Founded in 1937, the clubs catchment area stretched the length of the picturesque Dodder Valley, from Old Bawn right up to Castlekelly. The idea of setting up a Gaelic football club in the area was first mooted by Fr. George Henry, the then catholic curate in the Bohernabreena parish. He encouraged and urged men such as, Albert West, Sonny Reilly, and Barney Kilbride to put the idea into motion. They duly took his advice on board, and they arranged a meeting which was held at Callaghans Bridge, (near the entrance to the Waterworks).
At that historical first meeting an Ad Hoc Committee was formed, it was also decided to name the club St. Annes, and that its colours would be blue and white. Away back in 1936/37, sixpence a week was a lot of money, but that was the contribution paid in by everyone interested in setting up a Gaelic club in the area. The next couple of years were mainly devoted to fundraising, organising for the future, and of course playing the odd friendly or tournament game.
On June 10th 1937 at their inaugural general meeting the following committee was elected; Chairman; Albert West; Vice Chairman; Mick Keenan; Secretary; Tom Bagnall; Assistant Secretary; Jim Norton; Treasurer; Barney Kilbride; Committee Members; Jim Bagnall, Andy Devine, Tommy Mahon, Jimmy Maher, Tommy Keogh, Sonny Reilly, Gerry Doyle, and Willie Byrne. It was decided to affiliate to the Dublin Junior football board, and accordingly a "C" team was entered for competition, and so on that date St. Annes G.A.A club was founded, thereby writing a large paragraph into the local history book.
Around the same time Beasleys estate in Bohernabreena was being divided by the Land Commision, so the clubs committee rightly applied for a playing pitch. Their application was successful, and it has been home to St. Annes since March 3rd 1938. The committee meetings were first held in Bagnalls hut, but when Albert West built a new house in Bohernabreena, all meetings, raffles, etc. took place there, and it was generally regarded as the clubs headquarters for the next two years or so.
Early in 1939, the committee decided to build a dressing room / meeting room, the tender submitted by Jimmy Maher for the sum of Â£280 was accepted, and the first building or pavilion as it was more commonly known, was erected. In April 1939 the club opened its first bank account with the princely sum of Â£220.
Club excursions were very popular in those days, and while St. Annes were enjoying their second annual outing to Glendalough, on 31st August 1939, the first shots were being fired in World War Two. Meanwhile, St. Annes "C" team won the league in 1940, and by that time Jimmy Maher had completed the building, so the after match celebrations were naturally held there.
Camogie was introduced into the club around the end of 1939, by girls such as Sarah Brady, Alice Devine, Hilda and Nan DeLappe, Sadie Murphy, and Biddy Tracey, but despite widespread interest initially, it never really flourished and it sadly faded into oblivion.
Socials and dances were held on Sunday nights, and these were sometimes frequented by the bog workers during the emergency. The mixture of peat dust, and porter, sometimes led to tenuous situations, but local men such as, Andy Devine, Jim Doyle, Hugh Hanlon, Johnny Cullen, and Tom Bagnall, were always capable of keeping order, and calming things down.
Wall lamps, which had to be filled with oil every night, formed the lighting system in those days, which was then replaced by a generator. Gas was the next source of power until the electricity arrived in the late nineteen forties. The big majestic fireplace which was sited in the centre of the back wall was acquired from the mansion of Lord Massey.
The weekly socials took on a real "Ballroom of Romance" mantle, as the women invariably sat on one side of the hall, with the men facing them on the opposite side!! John Cranny, Mr. Mitchell, Joe Lawlor, Ollie and Des Carty, and Simon and Jim Corcoran were the musicians for these socials in the 1940s. The Sunday night dance in the pavilion was so popular that people cycled from Glencree, and Rathfarnham, to be in attendance.
From 1942 to 1945 the Bohernabreena branch of the L.D.F. trained and held First Aid classes in the pavilion also. By the time the war came to an end, the boarded floor was almost worn away, from the men constantly marching and tramping on it.
On the football front, the club experienced severe difficulties regarding transport to matches during those war years, but they still managed to fulfil most of their engagements, mainly through walking or cycling to the opposing teams venue. By 1946 St. Annes had risen to Junior "A" status, and although they attracted some well known players from outside the parish, they still seemed to lack that killer punch.
About this time also the Minors and other young teams were showing a good degree of success, and the nucleus of these teams were to prove a significant factor in the clubs revival on the field of play, starting in the mid nineteen fifties. By this stage most of the clubs founder members had dropped into the background , and those that remained were joined by younger and enthusiastic committee persons. The blend of experience and youth proved a success, as the clubs fortunes took a turn for the better both on and off the pitch, in the following few years.
