Pre-World War II Irish Olympic Mysteries

In the past on Oldest Olympians we have looked at Australian and Canadian Olympians who were born before 1931 for whom we lack either a date of death or confirmation that they are still alive. Today we wanted to begin a two-part series looking at similar cases who represented an independent Republic of Ireland. Thanks to some excellent research by Connor Mah and Rob Gilmore, we have only a handful to cover, so today we are going to look into those Olympians who competed in the 1920s, all of whom are definitely deceased.

Mick Farrell – Member of Ireland’s football squad at the 1924 Paris Olympics

Mick Farrell, born in 1902, was a member of the St. James’ Gate Football Club when he represented Ireland in the tournament at the 1924 Paris Games, where the nation was eliminated by the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. He was with St. James’ Gate from at least 1923 through 1928, but outside of that we have been unable to trace him with any certainty. He is possibly the Michael John Farrell born February 7, 1900 who died July 14, 1968: this individual worked the Guinness Brewery in Dublin and had two brothers who were affiliated with the club, but as of yet we have no definitive tie to him being the Olympian.

(John Connor, pictured in the Northern Whig, June 18, 1951)

John Connor – Member of Ireland’s athletics delegation to the 1924 Paris Olympics

John Connor, born in 1893, won Irish national championships in the high (1924) and long jump (1925), but was best known for the triple jump, winning titles in 1921, 1924, and 1925. At the 1924 Paris Games, he placed 10th in the latter event. By career he served with the Royal Ulster Constabulary and was still alive in 1951, when he resigned from that job and was still sprinting. After that, however, we have been unable to locate further details.

(Mossy Doyle, picture in The Boston Globe, November 26, 1927, page 7)

Maurice “Mossy” Doyle – Member of Ireland’s boxing delegation to the 1924 Paris Olympics

Mossy Doyle, born May 16, 1903, was eliminated in round one of the featherweight boxing tournament at the 1924 Paris Games by upcoming gold medalist Jackie Fields of the United States. In Ireland, he won the national title in 1923, 1925, and 1926. He then had a respectable professional career in the United States from 1927 through 1931, but in the 1950s he moved back across the pond to London. His activities near the end of his life are currently a mystery, even to some of those closest to him, and in 1992 it was said that his family believed that he died in a fire a few years earlier. We have not, however, been able to uncover any confirmation of this story.

(George Kelly, pictured in the Sunday Independent, November 8, 1936)

George Kelly – Member of Ireland’s boxing delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

George Kelly won an Irish national championship in featherweight boxing in 1927, which led to his selection to represent the country at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, where he was eliminated in round one. He then had a lengthy career as a professional, which lasted until 1938 and included national lightweight titles in 1934 and 1935. Following his retirement, he appears to no longer be mentioned in newspapers, which suggests that he may have emigrated somewhere. A lack of clues about his personal details, such as his age, occupation, address, and relatives, combined with his common name, have made it difficult to learn his ultimate fate.

That is enough for today, but we have three more Olympians to cover, all of whom competed after World War II. We hope you will join us when we post about them!