Byrne, Martin Kevin (Kevin)
Date of Birth: 19th January 1945
Place of Birth: Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow
Date Interviewed: 29th October 2008
Summary: Kevin Byrne’s story is focussed on the development of soccer in Wexford at a time when there was great hostility against the sport. Kevin grew up in Co. Wicklow. Times were tough with no work and no social welfare so his father, like many others, had to seek work abroad. Kevin remembers those as sad times as he only saw his father about twice a year. When Kevin moved to Wexford he played hurling for the Faythe Harriers, a club based in the south of Wexford town. Kevin was approached by friends and asked to help set up a soccer club. A meeting was held in Kevin’s house in August 1964 and Wexford United was formed. Because of the GAA ban on playing soccer there was tremendous hostility towards the club. They had great difficulty procuring a playing pitch, local shops would not supply them with shirts and they had to go to Dublin for these and at one point a customer of Kevin’s employer demanded that Kevin be fired because of his promotion of this “foreign sport”! Fortunately the support of some members of the clergy helped ease the situation. Wexford United developed into a very successful club until an ultimatum from a Leinster soccer authority led to the members deciding at a general meeting to disband the club.