‘Toughest family on Earth’ to be celebrated

A 92-year-old US woman who met her colourful Irish husband in most unusual circumstances will tonight recall the event.




Myrtle Casey will be in Sneem, Co Kerry, to celebrate the renowned Casey brothers — once dubbed the “toughest family on Earth” — and especially her late husband, Jim Casey.

She will be returning to the birthplace of seven sporting brothers who became famous for their sheer physical strength, as well as becoming champion wrestlers and rowers.

But it was Myrtle who, literally, brought Jim, a man feared by opponents in the ring, to his knees one night in 1945.

During a wrestling match in Galveston, Texas, Jim was thrown out of the ring by his opponent and sent crashing into three people seated in the front row.

They were a Mr and Mrs Dougherty and a young lady named Myrtle Gillmore, who worked for Mr Dougherty. All 240lbs of a splendid specimen of manhood came hurtling at them, knocking them to the floor and causing back injuries to Mr Dougherty and Myrtle.

After the match, Jim came to check their condition and so they underwent a second and “proper” introduction. The following Monday, Myrtle was called upon to work as a substitute cashier at the Isle cinema. And who should appear in search of a ticket only big Jim Casey.

They were married in San Francisco in Jan 1946, with Jim’s brother Steve, a world champion wrestler, as their best man.

Myrtle will now be paying a nostalgic visit to Sneem for the launch of a book, The Legendary Casey Brothers, penned by Jim Hudson, with Jim Casey.

Jim spent most of his life in the US where he became a successful businessman in real estate following his career in the ring. He lived in Dickinson, Texas, and died in 2000.

The book celebrates the Casey brothers’ feats in tug of war, rowing, wrestling, and boxing in Ireland, Britain, and the US. They are the only family to be inducted into the Irish Sports Hall of Fame.

Olympic gold medallist Ronnie Delaney, who unveiled a bronze statue of Steve “Crusher” Casey — rated the most famous of the brothers — in Sneem in 2000, will launch the book. Kerry football legend Mick O’Connell will be guest speaker.

* The Legendary Casey Brothers is published by The Collins Press, and costs €14.99.

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