Our Club is named after Charles Joseph Kickham, born in Mullinahone co Tipperary in 1828. A gunpowder accident in childhood injured his eyesight and hearing.
As a young man he took part in the “Young Ireland” movement and joined the Fenians in 1860.
Arrested in 1865, he was condemned to 14 years penal servitude, but served only four. He wrote verse and short stories, some of which were collected and published in 1870 as “Poems, Sketches and Narratives Illustrative of Irish Life”
He had already published some novels, including “Rory of the Hill” (1857) and Sally Cavanagh” (1869), written while he was in prison. In 1887 he published “Knochnagow”, generally accepted as his finest work. He died at Blackrock, Dublin in 1882.
The announcement of a special get together in the Cooley area first appeared as a news item in the local paper in March 1887. The piece under the name of Cooley Independents intimated that a group had commenced practice on Sunday, March 27th, 1887, in a field at Castletowncooley kindly given by Rev. Hugh Murphy, P.P. Cooley. That was the start of this new game called Gaelic Football and to this day the sport continues to illuminate the lives of Peninsula men, women and children.
After a number of difficult years, Cooley Independents became Cooley Emmets and finally in 1905 the name Cooley Kickhams was adopted. The 1907 team produced a first Championship success, the Intermediate title, and already the wearers of the famed blue jersey emblazoned with a white shamrock provoked not only admiration, debate, controversy and enjoyment, but also provided hours of happiness and entertainment for Cooley folk. A junior championship success in 1916, followed by a first senior final appearance in 1917 kept football interest alive but the civil unrest throughout the early 1920s greatly curtailed football activity and it was not until 1925 that the national game got a new lease of life. A colour change took place in 1926 and the famed green and golds brought the Kickhams into their first golden period, the 1930s, when they won two senior championships and numerous league titles.
There was little success in the late 1940s, the 1950s were a tough struggle to keep the club in existence, but the early 1960s brought a big change. 1964 will long be remembered as the year Cooley won the junior treble, Championship, McArdle Cup and Dundalk Junior League. A number of senior final appearances, league titles and Old Gaels Cup successes led to their first Minor Championship victory in 1968.
The dream of having their own sports field gained momentum through the early 1960s and a lot of hard work went in to developing that dream when a new site was obtained at Monksland. It was a proud moment for Cooley Kickhams and the people of Cooley when on 13th July 1969 the then President of the GAA, Seamus O’Riain, performed the opening ceremony. He declared; ‘A significant march forward has been achieved by Cooley Kickhams and I am privileged on behalf of the Association to pay a well deserved tribute to its officers, members and supporters for their initiative and drive’.
The momentum of the 1960s continued into the 1970s and what a decade it was to be a Cooley player/supporter. The record for that decade is surely the envy of every club in Louth; twenty three major final appearances winning five Joe Wards, five league titles, three Old Gaels cups, an under 21 title and two minor titles. They also contested two Leinster club finals.
The achievements of the 1970s proved a hard act to follow. A 1984 centenary year minor title, an under 21 title, several junior triumphs, and a number of senior league finals were contested but by the end of the decade Cooley were once again the kingpins of football in Louth winning Joe Wards in 1989 and 1990. The club also celebrated their centenary in 1987 with numerous celebrations and the launching of their club history, “Cooley Kickhams 1887-1987”. The emergence of the Cooley ladies as strong contenders throughout the decade finally resulted in an All Ireland Junior title, a remarkable achievement.
A bright future was envisaged but it was not to be. Events of the field were to prove a major stumbling block to club progress and they struggled throughout the1990s but success did come at junior and underage level. Throughout the new Millennium the various club teams provided us with some memorable performances winning numerous senior leagues and Paddy Sheelan subsidiary leagues, a number of junior and underage championships, ladies competitions and a Louth Camogie championship. What eluded us was a Joe Ward success and boy did we try! Hopefully there are plenty of good days ahead and the recent success of formidable minor squads augurs well for the future. The lack of Joe Ward success has cast a shadow over the club. But Cooley you have a record to be proud of and having traded at Intermediate level for the past number of years it is now time to regain your senior status, believe in your footballing ability and bring the good times back to our Club.
Cooley Kickhams GFC Official Opening of Fr. McEvoy Park Programme 13th July 1969