Tom Kiely Memorial

A Monument Dedicated to 'The Champ Kiely'

In Ballyneill Village there is a monument and an interpretive panel dedicated to Tom Kiely aka ‘the Champ Kiely’ (1869-1951). He was a native of the area and a noted athlete in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He had numerous world records and titles, but his crowning achievement was winning a gold medal at the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis. Kiely completed in the All-Round event, the forerunner of the modern decathlon, All ten events took place in the same day. Kiely travelled independently and according to local tradition declared himself a representative of Tipperary and Ireland rather than competing under the UK flag.

He could be considered Ireland’s first Olympic medalist. He became a nationalist hero in pre-Independence Ireland. He later served a term as Vice-President of the GAA. Close by is the site of the first Gaelic Football match played following the foundation of the GAA in November 1884, which is marked by a small plaque.

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