In 1926 Ardoyne Kickhams were reformed in the wake of the Gaelic revival in Belfast . Joe Reid and some friends from St Colman’s Primary School joined the North Belfast team in 1928. These friends included Seamus McCollum and Jimmy ‘Midge’ Hasty and all three stayed with Ardoyne for three years.
Joe’s widow Margaret recalls that these three plus Dan Charleton preferred Hurling to Football and began to look for another club. They were approached in the Barmen’s Club in King Street to start a new club in the Beechmount area of the Falls Road – most were barmen and tradesmen. They all agreed and along with one of Joe’s friends, Sean Stinson, they helped found Éire Óg in 1932 . Éire Óg had their first ever Hurling match in 1932 at Corrigan Park against Davitt's, organised by Joe Reid, Midge Hasty, Dan Charleton and Hugh O’Brien, and they lined out as follows:
Joe Reid, Dan Charleton, W Bennett, W Stevenson, Matt Connolly, Albert Spotswood, Harry Devlin, Louis Corbett, Sean McCollum, Hugh O’Brien, John McGuinness, Tom Hamilton, Jimmy ‘Midge’ Hasty, Joey McTaggart, J Doherty, and John McKenna
The club's original colours were green, white and orange for the first two years, but they were changed to a red jersey with a broad white band because there was a clash of colours with Davitt’s, as well as being similar to other clubs.
In 1932, their very first year as a team, Éire Óg won the Junior Hurling League, beating Tir na nÓg 6-1 to 4-0 in the final, and Junior Hurling Championship, beating Ardoyne, Davitt’s and St John’s on the way. In 1934 Éire Óg entered the new All County Hurling League, despite still being a South Antrim side and also won the Trodden Memorial Cup. In 1935 Éire Óg had their first County hurler, Harry Devlin.
Éire Óg were a strong hurling club at this time with teams competing well in both the senior and intermediate leagues. Éire Óg pipped St Gall’s to the 1937 Intermediate Hurling title and in 1938 Harry Devlin, county hurler, was joined by fellow Ógs, Tommy Rice and Peter McGarvey, on the Antrim hurling team that defeated Galway 6-03 to 6-02 at the opening of the old Cusack Stand. The Ben Madigan Cup was also won.
It wasn't until 1938 that Éire Óg won their first football honours when they won the treble of the Junior Championship where they beat O’Connor’s in the decider, Junior League and Biggar Shield, beating St Peter’s in the final. As with Ardoyne, the Markets men stayed with their new club for three years. In 1936 Joe Reid was approached by an old friend from school, Jimmy McGivern, to meet with other St Malachy’s parishioners to form their own local club. In 1936 St Malachy’s was formed and Joe Reid became its first Chairman with Sean Stinson, secretary. That was to be Sean Stinson’s last contact with Éire Óg, though for the Reid family other links to Éire Óg would appear. Recently Joe’s son and grandson, both called Joe, played for Éire Óg.
Co-Founders of Éire Óg
Joe Reid: Joe was the youngest of three brothers and was born on January 31st 1909 in 6 Crawford Street . When he was five he attended St Colman’s Public Elementary School in Eliza Street , just around the corner from his home. There he learned how to read and write, as well as to play Gaelic Football and Hurling. After leaving school Joe went to work in the licensed trade, securing a job in O’Kane’s bar at the corner of King Street . O’Kanes was only 100 metres away from Ard Scoil where the Gaelic League, of which Sean Stinson was a member, met. Opposite O’Kanes was the Granuaille Club where it is probable that Joe and Sean met. Joe Reid owned a shoe shop on the Springfield Road . His daughter, Ann, started the Ann Reid School of Irish Dancing and performed at all the social functions run by the Éire Óg club. Joe played both football and hurling for the Ógs for many years. He was a tough player and a great clubman. His son, also named Joe, also played for Éire Óg as goalkeeper and also played a few games for the Antrim Senior football team, winning a Junior Hurling Championship medal in 1967 with Éire Óg.
Sean Stinson: There are few men who have made a greater contribution to Antrim football than Sean Stinson. He was a founder member of two Belfast clubs, Éire Óg and St Malachy’s, a member of the Antrim County Committee for almost forty years, a member of the Belfast Feis Committtee, the Glen Feis, the National Graves Association and a trustee of Casement Park . He was also a delegate to Congress for over 30 years. Sean was born in Anahorish near Bellaghy and Castledawson in 1911. He had one brother and two sisters, when his mother tragically died giving birth to Eamon, the youngest. He was only seven when his father was forced to move to Belfast to find work and they moved to the Ballymacarrett area, eventually ending up in Derby Street off the Falls Road. Sean got a job as a salesman in Sinclair’s Department Store in Royal Avenue . He met Liam Harvey and Sean Carmichael who introduced him to the Gaelic League. In later life he purchased a local bar at Crosskeys, Ahoghill. The amalgamated minor football County Antrim Championship winning team of 1989 was named after him. A few years before his untimely death, a car crash in 1979, Sean came across the Biggar Shield, now hanging in Casement Park . Francis Joseph Biggar had presented this plaque in 1907 as a prize for Camogie in an effort to promote the sport. The Shield had disappeared in the 1940’s but in 1977, Sally McGurk, widow of well known Belfast Gael, Joe McGurk, came across it in her attic and contacted Sean.
Dan Charleton: Dan Charleton came from the Ormeau Road district of Belfast. He worked for O'Connor's Wholesale Grocers before opening his own wholesale business. He opened two confectionery shops one on the Donegall Road and the other on the Andersonstown Road , which he owned until he retired. The Andersonstown shop was near St Agnes Drive and is now a barber's shop. Dan originally played for Ardoyne GAC, but being more interested in hurling, he helped found Éire Óg GAC.