Celtic Supporters Club Histories: Manhattan No1 CSC (Book Preview)

Last month we revealed that a new book, which aims to chart the history of every Celtic supporters club in the world, was in the process of being written. The ambitious project, undertaken by the fan behind the famous Celtic Bars website, is progressing fantastically as over 325 CSC’s have now been in touch with the author to ensure their story is recorded.

You can read more about the project by clicking HERE

To give readers an insight into the type of content that is set to be included in the publication, Davy (the author) has kindly provided the following short preview:

Manhattan No1 CSC – New York Fenian Bhoys

The Manhattan No.1 New York Fenian Bhoys CSC welcome visitors to the club’s home at Jack Demsey’s – 36 W 33rd St, New York, NY 10001. It is the place to watch the Hoops, free of charge.

The club was founded in July 1998 over a few drinks in the back room of the old Rocky Sullivan’s Bar on Lexington Avenue in New York. Present at that first meeting were, Tony Quinn, Des Brownlie, and Kevin Browne. The current President is Robert Parker and members hail from near and far. In the aftermath of Celtic’s League Championship win in 1998, Tony Quinn and this band of rebel Celts decided that they needed somewhere to go, to not only watch the ‘Tic play live, but also to be able to have a few post game drinks and sing the songs.

Up until this time they had watched the games with the New York CSC, but problems had arisen over time with post-match celebrations, more specifically the songs they were singing after the games. Certain members of the NYCSC felt some songs were somewhat ‘radical’. Coupled with this was the problem that the home of the NYCSC, Boomer’s, was an American sports bar and post-match celebrations were often cut short by baseball, basketball, and ice hockey fans coming in to watch their respective teams.

To continue the celebrations they had often gone to Rocky Sullivan’s where they had acquired some space on the jukebox for some CD’s of our type of music, and a sing-song was positively encouraged! The day we won the league in 1998, they left Boomer’s after the game never to return. Upon arriving in Rocky’s they were handed bottles of champagne, provided by the bar, most of this ending up on themselves, the walls and the ceiling; the party went on all night.

They talked among themselves about the possibility of setting up their own club, and Rocky’s seemed like the natural choice. They had decided at the first meeting, that the name of the club would be the New York Fenian Bhoys CSC. The reason for this title? The American branch of The Fenian Brotherhood had been formed near Rocky’s in 1858, and were devoted to raising money, arms, and soldiers for a future rebellion in Ireland. Also, in New York in the 1850’s new Irish immigrants found they had a lot in common with other immigrants and working class Americans.

The forming of the new club drew curiosity from some in New York and resulted in the three original Fenian Bhoys going on Radio Free Eireann, a weekly show here in New York broadcasting to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – a potential audience of tens of millions. Their stall had now been set out and everyone knew from the beginning what type of club this was to be. After discussions with the NAFCSC over the name it was decided that it would be called the Manhattan No.1 CSC – The New York Fenian Bhoys.

During the early weeks, big Tam Donnelly in Canada gave loads of advice about starting the club, and Billy Ramsey from the Boston No.1 CSC was always encouraging. With the name in place all that was needed was the little matter of $5,000 to put up a satellite dish and receiver. Their saviour came in the shape of Chris Byrne, a.k.a. Seanchai, a partner in Rocky’s and a Celtic supporter, who told us to go ahead and get the dish up to get the games. Chris was also the first person to pay his membership in the club. Suffice to say without this Celtic hip-hop artist, the club would probably not exist today. Then one evening an American couple just back from honeymoon stopped in for a drink, the husband Dan O’Toole became interested in the club and made several generous donations to keep them afloat.

The founding members brought in a few bits and pieces of memorabilia and put them up on the walls and got ready for the new season. The three of them had decided that whatever the cost of the games, they would split it between them and sit on their own if need be to watch Celtic live. However as the new season opened, others joined the ranks of the club. Tommy McKeown was drafted in at the beginning from Kearney, New Jersey to lead the choir in song and bring in the pies for half time. The Logan boys began to make the trip up from Southern New Jersey, and Pat Sweeney crossed the Hudson from the Kearney CSC. Brian McCarthy, Brian Dempsey, Willie Holmes, Gerry Sullivan and others who had watched the games in Boomers moved to Rocky’s.

During that first season, there were times when it was indeed just three or four of them sitting in Rocky’s for games, but as word spread the number of regulars grew. Radio Free Eireann kept plugging the club and called live on the air on Saturdays for match reports, often closing the show with us all singing over the telephone, a live broadcast to millions in the greater New York metropolitan area. Their first big game was the 5-1 demolition of Rangers, and the place was bouncing. The party went on and on, strangers who had never been to watch a game were in awe as we sang and danced the day away. After this there was no looking back.

Over the years the club has continued to grow and has found a new home in Jack Demsey’s, and today they continue to welcome supporters from all over the world. They’ve seen members, good friends and Celtic family come and go, but the club’s endured and it’s still the same rebel enterprise it was in 1998…

If you would like to have your CSCs story documented, please contact Davy by sending a direct message to the @celticbars twitter page, or via email – celticbars@icloud.com.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

1 Comment

  1. Been there more than once to watch the hoops over the years on my visits to New York. Best place to watch the game and stay on and sing songs of terrible wrongs. Keep up the good work guys. Hail Hail JPD