“Admittedly the weather was excellent, but I would ask you to envisage a court situated right in the middle of a Welsh village, with a local pub literally on the left hand side of the court and a row of terraced houses on the right, and the main road and shops behind. On Finals day you could mingle with the local spectators, Alistair McKenzie and David Barnes of Rugby Fives, Sean McEntee, the Irish handball President and Paul Williams the organiser of One Wall Handball in New York City (with more than 2,000 courts).”
“We saw the soul of handball in Wales this May. This year the court there became the centre of village life. The Irish game of One Wall Handball was gloriously resurrected in a weekend favoured by ideal weather conditions. We saw the game as it was originally devised, a street game, a game of the people...”
The court was proving its worth. It now has to be brought back to its
best condition for future games. . .and fear not, there will be future games.
The Nelson court can be used for the three wall game and is ideal for the one wall game, which many believe is a way of providing fair playing rules for true international handball. It was the original Irish game and New York, thanks to one Charles J. O’Connell has over 2,000 courts.
The history of the game is fascinating., with new theories begging major rewriting of the history. The One Wall game has been played in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas for almost 5,000 years. The state now has over 400 courts. Was this before the game was played in Ireland? In the town of Franeker in the traditional Friesland Handball area in Holland they have two one wall courts in an indoor air conditioned complex built recently.
In 1995 Malvern College travelled to Ireland, to Bray, Dungarvan, Cavan and Ballaghadareen to play the one wall game to gain valuable experience.
In 1996 Belgium hosted the second One Wall European Games.
In 1997 the one wall game will be included in the World Championships in Canada.
In the 1950s in Ballymena Academy (County Antrim) George Burton, the maths teacher, remembers one Ken Paisley, nephew of Ian, now the local M.P., as being a very good handball player in the school where the game was very popular.
In all this the one wall game is proving a vital link in forging an international future for handball.
For more information read:
Jones, H. J. - Nelson Handball Court, History of the Court and its Players 1860 - 1940.
With thanks to Tom O’Connor, Chairman One Wall Handball Association for information and support and to the staff at Nelson Library.
©: Joe Moore, Cardiff, Treasurer, Wales Famine Forum, Cardiff, Wales.
Another article by Joe Moore.
Published in The Green Dragon No 1, December, 1996.