By 1956 St. Annes had battled their way into the Intermediate ranks, and in 1959 they achieved their long held desire of playing Senior football in Bohernabreena.
At this time the very successful under age teams of the mid / late fifties were beginning to make an impact, and the mixture of youth alongside some experienced and established players, had a stabilising effect, because a lot of the older players in the squad had decided to call it a day, or were dropping down to play in lower divisions, having given great service to the club.
In 1961 the club attained Division One status, and having gained experience and confidence from operating in the top division, it came as no surprise when they captured the very competitive Intermediate Championship title in 1964, when they defeated St. Sylvesters of Malahide in the decider at Parnell Park.
In 1962 the Camogie section was revived by a number of ladies, who rightly thought that the sliothair and caman were also an important part of An Cumann Luithcleas Gaeil, whether it was played by the men, or the fairer sex. Among their first victories was a tournament game against Pearses of Rathfarnham in 1964. They went on to win the "Junior A" Championship in 1966, while the "Junior C" side took the league honours in 1967, while sixteen years later in 1983, the camogie club captured the "Junior C" Championship title.
During the nineteen fifties Mrs. Kennedy of Oldbawn (Kennedys Pub), and Barney Kilbride (then a Club Trustee), donated cups to the club, and they proved very popular tournaments which were played in front of huge crowds, each year in Bohernabreena.
Cross country running was also very popular in the club around the late nineteen fifties, and it was never a problem to field two teams for the Annual field four mile G.A.A. cross country race, which was run over a testing and gruelling course in the Phoenix Park, in early March. The club also held its own cross country race every Christmas morning, taking in part of the old point to point course, and covering three and a half miles or so in the process!!
In the early sixties hurling was introduced into the club at Junior level, but unfortunately it only lasted four years or so,and had limited success and interest. As most of the players involved were also playing football at the time, it became increasingly difficult to have an injury free panel in either code, and so it was reluctantly decided to discontinue the hurling section.
Around 1965 it was suggested to build an extension to the existing pavilion, which would include dressing rooms, showers, and other amenities. An enthusiastic band of volunteers, (all club members), started the project , which in those days was a major undertaking, and they completed the work in September 1966.
A Gala day was arranged for Sunday 11th September 1966, at which the new facilities were officially opened. The highlight of the day was an inter county senior football game between Dublin and Kildare, playing for the Doyle cup, which was kindly donated to the club by J. P.& M. Doyle, Auctioneers. The curtain raiser to the senior game was a juvenile match played between St. Annes and a team from Kill, in Co. Kildare. The Lilywhites beat Dublin that day in what was the first inter county match played in Bohernabreena. Synge St. P.P were accommodated in the 1960s , by St. Annes and they played their home fixtures there for a number of years.
The club successfully applied for a bar licence in 1972 and the Sunday night sing song in the bar, proved a major attraction, with local musicians providing the music. The club realised that in order to maintain their identity, they would have to plan for the future, and so to this end they decided to build a new club hall / social centre.
Work began on this venture on 23rd May 1977,and it opened its doors on St. Patricks day 1978, while the official opening, which was performed by Paddy McFlynn, (then President of the G.A.A.), took place on 30th March 1979. The clubhouse was packed that night as another chapter was written into the St. Annes history book.
On the footballing front the club was once again going through another transition period , as players who had given long and loyal service to the senior side departed the scene. A young and somewhat inexperienced team had now emerged, but they found the competition much harder, and they finally capitulated in February 1981, losing their long held senior status, and being relegated to intermediate football.
Their stay in the lower division proved to be a short one, because their efforts were rewarded on 18th December 1983, when they won the intermediate league, and consequently returned to the senior ranks. By this time the Juvenile section was flying,(the under 15s and the under 16s having brought major honours to the club), so the future was beginning to look that bit brighter on the playing field.
Several of the clubs players who had come up through the ranks, won Leinster and All Ireland medals at minor and senior level in the early / mid eighties, while Leinster medals were also won by Junior and Under 21 players, around the same period.
On the club front the Under 21 team won Division One South of the league in 1984, and went on to beat a strong Parnells side at Silverpark, to capture the Lord Mayor cup. The following year, the senior team brought the Intermediate championship back to Bohernabreena, exactly twenty one years after it first came there. Meanwhile they maintained their great charge up the senior league ranks, by gaining promotion to Division One, having finished runners-up to St. Vincents in Division Two of the senior league.
They aquitted themselves well in the top flight of the league, and in 1987 made a very determined assault on the Dublin senior championship title, and following a great campaign advanced to the final against a much vaunted Parnells side. We had played almost all of our earlier games in Croke Park, but the final which was delayed, was played in Parnell Park, and I still firmly believe that these two factors were instrumental in our loss that night. It would have been a memorable occasion to win our first senior championship title, as the club was right in the middle of celebrating fifty years in existence!
