Our History


Welcome to the Tommy Larkin's GAA club website.

Tommy Larkin's Gaelic Athletic Club was founded in 1968 with the amalgamation of the Woodford and Ballinakill clubs.

Soon after amalgamation adult hurling flourished with the senior team winning the county title in 1971. However despite the efforts of many tireless workers the club struggled to compete in the late seventies and eighties due in the most part to emigration.

In 1990 the club was relegated to the intermediate ranks, this prompted a renewed commitment to coaching at underage level. Since the nineties the club has been one of the strongest at underage level in the county with several titles at Under 12, Under 14, and Under 16 and minor including two Feile titles.

Our Crest

The club crest was designed By Albert Daniels, Drimkeary in 2004. The design was based on an original crest which dated back to the sixties. The only evidence remaining of the crest came from a tattered membership booklet making it impossible to fully replicate. However Albert stayed as close as he could to the original design and detail. What results is an embodiment of his great talent in both art and design.

Embedded in the crest are the letters T and L which appear in Celtic monogram lettering. The T and L represent the club name- Tommy Larkins.

Also present are a hurl, sliothar and football representing all Gaelic Games.

At the top of the letter T lies a hand and crucifix which represents one of the two patron hero’s Fr. Tom Larkin of Ballinakill. He was one of the most devoted lovers of all that was Irish- games, music and dancing. He fostered hurling in Ballinakill and in all East Galway when he was Chairman. He died in 1949 aged 58, RIP.

Placed at the top of the L is a pike head which represents the other patron hero Tom Larkin of Woodford. The pike head also represents the Land struggle to which Tom Larkin lost his life in 1887 at just 23 years of age. “For standing forth in his neighbours cause, he was done to death by Tory Laws”. Tommy defended Saunders Fort from eviction and when a constable treated a young girl roughly and prevented her from going to her mother, Tommy struck him a blow with his fist, and was a marked man henceforth. He died in Kilkenny jail due to neglect. A crowd of between eight and ten thousand people attended his funeral in a sign of solidarity, but when his father returned from the funeral, an ejectment decree from Clanricarde awaited him.

“In Unity There is Strength” is a translation from the original Latin motto (In Unitate Vires) which appeared on the first club crest. The colours red and black on the lettering represent the club colours while the green background represents Ireland and its long struggle for land ownership.

Who was Tommy Larkin?

As the 1972 membership card of the Tommy Larkin’s Hurling Club shows, this Club is named after two Tommy Larkins. One was Tommy Larkin of the Saunders’ Fort fame. The other was the late Very Rev. Thomas Larkin, P.P., of Ballinakill. He played a leading part in G.A.A affairs in Co. Galway in the 1920’s and ‘30’s and it was he who coached the great Tynagh teams which won ten Co. Galway senior championships and supplied the backbone of the Galway team which won the All-Ireland of 1923.

Fr. Tom Larkin, Ballinakill was one of the most devoted lovers of all that was Irish – Games, Music, and Dancing. He fostered Hurling in Ballinakill in the ‘good old days’ and in all East Galway when he was Chairman. He died in 1949, aged 58 R.I.P.

To research the other Tommy Larkin we must hark back to the darkest days of landlordism in the mid 1880’s when Lord Clanricarde’s conduct towards his tenants, especially in the Woodford area had in the words of the Chief Barron Pallas “aroused the indignation of the empire”. Even the London ‘Times’ commented: ‘Lord Clanricarde has treated his tenants with incredible baseness.’

In the two years, 1883 and 1884, Clanricarde drew the huge total of £47,000 from his properties in South East Galway. When a disastrous drop in the value of livestock occurred in the following year, the hard pressed tenants applied for a reduction in the rents. When their applications were treated with contemptuous indifference, the tenants entered into a common agreement to resist Clanricarde’s demand for payment in full. Their action was of paramount importance in the agrarian history of Ireland.

Plan of Campaign:

The tenants of Woodford parish thus put their ‘Plan of Campaign’ into action and honoured their pledges to it, to the letter. Clanricarde met the challenge with boldness and at his request a large body of Constabulary, of more than 500 in number, was drafted in for the purpose of evicting tenants in the area. The people met this attack by every means in their power, short of armed-resistance. They barricaded houses listed for sacking and made them into little fortresses, the best-known of which became ‘Saunders’ Fort’. The farms were garrisoned by a number of young men of the district and amongst the bravest was young Tommy Larkin.

Packed Juries:

By means of packed juries the greater number were found guilty of the charge of resisting the bailiffs and were sentenced to severe terms of imprisonment with hard labour varying from six to eighteen months by the same Chief Baron Pallas who had earlier spoken harshly of Clanricarde’s treatment of his tenants.


