The road to ’51

It’s the time of year once again for books and there’s one being launched this weekend which is sure to be of great interest to Mayo GAA followers. The Road to 51 by James Laffey, editor of the Western People, tells the story of Mayo’s footballing history from the county’s first appearance in a senior All-Ireland final in December 1916 up to when we won our third – and still most recent – All-Ireland title in 1951. In that dizzying 35-year period, we won three All-Irelands, eight National Leagues and 18 provincial titles in what truly was a Golden Era for the county.

The early years covered in the book were also, of course, very turbulent ones politically and an interesting feature of the book is that it includes non-football material relating to the War of Independence and the Civil War that followed it. Civil War of a different nature – the brouhaha surrounding the destination of the 1925 All-Ireland – is also covered in detail, as are discussions on the county team’s two trips to America in the Thirties as well as all the big games from that period, in particular those that took place in the breakthrough year of 1936.

James has drawn heavily on existing archive material for much of that early period, making use of rare interviews given by people like Paddy Quinn and Gerald Courell. His discussion of events in the Forties and Fifties is heavily based on interviews with all the surviving players from that period, including Padraig Carney, Mick Mulderrig and Paddy Prendergast, who have given very extensive interviews. The book contains about 200 pictures and other images, mainly drawn from private archives, many of which have never been published before.

The formal launch of The Road to 51 takes place this coming Saturday (November 12th) at the Courthouse Hotel in Ballina where throw-in is set for 8.30pm and where An Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be doing the honours.

9 thoughts on “The road to ’51

  1. Great to see our history being recorded. Fair play to James for doing this. I look forward to reading the book.

  2. That era was such a rich time in Mayo’s history, I glad James put this book together. Can’t wait to get a copy.

  3. its high time we won another, the book is probably a good read but its seems desperate that we have to hark back over 60 years to talk about victory. just sayin.

  4. I am interested in obtaining a copy of ‘Road 51’ by James Lally. I live in Clondalkin, Dublin 24. Could you let me know where I may able to get a Copy or give me a Name to contact.
    Your’s Sincerely
    Vincent Halpin

  5. Hi Vincent – the only place in Dublin that I know it’s on sale in is in O’Hara’s Spar shop on Vernon Avenue in Clontarf, which is obviously the wrong side of town for you. However, it’s also available online from (link here) or else you could try emailing James Laffey directly at

  6. My Grandfather was Dick Hearns- the Mayo physical Coach and renowned boxer.
    Just found out about this book today from a gentleman in New York City!

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