return to Paradise. Raising the curtain on the latest evening of celebration, The Belfast Celtic Society invites Hoops fans to attend the event at Donegal Celtic’s clubrooms on the Suffolk Road on Friday, March 2nd. Five of the original cast members of Paradise, the play chronicling the history of the football club, will return to perform selected scenes from the production. The actors include Falls Road man Gerard Jordan, playing the inimitable ‘Cheeky’ Charlie Tully and Lalor Roddy, who will give a commanding performance as Celtic manager Lish Scott.

Star players from the era will also take questions from the audience and a timely boost has come from the Progressive Building Society, who has granted the Belfast Celtic Society a £500 Community Award to help gather and protect historic club artefacts.

Launching the event, society secretary Alan McKee, one half of the comedy duo Grimes and McKee, who feature in the play, said; “This is the third event in a series and it’s the big one – bringing Belfast Celtic back home to west Belfast. Our society passed best wishes to Donegal Celtic at the start of the season as they grasped the mantle of representing ‘Celtic’ in the Irish League and the venue is entirely fitting. We’d like to thank Raymond Bonner and everyone at DC for rolling out the green carpet and making us all very welcome.”

 
With funding from Progressive Building Society literally in the bank, the Belfast Celtic Society has issued an appeal for donations of memorabilia connected with the club. Alan explained, “We’ve had horror stories of people fishing priceless items out of bins when the value of precious things like medals, jerseys, old books and pictures was missed. We’ve already started gathering important artefacts. For example, some player’s families have donated their league and cup medals and we have plans to exhibit these permanently. I appeal to anyone who has anything connected to the club – no matter how big or small - come along on the night and put your treasures in safe hands! Help keep the history of this great club alive forever!”

Graeme Norris, Area Manager with Progressive was on-hand at the launch of the event. He said; “As a football fan, I recognise the importance of the Belfast Celtic Society to the local community and Progressive are delighted to present this donation through the eleventh round of our Community Awards, supporting groups working for the benefit of their local communities. Groups wanting to be considered for a Community Award should contact their local Progressive branch for details of the application process.”
Belfast Celtic – Return to Paradise will be held at the Donegal Celtic clubrooms on Friday, March 2 from 8.00pm You can read more about Return to Paradise here
 
Belfast Hoops Christmas Boost to Women’s Aid Hotline

Belfast Celtic fans have given a timely boost to a special hotline helping families suffering from domestic violence. Three hundred pounds has been donated by the Belfast Celtic Society to the 24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline, managed by Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland.

Padraig Coyle, Chairperson of the Belfast Celtic Society said; “Our society keeps up the Celtic tradition of charity and we are delighted to make this small donation at Christmas.   “As well as a time of great joy, the festive period brings pressure on families and a service like this helps those in need of urgent assistance.

“Last year, we gave a donation to the Welcome Centre in the Falls area to help homeless people over the Christmas period. “This year’s donation is going to a similarly poignant charity. I’d like to wish all members of the Belfast Celtic Society a very merry Christmas and hope to see them all at our events in 2007.”  

Deirdre Teague, Helpline Manager at Women’s Aid said; “Our 24-Hour Domestic Violence Helpline managed over twenty thousand calls last year. “Donations like this from the Belfast Celtic Society ensure we can let those suffering domestic violence know help is directly at hand.

"It is vital that communities work together to stop domestic violence and this is one goal for which the society is very much on target." If you need urgent help, contact the Women’s Aid helpline on 0800 917 1414.  
 

Padraig Coyle, Chairperson of the Belfast Celtic Society said; “Our society keeps up the Celtic tradition of charity and we are delighted to make this small donation at Christmas.   “As well as a time of great joy, the festive period brings pressure on families and a service like this helps those in need of urgent assistance. “Last year, we gave a donation to the Welcome Centre in the Falls area to help homeless people over the Christmas period. “This year’s donation is going to a similarly poignant charity. I’d like to wish all members of the Belfast Celtic Society a very merry Christmas and hope to see them all at our events in 2007.”

Deirdre Teague, Helpline Manager at Women’s Aid said; “Our 24-Hour Domestic Violence Helpline managed over twenty thousand calls last year.   “Donations like this from the Belfast Celtic Society ensure we can let those suffering domestic violence know help is directly at hand. It is vital that communities work together to stop domestic violence and this is one goal for which the society is very much on target." If you need urgent help, contact the Women’s Aid helpline on 0800 917 1414.  

 
Belfast Mayor Welcomes Celtic Veterans to City Hall

Belfast Celtic’s magic was recalled this week, as former players and enthusiasts fulfilled two very special engagements. Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Pat McCarthy, received members of the Belfast Celtic Society in the Mayoral parlour.

Among the delegation was former star striker Jimmy Jones, badly injured during the Windsor Park riot of 1948 that rang the death knell for the grand old team and his former Celtic partner Johnny Denvir.

At the Errigle Inn the night before the society presented its Annual General Meeting, looking back on a very successful and nostalgia filled year. With several major events having taken place in the past year, society chairperson Padraig Coyle welcomed the opportunity to reflect, as well as building plans for the future to keep Belfast Celtic’s memory alive.

Mr Coyle said; “Over the past year we have hosted two evenings in celebration of the Belfast Hoops, one at the Errigal Inn, the other in the Linenhall Library both of which were total successes.
It is an honour and a privilege to accept the invitation from the Lord Mayor of Belfast to visit City Hall, recognising that Belfast Celtic is an integral part of the rich tapestry of the history of this city."

“Our society continues to keep the memory of the grand old team alive by collecting all sorts of memorabilia before it is lost through time and our membership has rocketed. I’ve been amazed by the amount of interest that still exists in Belfast Celtic, both here and beyond these shores, with people travelling long distances, sometimes across the water, to share their memories of Celtic. "

“We are very much committed to living out the ideals of the old club and we’ve been involved in several fund raising events, receiving a terrific response from the public. "On behalf of the society, we would also like to place on record our delight at the success of Donegal Celtic's promotion to the premier division of the Irish League." "It means that a team wearing the famous green and white hoops will grace senior football for the first time in nearly sixty years and that is bound to be a major boost for fans in the west of the city. We wish them well for the coming season. “Finally, we hope to outline some plans for work in the coming year, helping to ensure the legacy of Belfast Celtic remains fresh in the memory."