Famous Sporting Families Meet

Southern Star – October 12, 1985
By John Wilcock

On Saturday, October 5, 1985, in Ballydehob, members of two of Irelands most famous sporting families met for the first time in the West Cork village, where the late Danno Mahony, world heavyweight wrestling champion in 1935, was born. Steve Casey from Sneem, Co. Kerry, who won the world heavyweight title in 1938, was home on holiday from the U.S.A. and together with his brother Paddy, also on holiday from London, and Jack, a successful farmer in Sneem, and a keen deep sea fisherman, travelled to Ballydehob to visit Dannos brothers, William, Jack and Dermot.

It was a very special meeting for the famous six men, who excelled in sporting circles far and wide, powerful men in their day, exceeding six feet in height and upwards to 16 stone weight. All were splendid athletes, men of striking physique and remarkable strength, the O’Mahonys had many record performances in the 56 lb. weight and hammer events. At tug-owar the fame of the Casey and O’Mahony brothers was recognised throughout Ireland and also abroad. The Casey brothers skills at rowing are unequalled to this day. Jacks son, Michael Noel Casey, was coach to the England rowing team at last years Olympics in Los Angeles and Jacks daughters Bernie and Caroline have been All-Ireland champions and in 1984 won the sculls and pairs at Henleys famous regatta.

Paddy Casey had his career cut short by back injury. Viewers will have been him being interviewed by Brendan OReilly on R.T.E.s “Talk of Times Past” shown on September 14. Paddy with three of his brothers won the Henley Fours and wrestled for Britain at the Olympic semi-final in 1936. Steve Casey returned home to Cohasset, Mass., U.S.A. on Monday, October 7. Since his last wrestling bout in 1946 he has maintained his interest in sport and taught rowing and coached wrestling at Harvard University. The Casey brothers sp9oke with great affection of Danno. Steve said “we all lost a great friend when Danno died and more especially me.” The meeting was at times emotional as they recalled old memories and it was very evident that both the O’Mahonys and Caseys had great respect for each others families, and their meeting that day marked an unforgettable experience long to be remembered by them and strengthen with affection their bond of friendship.

The reception for the occasion took place at “The Irish Whip” hosted by John and Cathy Wilcock who welcomed the Casey and O’Mahony brothers and said it was an honour to share such an historic occasion. John Levis, chairman of the Danno Memorial Committee, extended a warm welcome to the Casey brothers on behalf of his committee and the people of Ballydehob. It was, he said, a great honour to be in the presence of the great Steve (Crusher) Casey, who was the mightiest of Dannos opponents. Mr. Levis went on to say that it was a great pleasure that through the efforts of Mr. Jack Pollard and Paddy Casey they were able to include so much in the Danno Book relating to the Casey family from Sneem.

It was indeed an historic day that will long be remembered in Ballydehob and he thanked them for coming to Ballydehob. Mr. Jack Pollard, author of the Danno book, read extracts from the book relating to the Caseys, and referred in particular to the “biggest hands in sport” Steve Caseys, which measured an incredible 28 span.

Mr. Pollard related that the “Casey reputation” goes back a generation. Their father Michael was a big man who sparred with the great John L. O’Sullivan, a mighty achievement indeed. John Levis also recalled that the O’Mahonys’ father, “Big Dan,” also features in the Danno book, and how at a sports meeting at Union Hall Big Dan won six events and was known as “the idol of West Cork.” There were numerous other tributes recalling the feats of both families, that will live on in memories and have their place in sporting records. Mrs. Nora McSweeney, Stouke, added to the warmth and friendliness of the occasion with a lovely floral arrangement and a beautifully decorated cake with the inscription “Welcome Steve, Paddy and Jack Casey from the O’Mahonys, Ballydehob.”

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