It would be all of five years before we would get as near to the title again, 1992 to be exact when we bowed out to the lesser fancied, but fiercely dogged Civil Service side, this time at the semi-final stage also played in Parnell Park.
In the meantime a development plan was drawn up by the then executive committee, with a view to moving the dressing rooms away from the main building, therefore paving the way for the refurbishment / development plan to be put into action down the line.
In October 1987 St. Annes staged their first ever Dress Dance in the Downshire House hotel, in Blessington, and what a resounding success it proved to be. Two hundred and sixty five tickets were sold at Â£13-50 each,and everyone looked resplendent in their formal gear. This event was the culmination of a full week of festivities held earlier in the clubs premises, which ended with an inter county match between Dublin and Derry, playing for the Doyle Cup. This game was played on the 14th June 1987, and Dublin emerged victorious on a scoreline of 2-13 to 2-12.
A club development / financial committee was set up in order to raise funds, and generally plan the proposed future club developments. To this end a monster draw of Â£100,000 was launched on Saturday 16th. April 1988, and with tickets selling at Â£100-00 each, which was a lot of money in those days, it proved a wonderful success, and gave us the much needed funds to commence the first phase of the clubs plan.Work began on this venture in May 1988, and most of the clubs members turned out to lay the foundations, for this badly needed facility.
On Sunday 12th of November another huge contingent turned out for the official opening of the new dressing rooms and shower rooms. The then Chairman of the Leinster Council, Jack Boothman, (later to become a very popular President of An Cumann Luithcleas Gaeil), cut the ribbon to the new premises, and the then Auxillary Bishop of Dublin, Bishop James Kavanagh, R.I.P. blessed the building. Ironically the opening coincided with the senior team playing Parnells in a very important league match. After a hard and pulsating game we came out on top by 3-5 0-9, thus setting up a league final date with Kilmacud Crokes.
The final was eventually played on Sunday 28th January 1990, at OToole Park in Crumlin, there by bringing the senior league Division One title to Bohernabreena for the first time ever, on a scoreline of 1-11 to 1-9, after a hard fought and at times tense match.
In keeping with the clubs development plan, a second Â£100,000 draw was launched on Saturday May 19th, which would give us the financial start-up required, to commence the next phase of the aforementioned plan. Having started slowly the sales eventually picked up, and like the first draw proved a big success, and once again we achieved our goal, thanks of course to all the sellers, ticket buyers, and the draw committee.
Meanwhile the senior side were more than holding their own in Division One of the league, but could just not make the breakthrough needed to lift the senior championship title. In the late eighties and early nineties we enjoyed some memorable days at the Kilmacud Sevens, which were, and still are, held on the eve of the All Ireland. With a little bit of luck we could have emerged as winners on two occasions, having beaten the cream of teams from the four provinces, we adapted skilfully, the rotating substitute scheme used in the competition, and a lot of our opponents just had no answer to it." Ah, those were the days."
Meanwhile the advantage of a strong juvenile section were beginning to bring rewards as the Junior "A" side just missed out on promotion to the Intermediate ranks following a play off to the 1991-92 league season. However they made no mistake the following year, thus ensuring that St. Annes would have senior and intermediate football teams in Bohernabreena, for the first time in its history!
Large bank loans were not easily had in the pre" Celtic Tiger" days, so reluctantly we had to go back to our members and ask them to support another Â£100,000 draw. This time it was a hard sell, but we could not proceed with the development plan without further funding. We also launched our own club lotto in March 1992, in order to fund the football side of the club,and having furnished the bank with a well drawn up five year business plan, we eventually satisfied them that we were capable of repaying any loan we received.
We got the green light in early January 1994, and we watched with sadness as the old bar that held so many great memories and stories, was demolished. The big lounge was kept open, sometimes under fierce pressure, during the period of the building/renovation. Work was completed on the project by late May 1994, therefore bringing to a successful conclusion, the dream that had been put on paper just a mere seven years previously, at the first financial/development meeting. By paying up front for the initial Parnell Park ticket package, we were entered into a draw run by the county board at its annual convention. At the said convention which was held in January 1995, we scooped three prizes, the top one which was a car, plus a fridge freezer, and a dishwasher. We were then able to hold a very good raffle, with the top prize of a car of course, and we made in excess of Â£20,000, profit on the venture. In effect it paid for our investment in those Parnell Park tickets!
