Joan Gertrude O'Reilly

(17/09/1924 - 10/01/2014)

Joan O’Reilly died on 10 January 2014 at eighty nine years of age. She was one of six children. Her father traded as butchers from 33 Sundrive Road where the family also lived until they moved circa 1942 to 125 Galtymore Road. Joan worked as a pork butcher in the family premises and her brother sold beef at the same place. Her sister ran a drapery shop nearby.

She previously attended a private secondary school called De Loreto College where she took to playing hockey. However, she preferred sprinting. Unfortunately she couldn’t compete in the 1948 Olympics due to church opposition to women participating in sports such as track and field events. Nevertheless, she was able to compete successfully at other events. In 1949 the Women’s Athletic Association of Ireland held its first meeting and O’Reilly won both the 100 and 200 yard races

The opposition of the catholic hierarchy to women competing in athletics led O’Reilly and others to participate in team sports. From 1942 she joined a hockey team and from 1945 she joined the Muckross Hockey Club.

A highlight came her way when competing in 1950 to take the Hockey Triple Crown. The match against England was a historic victory in Belfast as this was the first time Ireland had beaten them since 1908.

She took part in many international competitions including South Africa (1950) and Folkestone (1953). In 1954 she captained a tour of the USA where they won 22 of their 24 matches. She played in Amsterdam (1959).

A journalist noted that O’Reilly was ‘bamboozling opposing defences with her astounding speed and setting up scoring chances for her inside forwards’ (Evening Herald, 15 Oct. 1959).

After retirement from playing for Muckross, Leinster and Ireland in 1959, O’Reilly took up umpiring, gaining an ‘A’ badge in 1965, which qualified her to officiate at international fixtures. She became involved in the formation of the Irish Umpires Association, and engaged closely in the general organisation and management of Irish hockey.

A prominent figure in Irish hockey over four decades, she was regarded as one of the great hockey players of her generation and was an inaugural inductee into the Irish Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.

Later in life, she took to playing bridge and golf. She passed away at the Belmont Nursing Home, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, where she had lived for a period of time.

Person Photo
Connection with area: Hockey player, athlete and sports administrator who was born and lived in 33 Sundrive Road and ran a butchers there.