Garryowen Football Club was founded in Limerick in 1884, and takes its name from the Garryowen area of Limerick. The word Garryowen – the gardens of John – relates to the association in the 12th century between St. John’s Church and the Knights Templar whose house in Limerick was dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
The idea for the founding of Garryowen originated outside Trehy’s house (facing Carey’s Road) when a small group including amongst others Alderman Mike Joyce MP, Alderman Tom Prendergast, William Prendergast (his brother), felt that Limerick should have a first class senior rugby club. After a number of meetings held in the Catholic Institute, the club was formally constituted at a meeting held on 19th September 1884, in the Athenaeum (later the Royal Cinema), in Upper Cecil St., and from those humble beginnings, one of rugby football’s greatest institutions began.
The name Garryowen came to symbolise Limerick and Ireland for our exiles all over the world. The marching song of the US 7th Cavalry is Hurrah for Garryowen and in the First World War, the Munster Fusiliers dribbled a ball shouting Up Garryowen as their war cry, as they went over the front into battle. The white five-pointed star on the left breast of the Garryowen jersey represents the then five mediaeval parishes of Limerick – St. Mary’s, St. Munchin’s, St. Michael’s, St. Patrick’s and St. John’s.
The reputation that Garryowen Football Club has achieved wherever the game is played has been earned as a result of the consistent success of Garryowen teams spanning 125 years, right throughout the ranks from under age to senior levels.
Many famous individuals and families have represented the club, their province, country or hemisphere with distinction. Ordinary names that summon memories of extraordinary men: the O’Connor’s, O’Sullivans, Quilligans, Reids, Woods, Wallaces; Jack MacAulay, Jack O’Sullivan (each of whom was capped by Ireland, and went on to become President of the IRFU), Paddy Reid, Dave O’Loughlin, Sean MacNamara, Brendan Morgan and Gordon Wood, Pat Whelan, Eddie Molloy, Billy Cronin, Tony Ward, Willie Sexton, Keith Wood (who followed his father Gordon’s footsteps into Garryowen, Munster, Ireland and Lions front rows) Richard Wallace and his brother David, Paul Hogan. Damien Varley became the latest light blue to be honoured when he received his first cap v Australia in 2010. Men that have taken up their inheritance and the long tradition of fierce passion and tenacity mixed with a flair for the running game.
Throughout the club’s long history, whether playing in the Market’s Field, or Dooradoyle since 1958, Garryowen Football Club has always had – and always will have – success in competitive football as our raison d’être. Our achievements section will give you details of those successes. Every player who pulls on a light blue jersey with a white star on it, whether for the first or last time, has become part of a journey that has seen consistent success, whatever the competition. Today, our eyes are firmly fixed on the future, but our hearts and minds are set very much in our inheritance – our very proud tradition.
Garryowen FC have won the All Ireland League on three occasions, and throughout our 125-year history we have won the Munster Senior Cup thirty seven times, making us by far the most successful club in what is one of Ireland’s toughest and most prestigious competitions.
Garryowen players have represented Ireland throughout our history, with eight of these performing with distinction on various Lions and in many cases Barbarians sides. One of our most famous players is one of our favourite – 2002 World Rugby Player of the Year, Keith Wood. With David Wallace, he brought huge pride to all in the club following his performances in Australia for the Lions, in 2001, and of course on his first Lions tour to South Africa 1997.
Every position on the Irish team has been filled at some stage by a Garryowen player, underlining our commitment to a balance of tough forward play with a very open running style. This site will give you an opportunity to find out about current players, our ground breaking Academy – the only one of its kind in Ireland, keep in touch with what’s happening in the club, view fixtures and results, read match reports and to stay in contact with the club, whether you are in Limerick, or are one of our many members around the world.