The late Mrs Catherine Drennan recalled that girls from Gowran, Paulstown, Bonnetstown and Thomastown played camogie in Gowran in the early 1900’s. Their first match was played in April 1908. The club was known as “Gowran Combined” and the colours were blue and white.
The Kilkenny Junior Champions of 1933 had Gowran ladies on the panel – Brigid Hayden (sister of Pat “Diamond” Hayden) andMuriel Hennessy, Paulstown.
From newspaper reports we learn that a camogie club was reformed in Gowran in 1948 with the following officers being elected : Chairperson: Mrs Drennan, Vice-Chairperson: Maureen O’Neill, Secretary: Kathleen Dowling, Treasurer: Brigid Cass.
Gowran qualified to meet Mullinavat in the County Junior Final that year but the final was never played.
The following year, 1949, Mr Jas Lennon was appointed Chairman and also team trainer. Secretary was Anna Brennan. Other committee members of the time were Rita Walsh, Eva O’Donnell, Mrs Stephen O’Shea, Bessy Dennieffe, May Shortall, Bessy Lawlor, Mary Martin, Molly Cahill, Teresa Byrne, Breda Quirke, Breda Jordan, Molly Jordan, Nelly Kelsey and Sheila O’Donnell (Team captain in 1949). Training sessions were held in a field kindly given by Mrs O’Neill of Clashwilliam.
Camogie faded in Gowran in the early 1950’s due to lack of organisation and support. However in the 1960’s it became popular again. Many girls from the Gowran area played camogie with the Brigidine Convent Secondary School Team in Goresbridge. Camogie was not allowed to be played in the National School in Gowran at the time.
In 1966 a new club was formed in Gowran and called St Mary’s. A team was entered in the Junior Championship and duly went on to reach the County Final where they were beaten by Castlecomer 2 –1 to 2 – 0. In 1967 they again qualified for the final but were beaten by a better St Paul ’s team. Training sessions were held in a field in Rockfield. Jimmy Walsh R.I.P. Upper Main Street , was a very active member of the Club and gave great service in the early days of the organisation. he held the position of Chairman for a number of years and was also involved in the training of the Kilkenny Senior Camogie team, looking after the physical end of training. He was Chairman of Kilkenny County Camogie Board in 1971.
St. Mary’s won two Junior County Championships with Beatrice Treacy as trainer. In 1970 they beat The Rower 9 – 9 to 1- 0. While in 1973 they accounted for James Stephens in the final on a scoreline of 5 – 3 to 2 – 6. The club at this time had come under the auspices of Young Ireland’s GAA Club and under the name Young Ireland’s they reached the 1975 Senior County Final where they were beaten by St Paul ’s. The Hurling Club played a big part in those achievements both in its financial support and providing a playing pitch and dressing rooms.
Gowran Camogie Club had the honour of providing players for the Kilkenny senior team in 1968 when Kilkenny became the first team to beat Dublin in the Leinster Final for many years. In 1970 Kilkenny won their first Leinster title and representing Gowran on that team were Mary Kennedy, Peggy Carey and Helen Drennan. They went on to reach the All Ireland Final but were beaten by Cork on the occasion. Peggy and Mary were also on the Kilkenny team to reach the 1972 final and the 1974 team who made history by bringing the first All Ireland title to Kilkenny. They remained on the panel for a number of years.
Peggy Carey went on to win 4 All Ireland medals, 2 Leinster medals and one National League Provincial medal. Mary Kennedy has 3 All Ireland medals, 2 Leinster medals and was also named Camogie Player of the year 1979.
Other club members of the time to play on Kilkenny teams were Betty Kennedy, Ann Dreeling, Catherine Kennedy, Joan Kennedy, Carmel Drennan, Anna Cody and Nora Cody.
Beatrice Treacy was a selector with the 1974 All Ireland team and she also served as Secretary of the County Camogie Board from 1972 to 1976 and Chairperson in 1977. She acted as the Board’s delegate to Leinster Council for three years, was Vice Chairperson of Leinster Council and Secretary for one year. In her younger days Beatrice played camogie with Brigidine Convent, Goresbridge and St Luke’s Cuffesgrange.
Other members of the County Board in the 1970’s were Mary Kennedy, Tommy Murphy, Peggy Carey, Jim Fitzharris and Jim Fitzgerald.
Jimmy Walsh, Tommy Murphy and Mary Kennedy served as Chairpersons of the club during this time. Peggy Carey was secretary. Treasurers included Liz Kennedy, Nora Drennan, Noirin Connolly, Carmel Drennan and Joan Kennedy.
The Club disbanded in the early 1980’s.
In 1994 a group of girls came together to reform Young Ireland ’s Camogie Club. Some of the girls would have played as juveniles with the old club in the 1970’s .
In the following year 1995, the club won the Junior Championship beating Lisdowney on a scoreline of 3 – 7 to 1 – 4 and were promoted to the Intermediate grade.