Athenry Cannon Canton Hall – Spring 2004

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Situated about one hundred metres on the town side of the Church, this imposing building houses one of the oldest clubs in the Parish. It is a two-story building which is accessible via an outside stairs as well as the one inside. The building houses two snooker tables which are regarded as being the finest in the country.

In the 1905, there was a hotel on Bridge St (now Browne’s Shop). This was called the Abbey Hotel which was owned by a local man named Paddy Judge. His family grave is in the old grave yard in the square. The hotel had a fine billiards room. The billiard table they used came from the Lucan Hotel in Dublin.

The Parish Priest in Athenry at the time was a man named Canon Canton who owned a site quite near the church. He decided to give this site to the local “Temperance Society” to be used as a Parish Hall mainly for the purpose of playing billiards and snooker, as well of course, for other activities such as card games, meetings etc.

The billiards table was acquired from the Abbey Hotel. While the Canton Hall was being built one of the houses across the road from the club was used as a temporary snooker club (Miss Rabbitte’s House).

By 1930 Canon Canton had died and the Parish Priest was a man called Canon Conroy. It was unanimously agreed to call the club after the late Cannon Canton. The club was run for the first two years by the members of the Pioneer Total Abstinences Society, (a follow up to the temperance society). In 1932 it was decided to invite the general public to become paid-up members.

Incidentally 1932 was to become a very famous year in Irish history because it was the year of the Eucharistic Congress of Dublin.

I am delighted to be in possession of the minutes of all the meetings which took place in the club for the years after and including 1929-40. I have published a photocopy of the document which names the trustees, officers, life members and general membership for the year 1932. The membership is all male and there are no junior members. I don’t see anything in the constitution of the club which would deny ladies from becoming members – so come on ladies there’s always a first time.

Ironically the vast majority of our memberships at present are juniors. There were seven members of the local Gardaí among the membership in 1932 and the first perpetual trophy to be played annually was the very prestigious trophy presented to the club by the Garda Siochana. This was known as the Garda Cup. The club has a fine chairperson in Garda Kevin Devally.

At present the club runs eight major domestic competitions during the year – three senior and five junior. The highlight of the year was the hosting of the County Team Championships. The local team of Matthew Murphy, Seamus Lynch (billiards), Noel Mulkerins, Paul Donohue, and Philip Kelly were beaten by the narrowest of margins in the final (three games to two) by a fine Ballinasloe team.

The day to day running of the club is in the very capable hands of Matthew’s father Stephen Murphy, who is also the Club Treasurer. The club is used on a daily basis for other functions such as Chess Classes conducted by Christy Archer, Women’s and Children’s groups, art classes, and a variety of other types of gatherings and meetings. The regular Saturday night games of 25 (usually 9s or 6s) are always very popular.

The club has been re-furbished during the past year and new seating throughout has added greatly to everybody’s enjoyment. The annual membership fee is €10.00 for adults and €5.00 for juniors.

As a member of the committee and an officer of the club I would be delighted, as of course would any other committee member, to introduce anybody who might be interested in becoming a member. Come along and see what this fine club has to offer.

See also – Canton Hall August 1995

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About this record

Written by Séamus Lynch

Published here 04 Dec 2023 and originally published Spring 2004

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