For their spirited resistance seventy-five young men of Woodford were arrested and lodged in gaol where they were treated as ordinary criminals pending their trials at Sligo.

Kilkenny Gaol

Kilkenny gaol was so overcrowded by the numbers of prisoners, that an epidemic broke out and young Tommy Larkin fell seriously ill and was cruelly neglected. He died in prison without the solace of priest or doctor, unattended and uncared for by any relative or friend. His mortal remains were taken home for burial and thousands lined the funeral route in the greatest public demonstration of sympathy and solidarity ever recorded in rural Ireland. Tommy Larkin’s heart-broken father, on returning from the funeral, found a writ of ejectment awaiting him.


A coroner’s jury found that Tommy Larkin died from the neglect of the prison authorities. But what did the death of one brave young man mean to the Government of the day? Nothing and no further notice was taken of the matter by the authorities.

But the name of Tommy Larkin lives on and endures in the minds and hearts of a once stricken countryside and is now carried with pride by the young hurlers of his native place.

The Ballad of Tommy Larkin

By Mick Stone

You feeling Christians, I pray attend,

While I sing these verses, I have lately penned

The tears of anguish down my cheeks do sail

Since they killed my boy in Kilkenny Jail.

Thomas Larkin was my dear son’s name

From the County Galway his parents came

For being noble in a neighbour’s cause

He was done to death by Tory Laws.

At Gurteeny, Woodford, my darling child

Oft roamed in freedom through the meadows wild,

Till the crowbar faction one morning came

To evict some tenants, to the agent’s shame.

My son, Tommy, though quite a boy

Saw the sheriff wreck each house with joy

But when a bailiff gave a child a blow

My courageous, Tommy, soon laid him low.

For this noble action, my only son

Into the prison was quickly run

Far, far away from his parents dear,

They locked my boy in a prison drear.

The only son of an elderly pair,

Whom we educated with the greatest care;

A finer young man you could not pass

In the town of Woodford going to Mass.

In Kilkenny jail, that living hell,

They threw my boy in a narrow cell,

And kept him pining both night and day

Till the flesh decayed from his bones away.

When I saw his corpse coming from the cell

I did not know the truth to tell

His cheeks were sunken as if in distress

And the Coroner’s verdict may tell the rest.

God bless the clergy who came that day

To see my boy in the train away.

There were fathers Dalton and Corcoran,

Rowan, Brennan and more clergymen.

The “guard” procession, its way did wind

You’d think it was never going to end

The sight imposing was very grand

As they marched along with their noble band.

Upon each brow was the sign of care

O’ Brien (William) in mourning, with our Lord Mayor,

Not a word was spoken by one at all

While the band did play “The Dead March in Saul”.

May the God of Mercy receive his soul,

May our Blessed Lady, his friends console,

Peter Larkin his son bewail,

He was doomed to death in Kilkenny Jail.

Woodford Hurling team 1914

By Michael Power (Powerscross)

From Woodford town of old renown, went our sturdy team one day,

From the hillside brown the streams rushed down, Barkhill beside the bay.

We’re proud of you, brave hurlers true, we’re proud our parish bore you,

Throughout the soil of Erin’s Isle, you have beaten all before you.

Could I lines unfold like Moore of old, were I Thackeray or Byron,

I would sing for you the praises due, for twice beating Kilconoiron!

On the Loughrea train, one day again, we went with pride and joy,

To view our fifteen hurling men, in the town of Athenry.

We reached the station midst animation, of both the East and West,

From Woodford Bay to Claregalway, we were known to be the best.

But to decide it on the field we tried it, ‘neath Summer’s scorching sun,

In weather glorious we were victorious, now we’ve the County honours won.

The whistle sounded, the ball was grounded, Stanley found it and sent it high,

While opponents feared him, all men cheered him, on the Gaelic fields of Athenry.

He is straight and tall and admired by all, you could compare him to no other.

You could Ireland pick to rival Dick, our gallant captain’s brother.

With the Coens in back we fear no attack, from German, Greek or Turk,

Submarine or bomb, let Zepplins come, they’ll be manned by Conroy and Burke.

The Fahys three and Jack Grady, are worthy of our attention,

With Kelly and Page on the fullforward stage, the Gormans here we’ll mention.

Now we have named our team that was famed, in North, South, East and West,

On that bright June day, when all Galway did say, Woodford are again the country’s best.

If on those lines you muse, I pray you’ll excuse, if the composer has been unruly,

For in haste did he stitch these lines on the ditch, and as ever he remains yours truly.