The game of Caid was played in the parish of Castlegregory long before, and even after, the foundation of the GAA in Thurles in 1884. Caid itself seems to have been a combination of rough and tumble football and cross country running - the contestants being teams from neighbouring parishes.
One such game took place between Castle and Cloghane in 1886 at Dowling's Big Field in Stradbally with both sides claiming victory. A replay finally took place 2 years later with Cloghane winning. A local balladeer recalled the game in a song called "The Kickers of Lios na Caol Bhuidhe" which contains the immortal line:
" ..they'd kick all before them from here to Tralee"
Another line recounts events when the game became a little too robust:
"The referee, with his whistle, was up on top a tree"
The first official GAA club of the parish was known as Castlegregory Allen - in memory of William Allen, one of the Manchester Martyrs Allen, Larkin and O'Brien. The club took part in the first Kerry County Championship played in 1889 in which they met a team called Ó Breannan. After two draws, the second replay was played in Castle on 10th April, but the game was abandoned after O'Breannan refused to continue when Castle scored a disputed goal. However, as you would, both teams retired to a local hostelry and had a night of singing and dancing.
The first recorded meeting of the club took place in October 1889 and Mr Thomas Moore was elected president and the officers elected with him were Silvester Egan, Hugh O'Flaherty. Michael Kelliher, John Fitzgerald, Eugene Foran and Michael O'Sullivan. John Foran and Thomas McCarthy were elected captain and vice captain respectively. Tom O'Flaherty from Fahamore soon became Honorary Secretary of the Kerry County Board and not long after Castle became a proper affiliated club.
In 1901 Castle played Tralee Mitchels in the county championship and a report in the Kerry Sentinel described the Castle approach thus "The Castlegregory men, from their style of play, did not exhibit a very close acquaintance with the rules of the game, which necessitated explanation by the referee who stopped the match a few times for this purpose." However by 1905 in a game between Castle and Dingle (refereed by Austin Stack) the same paper reported:
"I have never before witnessed either Castlegregory or Dingle participate in football but if they have always given an exhibition anything approaching that on Sunday in Tralee Sportsfield it seems to me rather curious that at least one of the 34 (sic) was not selected for the county"
In these early years Castle had little success and were usually knocked out in the early rounds of the championship. For a while the club became more or less dormant. However the club reappeared in 1912 and 3 players J Kennedy, P O'Donnell and J Courtney played for the Kerry team that beat Carlow in the All Ireland Junior final played in the summer of 1913.
The period between 1914 -1924 was a very difficult time for Gaelic games and, even after that, Castle went through a very barren time. Finally in 1942 Castle made the breakthrough by winning the Intermediate County Championship, beating Kenmare on a scoreline of 3-08 to 2-02. Among the many stars on that great team were Sean Egan, John Bowler and the indomitable James "Fox" Kennedy.
1947 proved to be a milestone year. Castle again won the Intermediate Championship but more significantly, they finally acquired a permanent home when the present pitch was purchased from the Irish Land Commission.
Despite this intermittent success at county level, during the '40s, '50s and into the '60s the Castlegregory Parish League was fought for and won with ferocious determination and tenacity by teams from all over the parish. Apart from the village itself, practically every townland in the area had a football team. Some of the best of these came from Cloghane, Ballyduff, Stradbally, Camp and 3 in a row winners Aughacasla.
From 1956 Castle played with West Kerry in the Senior Championship and were unlucky to lose two County finals in 1960 and 1967.But it was in the West Kerry League and Championship that Castle had most success winning the League in '58, '61, '70 and the Championship in '66 and '73. Our minors also had great success in West Kerry winning the Champioship in '58, '59, '60, '65, '73, '74 and adding a county title in 1968.
After their victory in the West Kerry Championship of '73 the great Castle team of the 70's won the Junior title in 1974 and followed up the next year by winning the Intermediate title beating a very strong Tarbert side in the final. This was an outstanding Castle team and many believe they were unlucky not to win a Senior title. Some of the great players to play on this side were Michael O'Donnell, Mossy Spillane, Thomas Egan, Kevin Maunsell, John Courtney and Jimmy O'Connor.
After many years knocking on the door West Kerry finally got their reward when they won back to back Senior county titles in '84 and '85. Two of the heroes of these great victories ware Castle's Kevin Maunsell and John Healy. The club itself went through a very lean period but with the arrival of Joe Wrenn as chairman a policy of under age development was adopted.
As a result, the club had tremendous success at underage in the '90s winning many titles in both county and West Kerry including 3 minor county titles in '93, '95 and '96. By 2000 Castle were playing in division 2 of the county league for the first time having won div. 4 in '97 and div. 3 in '99. In 2002 Castle won the West Kerry League, beating Dingle in the final, and were unlucky to be beaten in the Junior County Final by Finuge who went onto win the All Ireland Junior Club Championship. The present team has been one of our most successful and five of that team have worn the county colours - Sean O'Mahony, David Heasman, Alan Lynch, Micheal O'Shea and Alan McNamara.
For well over 40 years football in castle was played on a surface with a gradient of more than 21 feet from top to bottom. Everyone spoke about the "awful hill" and it was often said that playing up the hill was better than playing down as it was easier to control the ball! But that all changed in 1998 with the establishment of a Field Development Committee to oversee work on the pitch and the football ground in general. Over the next 3 years with the help of local contributions, a generous donation from past players and friends in America, National Lottery money and grants from the Munster Council of the GAA a full sized first class facility has been put in place. The ground was officially opened on 17th May 2003 and is now one of the best (and definitely most scenic) pitches in the county of Kerry.