The death took place on Sunday last of Tom McNicholas, who was the last surviving member of the Mayo All-Ireland winning team of 1936. Tom was, in fact, the oldest surviving All-Ireland winning medallist in Gaelic football. He was ninety-six last August.
Tom McNicholas was originally from Treenagleragh, Kiltimagh, and was a member of that breakthrough Mayo team that won a slew of NFL titles in the 1930s as well as the county’s first senior All-Ireland in 1936. According to my records, Tom played at right corner-back on the Mayo team that beat Fermanagh in the 1935 league final and he also lined out at left half-back on the team that prevailed over Wexford in the 1938 NFL decider.
In 1936, he played in all of Mayo’s championship matches up to and including the All-Ireland semi-final, where he featured at centre-forward in the side that beat Kerry by two points. He was then unable to line out in the final itself as he was teaching outside the county at that time and so could not take part in the two weeks’ collective training that was held in the run-up to what turned out to be an historic first All-Ireland final victory for the county.
Tom was, however, on the travelling party that went to America in 1937, with the team and officials spending four weeks in the States that year during which time they played matches in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.
This photo (Tom is in the back row, third from right) was taken at the New York match and is reproduced from Terry Reilly’s book The Green Above The Red. (Double-click on the photo for a full-size view).
Dermot Crowe in The Sunday Independent did a lovely, in-depth piece on Tom in 2010, the link to which is here. My thanks to the McNicholas family in Kiltimagh for pointing me in the direction of this article and also for providing me with the photo above of Tom and his daughters, which was taken at the Kiltimagh GAA dinner dance a few years back.
Tom had lived in Dublin since 1963 and it was at his home in Glenageary that he died on Sunday. The removal takes place this evening (Tuesday) from Quinn’s of Glasthule to St. Joseph’s Church, also in Glasthule, arriving at 6 pm. His funeral Mass is on tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11 am with burial afterwards at Shanganagh Cemetery. The funeral notice is here.
May this great servant of football within the county rest in peace.