- Tony Fenelon
c.1937 in a boxing pose
when he was about 19 or 20 years of age.
image to enlarge
In 1932 or 1933, I played football for the
"Blues" or "The O'Hanrahans", although only 16 or 17, and, about
that time, I played for the County Minors. After reaching the
Leinster Finals, we played Dublin in Croke Park, but
unfortunately, we lost by just one point. I cannot remember a
photograph being taken, but, if one was taken, I should be
grateful for a copy if one is available.
- St Joseph's School
Pansy in white at back. Tony Fenelon 8th
from the right in the 2nd row from the
front. Miss Wall (lady on right).
on image to enlarge
My first year at St Joseph's Infants School
was in 1922. There were nuns and two lay teachers. The novice
nun, Sister Pansy, was a great favourite of mine, and, when I
returned to Carlow for my first visit home, I called to see her,
but to my great disappointment, she had been transferred to
another part of Ireland. One of the lay teachers, I believe, was
a Miss Wall of Walls Forge, Ballinacarrig. In the photograph I
am 8th from the right in the 2nd row from the front.
In the C.B.S. there were Boxing
Championships organised by Brother Byrne. Most lunchtimes, he
had us move all the desks back along the walls, then took out a
pair of boxing gloves and paired us off. It was then that boxing
became my favourite sport. A year or so later, I boxed in the
same Championships. I remember boxing George Hyland.
My football team was "The O'Tooles". We
took part in a Street League, which was a competition between
groups of streets. "Big and Little" Barrack Streets were paired
off with Staplestown Road, which included George Lawler, and we
- Winners of Carlow Street League Football
Championships Little & Big Barrack Street &
Staplestown Road - "The O'Tooles.
on image to enlarge
A young Garda set up a boxing club in the
town, and I recall boxing in a tournament somewhere near or even
on the same site as the hospital near the Court House. I boxed a
young man from the Phoenix Club, Dublin. I never found out how
he came to be boxing in our tournament. We boxed against Callan,
Kilkenny and Athy, Kildare. Jimmy Reddy, who was one of our
team, was a real tearaway fighter, and I cannot remember any of
his bouts going beyond the first round.
- C.B.S. Boxing Championships
- Tony Fenelon, second from the right in the
back row, his opponent is on his left and
George Hyland whom he boxed later is on his
on image to enlarge
WORK IN CARLOW
One summer's holiday. Brother Byrne got me
a job in St. Patrick's College as a plumber's mate. The college
was having a new heating system installed. The job carried on
until November, so I left school, and in the evenings took a
Commercial Course at the Technical School. At Christmas, I got a
few weeks' work at Kehoe's, plucking turkeys. I was the only
male among a group of young women. When I went to collect my
wages I was horrified to find that the young lady who paid me
was a fellow student at the Technical College. However, she was
very nice, and just smiled. In the New Year, I got a job at
Thompsons, where they were making concrete tiles for roofs, it
was the first time I had seen concrete tiles instead of slates.
We made enough tiles to roof the whole of Carlow! However, the
job finished after about six months, and, apart from working
with farmers, I was ready for England.
Had we won the Provincial Football
Championship, I doubt if I should ever have come to England.
Every summer and winter holiday I had worked with farmers, with
my brothers and neighbours. I had also worked at Suttons Stores
as an errand boy and van boy. I still remember taking the young
son on the carrier of my bicycle to the little Church of England
school in "Big" Barrack Street. Almost every day, the van driver
and I travelled through Leix, up the Killeshin Hills. We always
stopped to look down on the little villages, lighted by oil
lamps, before we delivered our goods.
WORK IN ENGLAND
In 1934, I left Carlow to join my mother
and most of my family in London, where I still live, with my
wife Renee, and my own family. I found work in London very
quickly, as most Irish men and women did. After about a year or
two, I changed jobs and went to work in a famous aero-engine
works, D. Napier & Son, West London. I eventually became a
grinder in the works. When the War started in 1939, we became a
reserved occupation firm because we made aeroplane engines and
engines for torpedo boats. I remained at Napier until 1948 when
I became a temporary school teacher until I went to college a
I had been playing Gaelic Football for an
Irish team based on Wormwood Scrubs, in West London. We played
every Sunday at Catford in South London, about an hour's journey
by tube and tram. We won a competition that year, and played the
final in Woolwich Arsenal Stadium. I was told that I might be
picked for the team representing England against the All Ireland
Champions. I heard no more, and I didn't even receive a medal
for winning at Woolwich. I was very shy and naive! That autumn,
I played soccer for my firm, Napiers!
I had taken courses in P.E. and was a
member of the Regent Street Polytechnic Boxing Club, and won
their Club Championship in 1936. I boxed many times for the
club, until the war started, when it closed for a short period.
I then joined the boxing section of Acton Sports Club, which I
represented at Charity tournaments, such as the R.A.F.
Benevolent Fund, Fire Brigade Fund, Aid for Russia Fund and
local charities. I also boxed against representatives of the
Canadian Army, the British Army and Inter Battalion Home Guard -
I was a corporal in the works Home Guard. I also boxed on two
shows where Freddie Mills boxed an exhibition with the South
African Champion, Don McCorkindale.
About this time, I also became a member of
a local amateur dramatic society - The Brook Green (Hammersmith)
Players, and all through the war, we performed in shelters, Tube
stations, and surface shelters, and on anti-aircraft sites
-during air raids. Life was full and exciting! My brother, Joe,
two years older than I, served in the army in Norway.
Just after the War, I became a qualified
A.B.A. boxing instructor and when I became a school teacher I
took a course and qualified as a Schools Football Referee. All
teachers, who are interested in sport, and football especially,
were asked to take a football team out every Saturday, when they
played inter-school matches. The teacher in charge of the home
team always refereed.
I retired in 1980, two years after I
received a long-service award for 32 years teaching in our local
Borough -I retired as Senior Master (Deputy Head status) of a
large mixed Comprehensive School of 1,350 pupils.
I was 80 on the 16th of last month. I
visited Carlow in August/September last year, for the first time
in forty years.
CARLOW now and then – Vol 1 – No 2 Spring / Summer 1997