Chance Remark Finds Referee
Kildare footballer and 1919 All-Ireland Football Winner Mick Sammon was the referee for the match between Tipperary and Dublin during which the tragic events known as Bloody Sunday took place in Croke Park. The following article on this matter appeared in The Irish Press on December 21 1966.
From time to time “Question Corner” gets the opportunity of clearing up a point of historical interest. Such is the case this week, when we feel that we have, with a share of luck and plenty of research, succeeded in adding at least a footnote to a tragic episode of the War of Independence that is still vividly remembered, Bloody Sunday at Croke Park.
Over the past few months we have got several questions asking us who was the referee on that sorrowful day. We found the answer without any trouble. ‘M.Sammon’ the papers said, but for weeks and weeks we failed to find any clue as to exactly who this ‘M. Sammon’ was.
Then a colleague, passing through Celbridge was by a remarkable coincidence shown a house and told “The man who refereed the match on Bloody Sunday lived there”. And from there on we found all the information we wanted.
Michael Sammon was, on that November day in 1920, when he came out to referee the senior football challenge game between ‘Tipperary and Dublin, himself as well-known a footballer as there was in Ireland.
Less than twelve months, before he had partnered the brilliant Larry Stanley at midfield for Kildare when the Lily Whites came from nowhere to win the All-Ireland senior title of 1919. And he was particularly well known to the Dublin crowd, because he had been resident during his earlier years training.
But when employed in a hosiery in Townsend Street, Mick Sammon became friendly with a gate-porter at Trinity College.
Through the good offices of this man, Sammon and some members of the Dublin hurling team also in training for a big game, notably Tommy Moore and Mick Neville of the Faughs, who were also Grocers’ Assistants, used to train in darkness in College Park after closing time.
In later years Mick Sammon, in partnership with a friend, Paddy Moore, took over the bar that is now the Pearl Bar in Fleet Street, but was then popularly known as The Feathers.
In those days Mick Sammon was a noted fancier of Kerry Blue terriers and indeed the Kerry Blue Society used to meet at ‘The Feathers’. A usual sight in O’Connell Street at the time was Mick Sammon out for a stroll with a couple of Kerry Blues on a leash.
Also a great lover of greyhounds, Mick Sammon, when he subsequently sold his interest in the Fleet St. premises and bought the business in Celbridge which is still run by the family, had far greater scope for gratifying his love of coursing.
It is a love which the family still carries on for, though Mick Sammon himself died some years ago, his daughter Maura, now Mrs. Michael O’Reilly of Maynooth is a keep coursing follower and holds a nomination in the National Open Cup at Droichead Nua.
One point alone we failed to clear up. How did Mick Sammon get out of Croke Park on Bloody Sunday? None of the many people who helped us answer this question could help us there.
Perhaps John Joe Callanan below in Thurles, who, with the late Bob Mockler, was umpire for Tipperary that day, might be able to throw some further light on that aspect of Bloody Sunday.