History of Owen O'Sullivan

The late Owen O'Sullivan was born at Rath Beg Firies, Co. Kerry on 3rd February 1938. He attended Firies National School where he was taught by Hannah and Patrick Mannix of Cloonmealane, both now deceased. His classmates at school included Owen and Patrick O'Sullivan Lisheen, Dinny Foley Firies Cross, Patsy O'Sullivan Ballybrack, Firies, Tossy O'Sullivan Firies Village, and John O'Donoghue Gortnaglogh. Having finished his primary education he attended Tralee Vocational School from where he took up an apprenticeship in the motor trade with Kelliher’s Garage/Denny St, now moved out to Rathass Tralee.

Owen’s introduction to Gaelic football was at Tralee Tech where he played with the school team which won the 1954/55 County Tech's Championship. In 1955 he won a minor Parish League with Kilnanare (eleven aside) a team which included his brother Denis, Pat Cronin Rath Beg, Joe Murphy Rath Beg, Tossy Sullivan Firies, Dinny Foley Firies Cross, Patsy Sullivan Ballybrack Firies, Michael P. Foley Cloonmealane, Eugie Casey Cloonmealane, Seamus Riordan Longfield, and John O'Donoghue Gortnaglogh. The Trophy for this competition was the Fr. O'Leary Cup, which was originally put up for a senior Parish League, and played for in 1953 and 1954. As a result of disputes, it was decided to abandon the idea of a senior league, and to organise instead a league for minors, Ballyhar, Farranfore, and Kilnanare.

In 1955 Owen and Denis played minor for Milltown. Firies did not have a club, and Milltown and Glenbeigh met in the Mid-Kerry final. Among those who played for Glenbeigh were Teddy Bowler and Gerry Riordan. During the late 1950's Firies did not have a team, and as a result some players threw in their lot with Listry, while others went with Kilcummin.

Owen played for Kilcummin for one year and then transferred to Kerins O'Rahilly's. While with the Tralee club he played in the County Final of 1961 against John Mitchels. At left half back his direct opponent was the late Paudie Sheehy. Mitchels won 2-9 to 0-8. In 1962 Owen married Kathleen O'Sullivan of Minish, and transferred back to Firies. Around the same time he opened his own garage at Farranfore, in the building which was formerly Collins' dance hall. There he ran a very successful business of motor repairs and sales.

As a player Owen had no peers when it came to determination or courage. There is an old saying in G.A.A. circles which goes "he would put his head in where another man would not dare put his foot. Owen was the epitome of this brand of courage. Having finished with the playing of the game Owen turned his attentions to the administrative side, and having served as Secretary, he took over the job of Chairman. It was while still Chairman of the Club that he was involved in the road accident that eventually led to his death on 15th January 1975.

His funeral from Firies Church to Kilnanare cemetery was one of the largest seen in the area, with G.A.A. people from all over the County swelling the local crowd. He is survived by his wife Kathleen and a family of five sons and one daughter.

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