Paddy ‘Bawn’ Brosnan‘s Football Boots
There’s a pair of boots belonging to Paddy ‘Bawn’ Brosnan in the Lár na Páirce collection. They are an old-fashioned pair of brown boots with white laces. Well-worn leather cogs stud the soles and the leather comes well up over the ankle. The leather is dried out and hard now and the caption attributes them to 1952.
There’s a problem about their provenance because the footballer ‘was famously reputed to have never owned a pair in his life.’
‘The only training I need for football is a few days on dry land to stretch my legs, borrow some boots and play away,’ he once said.
There are a lot of stories about Paddy Bawn, who was a fisherman by profession, but those who knew him claimed that he trained hard and made a huge impression on Kerry football.
He may not have been the greatest footballer to wear the Kerry jersey but was the most colourful ‘as myth merged with man during his fifteen years on the county team from 1938-1952.’
John B. Keane describes him as indestructible:
‘And Paddy Bawn, now when he came out with the ball after saving the goal was he hit hard?’
‘Hit hard is it? If he was a stone wall he’s be in rubble.’
‘It had no effect on him, so?
‘No effect at all, sure it only straightened him.’
Paddy Bawn cultivated this image of toughness. Fishermen never had much time for football, but Paddy changed that. He was a forward in his early days but found himself relocated to full-back for the All-Ireland final replay in 1938 to plug the gap left by Joe Keohane, who was missing for the day
It was a disastrous debut as he dropped the ball for Galway’s first goal and was bustled in over the goal-line for another. He was blamed for losing the All-Ireland and his inter-county career seemed over. It was only starting though, as he returned to the forward line to win All-Irelands in 1940 and 1941.
He won his third All-Ireland in 1946 and was established in the full-back line from 1947 onwards. In 1949 he took over from the great Joe Keohane at full-back and as one writer described him ‘He became the warrior fisherman who held the Kerry ship afloat at the back.’
Paddy Bawn Brosnan made forty senior football championship appearances for Kerry. He played in 10 Munster finals, winning 9, and in six All-Ireland finals, winning three.
One of his greatest displays was in the 1951 All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo. He was outstanding in defence and his legend was boosted by the fact that he had survived a shipwreck to take his place on the team. His trawler was wrecked in Brandon Creek early in the summer and his team mates helped raise funds to replace the boat.
According to one source ‘the man who was reputed never to have worn a pair of boots of his own, had been given a pair by Paddy O’Donoghue from Dykegate lane in Dingle.’