Will Quinn heads from Dublin to Glasgow, then to Scandinavia with Celtic

Charlie and the Bhoys: A step back in time with two unsung Celtic heroes

Part 3: Will Quinn heads from Dublin to Glasgow…then to Scandinavia with Celtic

Just over a year after the tragic death of his infant daughter Gertrude and two years after the loss of her mother, his second wife Bertha, to cancer, Will took the plunge again. On 7 August 1904, he married Anastatia (Annie) McAvoy in Kilkenny, Ireland. Will would have been 29 at that time. I believe Annie may also have been born there around October 1875, so she would have been only a few months younger than her new husband. In a strange twist of fate, Annie had been one of the witnesses at Will and Bertha’s wedding back in February 1898 and was a friend and work colleague of his sister, Mary Jane. This would turn out to be Will’s third and final marriage and would last for more than three decades.

Will and Annie Quinn would have five children together, the first two of those at their home in Fleming Street, Riccarton, a stone’s throw from Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park. John Quinn was born on 20 July 1905, and he was followed by a daughter, Anastatia Grace Quinn, on 22 October 1907.

Between those births, Will endured further heartbreak with the loss of both parents. His mother Rosina Quinn died at her home at 89 South Harbour Street, Ayr overnight on 9/10 March 1906 of natural causes, aged 59. This would place her date of birth as c1846. She is listed as being married to Michael Quinn, Hotel Porter and the death is registered by her son William Quinn, of 17 Fleming Street, Riccarton.

Will’s father Michael Quinn passed away at 33 Carrick Street, Ayr on 7 January 1907, aged 77. This would place his date of birth as c1829. Michael’s profession is listed as Private 21st Foot (Army Pensioner) and he is described as the widower of Rosina Vance. Michael’s cause of death is given as carcinoma of face and the death is registered by his son Joseph Quinn. No separate address is given for Joseph, suggesting that he also lived at Carrick Street.

Sometime after Anastatia Grace’s birth in October 1907, the Quinn family moved to Dublin, as they are listed there in the Census taken on 2 April 1911, as Celtic once again prepared for a Scottish Cup final at Ibrox, this time against Hamilton Academical. The 1911 Census of Ireland shows William (36, a Joiner, born in Scotland) and Anastatia Quinn (35, born in Kilkenny) living at 3 Beach Road, Pembroke East, South Dublin with their combined five children; William Quinn junior (18, a Caretaker, born in Scotland), Margaret Quinn (16, born in Scotland), Stephen Quinn (12, born in Scotland), John Quinn (5, born in Scotland) and Anastatia Quinn junior (3, born in Scotland).

Photo of Will with two younger men, which was taken in Dublin

Will and his family would then return to Scotland, as in October 1911, at the age of 36, he commenced a job with Celtic, whom he would serve as Trainer then Groundsman from then until his death in 1939. Robert ‘Bob’ Davis, a noted sprinter from Drymen, Stirlingshire, had been the trainer at Celtic Park from 1901 until 1911, covering that wonderful period when the team won six successive League titles. Bob would join Manchester United in the same role in July 1914, following a recommendation from none other than Willie Maley.

Bob Davis pictured with the Celtic ‘Team of all the talents’ 1907/08
Bob Davis (second left between Davie Adams and Jimmy Quinn) on tour with Celtic

Celtic would enjoy double success in Will’s first season at the club, the Hoops winning both the Scottish and Glasgow Charity Cups in the spring of 1912 with their new attacking sensation Patsy Gallacher to the fore. On both occasions, the final opposition was East End neighbours Clyde, managed by Willie Maley’s younger brother Alex.

Young Patsy Gallacher scores against Clyde at Ibrox in the Scottish Cup final of 1912

The last home game of that campaign had been a friendly with English giants Aston Villa in late April, a 1-1 draw which produced some of my favourite early images of Celtic Park, collated and captured in the wonderful Celtic Wiki.

A successful season was then rounded off for Celtic with a short tour of Denmark and Norway in June, with games in the capital cities of Copenhagen and Christiania, later renamed as Oslo. Will’s first overseas trip as a Celt would not be via luxury liner, though. The Celtic Wiki records that the SS Zara which carried the Scottish Cup-holders from Hull to Copenhagen was ‘more of a cargo than passenger ship!’

SS Zara

Accompanying the Celtic party was a Scottish reporter, who allegedly went by the alias ‘The Man in the Know.’ His first report, from The Scottish Referee of 7 June 1912 and reproduced in The Celtic Wiki, was filed after the first two matches had been completed in Copenhagen, a 3-1 win over B93 Copenhagen followed by a 4-1 defeat by ‘an international side’, thought to be the Danish Olympic team. The report mentions a country not quite in mourning despite the death of King Frederick VIII in Hamburg just weeks earlier and showed that the crossing had not been a particularly pleasant one but included an interesting historical reference.

“Our trip up to this has been a very pleasant one, despite a bit of sickness among a few of the men crossing the dreaded North Sea, where we saw our own fleet and the German fleet each playing their own little game. We also touched on the famous Dogger Bank, and Captain French, of the good ship Zara told us the tale over again till it took us all our time to restrain Sunny Jim from leading an attack on St Petersburg, which he thinks is just over the way from here.”

The reference to Dogger Bank relates to an incident which took place there in October 1904, so eight years earlier, where the Russian Navy opened fire on British fishing trawlers, having mistaken them for Japanese torpedo boats during the Russo-Japanese War. Two British fishermen were killed, leading to the threat of war between the United Kingdom and Russia.

It was on that ship SS Zara that I believe the first photo of Will as a Celt may have been taken. It also features James Kelly, Patsy Gallacher, Jimmy Quinn plus Willie Maley wearing a rather natty beret – or ‘bunnet’ – so it’s pretty special. Charlie Doherty had provided another photo of Maley and some of the Celtic stars of the period where the manager is sporting the same headgear, so that may also be from that Scandinavian trip.

Celtic on the SS Zara

Maley’s Celts would play five matches on that tour, with the latter three in Norway. A 9-0 win in Drammen was sandwiched between two victories over the Norwegian Olympic team in Christiania, the first of those taking place on 7 June 1912, a public holiday celebrating the seventh anniversary of Norway’s independence from Sweden. Those games against the Olympic side would produce another striking image, as the Hoops lined up in the goalmouth, Celtic goalkeeper John Mulrooney wearing a white knitted jumper covered in shamrocks, apparently given to Jimmy Quinn by a supporter.

Celtic line up against the Norwegian Olympic team in Christiania, June 1912
Norwegian Olympic team ahead of the c lash with Celtic, June 1912.

Insert photos of Will Quinn and Celtic team on tour.

And then it was time to head back to Scotland to rest ahead of the coming season.

To be continued…

Hail, hail!

Matt Corr

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About Author

Having retired from his day job Matt Corr can usually be found working as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park, or if there is a Marathon on anywhere in the world from as far away as Tokyo or New York, Matt will be running for the Celtic Foundation. On a European away-day, he's there writing his Diary for The Celtic Star and he's currently completing his first Celtic book with another two planned.


  1. I assume Matt that you researched part of my family tree for my great grandpa Will Quinn. Is this correct or did you use an alternative source? Thank you for some of the photos which I have not seen before.

    • Hi Anne Marie. you’re very welcome. I did indeed. I have been working on it for some time now and after the story is concluded, I will be passing all my family information to my friend Charlie, who is also a great grandchild. That will include information which I have not published. What is your ‘branch’ of the family tree which links back to Will as I may have content which will be of interest to you?