Launch of Dan O’Neill’s “Divided Loyalties”

Liam Horan has been in contact to let me know about the official launch of Dan O’Neill’s book Divided Loyalties, which took place in the TF last night, presided over by Mayo doyen and former GAA President, Dr Mick Loftus.

Dan’s story, which was written in association with Liam Horan, about how he switched allegiance in the 1950s from Mayo to Louth is quite an amazing one and I’m sure it’s a tale that very few Mayo supporters nowadays know anything about (I certainly wasn’t aware of it).  Dan, who hails from Castlebar and played with distinction for the Mitchels for many years, won an NFL medal with Mayo in 1954 and was on the Connacht championship winning team the following year.  A Garda, he was then based in Louth and a disagreement with the county board over expenses led him to switch allegiance to the Wee County. His timing was fairly good in this respect as he played at midfield on the team that Dermot O’Brien captained in 1957 to capture the Sam Maguire with a victory over Cork in that year’s final.  By a strange quirk of fate, another member of that 1954 NFL-winning Mayo side – Ballaghaderreen’s Seamie O’Donnell – also featured at midfield for Louth in the 1957 final.  In doing so, the two became the last Mayomen to win All-Ireland senior championship medals.

Speaking at last night’s launch, Dan reflected on the sad fact that such a long period of time has passed since Mayo or Louth have won the Sam Maguire:

It is amazing to think that neither Louth or Mayo have won an All-Ireland senior title in the last 50 years, particularly when you consider that between them they claimed three titles in the 1950s. As a Mayo man with such a strong connection to Louth, I hope this omission is put right soon.

I haven’t yet got the book and although Liam kindly offered to send me a free copy, I feel strongly that one should always be prepared (nay, be happy) to pay the cover price of any book that takes your fancy.  This one certainly does and I understand that it’s on sale in Eason’s so I should be able to pick up a copy there at some point in the next few days.  Once I’ve had a read of it, I’ll post a review here but, by the looks of it, I already think that the book has the makings of a nice Christmas present for the Mayo GAA nut that’s close to you.

If anyone is looking for a copy and can’t locate it in your local bookshop, you can send a cheque for €20 to the publishers Low Ball Against The Wind, Cloongowla, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo and they’ll be happy to oblige.   Alternatively, you can email them at [email protected] or call (087) 918 5867.  Best of luck with the book, lads.

11 thoughts on “Launch of Dan O’Neill’s “Divided Loyalties”

  1. Great to see your site give this marvellous book such a fine airing. I have read it and its one of those books that you can dip into anywhere at anytime. Naturally it charts Dan O Neills journey as a footballer but equally it also gives us a taste of life in the 1950s as Dan gave up a permenant pensionable state job as a Garda to take a chance in mainstream life. Just like his football Dan was also successful on lifes journey. Not alone did we lose Dan but we also lost Seamus O Donnell and John Nallen from the Connacht title winning team of 1955 and the National league champs of 1954. The book has a bitter sweet moment when O Neill is accosted on his return to the home county circa 1962 by the then Mayo chairman. Despite not knowing O Neill the chairman did the following -(A) Welcomed him warmly back into the Mayo fold or -(B) told him he would never wear the Mayo jersey again ?. To get the answer you gotta buy the book. Cheers.

  2. I got it yesterday, ontheroad, and I’m looking forward very much to reading it. From a quick glance through it, I can see I’m going to enjoy it.

  3. Dan O’Neill is my Uncle and I hope his Book is a Best Seller in Ireland. Be sure to grab a Copy from all good Book Shops.

  4. I played Soccer against both of Dan’s Sons,Paul was with Sligo Rovers and Sean captained UCG when they won the Collingwood Cup,both were very good players,regards,Mike MacBride,Ex-Westport Utd,now New York City,God Bless.

  5. “UNCLE DAN”-PROUD TO BE YOUR NEPHEW.EVEN MORE PROUD THAT YOU ARE MY UNCLE AFTER READING YOUR BOOK.MY FATHER HAS ALWAYS SPOKEN HIGHLY OF YOU AND I KNOW EVEN IN HIS CURRENT CONDITION WHEN I SAY UNCLE DAN HIS FACE LIGHTENS UP. GOD BLESS YOU. PAUL

  6. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Dan O Neill today in London. He is a very charming man who knew my late dad Sean Boyle also a great GAA man.
    We spoke of Dear Barney mc Coy and Dermot O brien too ( I know all three are together RIP and having a great chat about the old days and no doubt replaying a fixture or two). Dan brought a great smile to my face today and he gave me a very special autographed copy of his wonderful book. It was a joy to meet you Dan. God Bless.
    Ruth

  7. Message for DanO’Neill. Dan, I remember you well in the late 50s in Drogheda when you were fresh in town from the west. I emigrated to the States in 1962 and recently sent an article to the D.I. thinking I could prod a response from someone who knew me. Nothing. Am down in Florida for the winter and return to North Carolina in the spring. how’s by you and do you remember the cullen sisters??? Verona Martin

  8. Dear Dan,
    Dan is my Granddad, but most importantly a lovely and kind man. He is always there and knows what to do, and im greatful for it everyday.
    Looking forward to going back and seeing him and Nancy in Easter!!
    Love Rachel x x x

  9. AMAZING THAT NEITHER LOUTH OR MAYO HAVEN’T AN ALL IRELAND TITLE SINCE IN THE PAST 50 YEARS,WHEN YOU CONSIDER THAT BETWEEN THEM THE CLAIMED THREE ALL IRELANDS TITLES IN THE FIFTYS.AS A DONEGAL MAN I ATTENDED THE FINAL 1957 LOUTH V CORK,MY WORKING FRIEND PEADAR SMITH PLAYED CENTRE BACK MOVED TO LEFT HALF BACK IN THE SECOND HALF,STEVEN TOOK OVER DURING THE SECOND HALF.YES THE TWO MAYO MEN SEAMUS O DONNELL AND DAN O NEILL,CORMAC OG BRESLIN FROM GWEEDORE CO DONEGAL PLAYED IN THE FIRST ROUND AND 2ND ROUND V CARLOW AND WEXFORD FOR LOUTH 1957. LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR DAN.RGDS CONNIE MC MAHON FINTOWN CO DONEGAL

  10. Just stumbled across the story in The Road to 51. What is it about our county that we produce such inept county boards across the generations?

    Pretty sure that Messrs. O’Neill and O’Donnell are the last Mayo men to win Sam?

    Soccer has regrettably become far stronger than the gaelic codes in Louth since they last won national honours.

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