The official opening of the new facilities was performed by Jack Boothman, then President of An Cumann Luithcleas Gaeil, and the premises were blessed by Bishop Eamon Walsh. A double decker was arranged to coincide with the occasion, Dublin played Wexford in hurling, followed by Dublin and Tipperary in the football. The hurlers were well beaten by Wexford, but the footballers easily beat the Premier county. We did not realise it at the time, but we were watching future All Ireland winners in both codes,i.e. Dublin went on to win the Sam Maguire in the same year(1995), and Wexford won the Liam McCarthy cup the following year, so coming to Bohernabreena proved lucky for both counties!!
In early 1994 a group of people approached the committee with a view to starting up a club newsletter/magazine. Having been given the green light the first edition of the now famous "Blues News", was published and a huge piece of club history was written. It was, and still is a unique and ideal way to get the clubs message out there, whilst also encompassing the parish, and the surrounding locality in the process. The sceptics in the club felt that if the publication lasted out the year, it would be a miracle, but fair play to everyone who have kept it going, through thick and thin, for the past thirteen and a half years, proving a lot of people wrong.
Back on the football field, some of our juvenile teams were winning trophies in the South East league, and Leinster and All Ireland medals at senior level, and a Leinster Junior medal, were won by club players in the mid 1990s also. In 1996 the club decided to purchase the fields directly to the rear and the side of our existing main pitch, from its then owner the late Vincent McMahon R.I.P. The removal of hedges and the general development of the property then took place, and it was not long before we had another first class pitch to call our own! A small juvenile/ training pitch was also incorporated into the new grounds, and the entire property was railed off with an attractive looking palisade fence.
After an uncharacteristic lull both in development and football activity, the seniors bounced back in style to win the senior Division One league title, by defeating St. Sylvesters of Malahide, at Bohernabreena, on a scoreline of 2-12 to 1-11.
1997 arrived and again St Annes were celebrating, this time it was sixty years in existence. We marked the occasion with a few very good events in the club , including a very enjoyable table quiz, at which the quiz master was none other than our old friend J.J.Barrett. To round off the year in style we descended on the Downshire Hotel for our second Dress Dance, and just like the first one, ten years previously, the second night proved every bit as popular and successful.
The next major trophy to come our way was the Evening Herald Floodlit Cup, played at the Iveagh Grounds on the Crumlin Road. After a thrilling match, in which both teams were level on four occasions, we finished the stronger and emerged as winners by a mere point. That game was played on Thursday 29th April 1999, and it sadly heralded the arrival of a lean period for the club, trophy wise. We had a few brushes with relegation over a number of seasons at the turn of the old, and in the early part of the new century, and we finally lost our fight in late 2004, but it turned out a short stay in the lower division as we bounced back to the top flight in early 2007.
Heres hoping that we can consolidate our position there for the foreseeable future. Sadly the Intermediate team were also relegated around the same period, so we are back to two junior sides, but things are not all that bleak, as a steady stream of youngsters are coming through all the time.
A bar stores, gym, and an administrative/ meeting office, were also added to the premises at the turn of the century also. The old club lotto was replaced in May 2004 by club lotto 2000, tickets cost 120 euro per year, and there is a guaranteed first prize of 1000 euro every week, which automatically rolls over when not won. At present this is the clubs main source of finding, apart of course from the bar.
That brings us up to the present day ,development wise, as a spanking new Sports Hall has been erected, which incorporates the gym, new dressing rooms, and all related ancillary facilities. This project is the culmination of many years of blood sweat and tears, and will stand as a monument to all the people who worked for and supported the dream that was held by so many, down through the years, " enjoy the moment"
Since it was built in 1940 the club has accommodated almost every local organisation, for one purpose or another. Agricultural, carpentry, and cookery classes were all held there, amongst others. The I.C.A. and the local ladies club have been meeting there also for countless years, as well. Mass was also celebrated there in 1980, during the refurbishment of Bohernabreena church, and a number of children were baptised there also, during that period.
A golfing society was set up in 1982, and it has developed in numbers and popularity since its inception, while the ladies pitch and putt is still growing in popularity after many years in existence also. The dart section is another important cog in the clubs wheel, which of course is played by both the men and the ladies. Pool is also a very popular sport in the club, whilst the Ceilidhe nights and the set dancing classes are still going strong, after all those years.
Thursday and Friday nights are now devoted to traditional music, and karaoke respectively, and on Saturday nights you can enjoy a music / sing along night in the members lounge. The large lounge caters for 21st, birthdays, Weddings, Anniversaries, Dinner Dances, and the occasional big name artiste / group that may be booked.
So you can see that all categories are more or less catered for in our club, a wish held dearly by those people away back in the 1930s.
Let us never forget all those people that have gone before us, who would dearly love to see the progress and success achieved by this little parish club, at the foot of the Dublin hills.
SLAN GO FOILL -----------WILLIE ROCHE.