Medals and memorabilia of forgotten Galway GAA legend to go under the hammer

He became the county’s first dual star, and only player to achieve success in both sports. McGrath is a member of an elite group of only 16 players to achieve this accolade, in the GAA’s long history.
Medals and memorabilia of forgotten Galway GAA legend to go under the hammer
Leonard McGrath pictured extreme bottom first on left. Picture: Sarah Slater

Leonard McGrath , who was born in Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia clinched a senior medal for Galway in the county’s first hurling All-Ireland final in 1923 playing at full forward.

Two years later, he played on the county’s All-Ireland Football winning team, which also became Galway’s first title in football.

He became the county’s first dual star, and only player to achieve success in both sports. McGrath is a member of an elite group of only 16 players to achieve this accolade, in the GAA’s long history.

As a young boy, he returned to his parent’s native land and was reared in Galway.

He qualified as a teacher in 1918 at St. Patrick’s College. In 1922 he came to the fore and was a member of the Galway Senior Hurling, winning a Connaught title.

However, because he also played rugby he was expelled from the GAA for playing a ‘foreign sport’. McGrath was a member of the winning Galwegians team beating UCG 3-0 in the 1926-27 season.

The unique collection which is estimated to be worth between €15,000 to €20,000, which his decedents have held since his death, are up for grabs as part of a timed online auction from Monday, April 27 to May 5 with Fonsie Mealy auctioneers who are based in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

He also excelled in golf and cricket. Off the field he was a highly regarded singer and participated in many Feis Ceoils, and other singing competitions.

McGrath is pictured top row second to the left. Picture: Sarah Slater.
McGrath is pictured top row second to the left. Picture: Sarah Slater.

Auction director George Mealy said: “He was a true all-rounder on and off the field, and he really is a forgotten member of Irish sport. His life has become a lost story. His life tale doesn’t get more uplifting than this.

Leonard achieved it all - he truly was a sports giant before we had the likes of rugby giants prior to Karl Mullen and Brian O’Driscoll, hurling and football heroes such as Kilkenny’s Henry Shefflin and Bernard Brogan of Dublin.

Other interesting lots include a highly important IRA Army Council Archive dating from1924 to 1925 and 1929 and 1931.

Lot 274 which has a guide price of €1,500 is a central file of documents sent to and issued by the IRA’s Chief of Staff, who for much of the period covered was Moss (Maurice) Twomey.

A large collection of Republican postcards which include images of Roger Casement, Countess Constance Markievicz, Pádraig Pearse, and Thomas MacDonagh worth up to €700

Lot 238 is from the De Lorean Motor Company Belfast and comprises two large ‘blue-prints’ for sections of the factory and associated facilities, by Brodie & Hawthorn, Architects, Belfast 1979.

Leonard McGrath's medals and memorabilia going under the hammer. Picture: Sarah Slater.
Leonard McGrath's medals and memorabilia going under the hammer. Picture: Sarah Slater.

The De Lorean Company, was not a commercial success, and material connected with the company is scarce. The car is famous from its exposure in the futuristic movie trilogy, Back to the Future, and is guiding at €300

For whiskey lovers, lot 415, the Irish, Green Spot, from John Jameson & Son, Old Irish Whiskey. Distilled at Jameson’s Bow Street Distillery and bottled at 10-years old by Mitchell & Son, in Dublin in the 1950s guiding at €1,250 to €1,750.

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