Lurgan Boys at St Mary’s CBGS

by Jimmy Smith (Armagh Captain, 1977)

Mr Jimmy Smith


The 1947 Education Act acted as the springboard for an ever-increasing group of pupils who had passed the “11 plus” and thus continued their education in far-off towns. Most of those pupils, like myself, attending either St Colman’s or St Pat’s, would have done so as a boarder and consigned ourselves to seven years of meagre food, operettas and football!

However, for a sizeable band of Lurgan boys, the train that pulled out of William Street had a northern destination – namely Great Victoria Street in Belfast. They had chosen the Christian Brothers as their educators and their school in Barrack Street, which opened in 1929, acted as a magnet for Lurgan pupils. Some of those early arrival were the Murray boys, Alf, Peter and John, while three Kellys, namely Gerard, Pat and Hugh also arrived at the Belfast school.

Alf Ó Muirí, Former President of the GAA

Alf Ó Muirí, Former President of the GAA

Alf Murray, it could possibly be claimed, is certainly, in terms of the GAA, Barrack Street’s most famous past pupil in terms of his role in the GAA as President, a champion of the Irish language and a footballer who was on the first Ulster team to collect the Railway Cup in 1942 and who was selected on many teams of the century.

His brothers, Peter and John, also left their mark in footballing circles in Armagh, both on the field and in the boardroom.

(to be continued)