The original Bohemians: The Bell brothers and Dudley Hussey

dudley hussey

Among the 18 young men who attended the founding meeting of Bohemian Football Club on 6 September 1890, the names of Bell and Hussey stand out.

Dudley Thomas Hussey, then 18, chaired that meeting and had the casting vote on the new club’s name. He, like brothers Hamilton Paul Bell and Samuel Charles Bell and others who attended the meeting, was a student or former student at Bell’s Academy, a civil service training college run by Hamilton J. Bell, uncle of the two younger Bells. Their father, Samuel, was a tutor there, though he later set up his own college.

Bell’s Academy at 46 North Great Georges Street in Dublin city centre was active from 1880 and its students formed a football team in the late 1880s. This was subsequently renamed Richview FC and it provided several of the players and committee members for the Bohemian FC. Samuel C. Bell and Dudley Hussey were also captain and secretary, respectively, of the Bohemians Cricket Club, established at the start of the decade.

Hussey was the first secretary of Bohemian FC, with Hamilton P. on the first committee. Hussey’s home at Annadale Avenue, Fairview, became the correspondence address for Bohemian FC.

In their working lives, Hamilton P. joined the civil service, working in the Prisons Board, later in the Department of Justice, and Samuel C. got his BA degree from the Royal University and was a tutor, eventually Principal, in Bell’s Academy.

The Academy’s founder, Hamilton J. Bell, had been active in the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language from the early 1880s. He was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in May 1884, on account of “A Knowledge of the Irish language and addiction (sic) to Historical and Archaeological as well as Scientific pursuits”. His nephew, Hamilton P., inherited that interest in the Irish language, joining the Gaelic League.

Meanwhile, Dudley Hussey had entered the Department of Agriculture where he was to work for forty years pre- and post-Independence. In 1892 Hussey became the first secretary of the new Leinster Football Association of which the first five clubs were Bohemians, Montpelier, St Helen’s School, Leinster Nomads and Dublin University.


In October 1893 Hussey was elected secretary – yet again – of a non-sporting organisation. This was the newly founded Eclectic Club of which Hamilton P. Bell was record secretary and treasurer and the president was W.B. Yeats. The club hosted debates and talks at meeting rooms in O’Connell Street with sometimes provocative topics.

In October 1893 Hamilton Bell was a speaker for Yes in debates on the question, Were the Irish right in supporting James II?, and Should Railways be a State Monopoly? In November 1893, Bell was in the chair for a debate on the motion, That the character of Cromwell should command admiration; this was voted 12:11 in favour. This rather eccentric involvement in current affairs may indicate that these Bohemian FC stalwarts were also somewhat bohemian in nature.

While working in the Prisons Service at Dublin Castle in 1903 the Bell, now 30, came to the attention of Detective Richard Revell, who had observed him in the company of ‘suspects’. Revell later reported, however, that Bell was keeping himself to himself, teaching Irish classes in Phibsborough on four evenings a week.

After Independence, he worked in the Department of Justice up to his retirement in 1936. He died in 1953, aged 81, and was living at that time in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. His older brother, Samuel C. had died in 1916, when he was a tutor at the Royal University, single, and living in Ballybough.

Hamilton P. had two sons and a daughter; one son, Desmond, was called to the Bar alongside his brother-in-law Vincent Grogan, later Supreme Knight in the Knights of Columbanus. Both were well-known senior counsel, and Desmond Bell stood unsuccessfully as a Fine Gael Dáil candidate in Dublin North-East in 1954 and 1957.

Dudley T. Hussey and his family moved to Rathgar in the 1900s and his sons played rugby for the local Palmerston club, where Dudley junior (Dudley D.) became captain and later president. In turn, Dudley D.’s son, John, was to be a player and officer at St. Mary’s RFC and later a senior figure in the IRFU, serving a term as president. Sports administration was, it seems, a family way of life.

Long after Dudley T. Hussey has ceased to be actively involved in Bohemians the Irish Times marked fifty years of Bohemians referring to the club’s first secretary as still having “the same bright sense of humour as in the days when he first became an honorary official of ‘soccer’”. Dudley T. Hussey died, aged 73, in 1944 but a decade later was recalled in another Irish Times feature for his crucial role with Bohemians; among other contributions he gave the club its long-standing motto, It Can Be Done.

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