In 1930 Shannon trained in Johnny Cusack's high field on the Corbally Road. The field was between Cooney's garage and Van Esbeck's house. It was six feet above road level and, when it was levelled in 1931 to make up the road to the new bridge, we then moved between the Island Field and Paddy’s hedge where Richmond Park now stands.
In 1934 / 35, our Golden Jubilee year, we had difficulty fielding a team. We met Garryowen in the Munster Junior Cup. We played three matches and they finally beat us by a penalty goal in the third match. We had only 16 or 17 players for the three matches. I know four or five of their players were from the "parish". The penalty goal that beat us in the third match was kicked by that great Kerry footballer, Johnny Walsh. It worried us that at half time in the three matches that there were nine or ten ex-Shannon players coaching the Garryowen team. This must have influenced the late Willie Gleeson when composing his famous song 'Roll along Shannon Forwards', part of which goes:
Yippy, yip, 'old timers',
Coaching on the field won't do,
Ye all know from long experience,
How hard it is to beat the Black and Blue.
We had a feeling at that time that we were playing for more than the Junior Cup. We were playing for our very existence.
In 1936 we moved to Egan's field at the bottom of the Mill Road before any houses were built there. Here we had our first pavilion with plenty of running water. The pavilion was a 10ft X 8ft hut, and the running water was the nearby Shannon river. We were luck enough to win our first City Junior Cup in 1936 and the Transfield Cup in 1937/38.
The highlight of those times was the away games to Nenagh and the trip on Flannery's bus. We were put up in the Ormond Hotel in Nenagh which had two bathrooms (no ensuite). We made the most of it, as this was the only bath we had for the year. (no one had bathrooms in houses at that time - we used the great outdoors).
At this time, in the run up to a cup match, we ran on the Island Bank two or three nights a week. You were taking your life in your hands as you might run into a cow or an ass. You never knew which in the dark.
In 1939 we trained in Ballynanty, over the wall from Thomond Park. Also in that year we won the Munster Junior Cup in Cork, beating Cork Constitution.
In 1940 we finally arrived at Thomond Park. We celebrated this move by winning the Munster Junior Cup, the Transfield Cup and the Charity Cup. At the time there was a lot of secrecy surrounding the signing of the lease on Thomond Park. When it finally happened plenty of people had comments to make such as 'Who gave ye permission to go to Thomond Park. It is OUT too far'. Christy Quilligan replied to the second comment: ' It won't be long before people are coming IN to Thomond Park instead of going OUT.
When we arrived at Thomond Park there were two dressing- rooms under the stand, one on each side of the showers. Toilets and the boiler-houses were out the back. The fact that the war was on a this time, meant we had to supply two bags of turf to Jock Morrisson, the grounds-man, for the boiler or we would not have had any hot water for showers after home matches. With all the timber seating and timber partitions this was a time-bomb of ever there was one. There were no health and safety standards then - on or off the pitch. We got permission from the Munster Branch to break a doorway in under an unused part of the stand at the end of one of the dressing-rooms. We levelled the clay and drove a few nails into the walls to hang up our clothes. This continued to be used, more or less, until the present pavilion was opened in 1967.
After an AGM of that year was held in the City Court House the late Christy Quilligan and I were asked to go to the bank to get a loan of £15 to start up the season. We were seated at the end of a long table. The bank manager sat at the other end tapping his pencil on the table examining our file.
'What do ye want £15 for?' he said after a while.
'We want a set of jerseys for £7.10s' says Christy.
'Ye had a set of jerseys two years ago' the bank manager replied.
'What happened to them?'
'John Joe Cleary’s mother is nearly blind from stitching pieces together.
'As a matter of fact she had run out of pieces'.
'What else do ye want?' he asked.
'We need a ball for £1'
'But ye had a ball last year'.
'When the ball is kicked into the hawthorn bushes it gets punctured and the Match has to be abandoned'.
'What else do ye want'? he said.
'We want £5 for the rent of the field.'
'Ye're not thinking of buying it are ye?
What do ye want the other £1.10s for?’
' we want to buy a first aid box and a few other things'.
'Are ye thinking of killing someone ? ' he asked.
After much humming and hawing he decided that he would give us the £15 for the club. We got up to make for the door when he called us back.
' Hold on ' he said. ' We are not finished yet. Ye can't spend one penny until ye get two guarantors to sign for this money'. We got the two - the late John O'Connor (butcher) and the late Frank Keane (baker).
The club has gone from strength to strength since those days and the move to Thomond park has proved an astute decision, but those days before Thomond Park will always be remembered with great fondness.