The Gallant John Joe by George Cartwright

The Gallant John Joe by George Cartwright are delighted to feature this excellent new book by George Cartwright on the incredible John Joe O’Reilly.

The legendary John Joe O’Reilly was one of the first great GAA national icons. He was the talisman and captain during Cavan’s golden era between the 1930s and 1950s. 

John Joe is the only man to lead a team to All Ireland glory outside of Ireland – when he led the Breffni men against Kerry in the 1947 final played at the Polo Grounds in New York – and he also captained Cavan to another All-Ireland in Croke Park the following year.

Renowned in song and story, John Joe is widely regarded as the greatest Cavan man of all time.  His teammate Mick Higgins put it simply but best when he said: “I looked up to him and so did everybody else.”

George Cartwright’s newly-published biography leaves no stone unturned in meticulously uncovering the life and times of ‘The Gallant John Joe’.

The 288-page tome traces his growth from school boy to senior player, while also documenting his rise through the Army ranks before the tragedy of his untimely passing.

Cartwright interviewed scores of O’Reilly’s contemporaries so that he could accurately detail the fascinating achievements packed into his all too short life – he died in 1952 aged 34.

Inside and back cover of the book

“Writing a book about John Joe was a labour of love for me,” said the author. “I grew up listening to people talking about his exploits on the field and it was an honour to talk to those closest to him in the compiling of this biography.”

The book is published in hardback by Ballpoint Press. “There are few people in the history of the GAA who towered over their sport in the manner that John Joe did,” said publisher PJ Cunningham.

It is a book painstakingly put together by a man whose own heart beats deep inside Cornafean, Cavan and the GAA. The result is a thorough account of John Joe’s importance both as a player and leader to his county at that time of unprecedented glory.

As the song about O’Reilly says: “Young players may come and old players may go, but there’ll ever be another like the gallant John Joe.”

The book is available from November  in Ireland and can be ordered from

It will also be available on Kindle shortly for those who want to buy it on line.

The Gallant John Joe, by George Cartwright and published by Ballpoint Press, is released in hardback and retails at €19.99.

Come Back to Cornafean

Come back to Cornafean was published in 2013 by the ‘Cornafean Gathering Committee,’ under the chairmanship of Paddy McDermott and edited by George & Lorraine Cartwright. It was produced principally to mark the ‘Come Back to Cornafean Week’ in conjunction with the gathering Ireland 2013. The book contains a number of articles by local people and by others with Cornafean connections. It covers much of the musical and cultural tradition of the area especially the Cornafean Marching Band, Scór and the Cornafean Céilí Group. It is laced with great photographs of individuals and groups some whom are no longer with us.