Fitzgerald, Richard (‘Dick’, ‘Dickeen’) (1884–1930), Gaelic footballer and revolutionary, was born in College St., Killarney, Co. Kerry, and educated at Killarney national school and at secondary schools in Limerick and Cork. He began his Gaelic football career with the Nils club in Cork city before returning to Killarney to play for Dr Croke's. He won the first of his five all-Ireland senior football championship medals with Kerry in the 1903 championship (played in 1905), Kerry's first ever all-Ireland football final victory, after an epic three-match encounter with Kildare which raised the profile of Gaelic football considerably throughout the country. The first game was abandoned after a pitch invasion when the referee deemed that the Kildare goalkeeper, Jack Fitzgerald, had carried the ball over the goal-line when attempting to clear a free taken by Dick Fitzgerald. The replay resulted in a draw (Kerry 0–7, Kildare 1–4), and Kerry finally triumphed in the third game by 0–8 to 0–2 with Dick Fitzgerald the star of the game. He won four more all-Ireland championships with Kerry (1904, 1909, 1913, 1914), captaining the side on the latter two occasions; was on the losing side in the all-Ireland finals of 1905, 1908, and 1915 (as captain); and was due to have played in the 1910 final but, because of a dispute between Kerry and the Great Southern Railway, Kerry refused to travel and Louth were awarded a walkover. Playing at centre-half forward, though also capable of playing in other forward positions, he was one of the earliest stars of Gaelic football. Considered the best player of his generation, he was an exceptionally talented and accurate scorer, a good distributor of the ball to create scoring opportunities for other players, and possessed of a wide range of skills including difficult overhead kicking. However, he has not figured on any teams of the century or millennium, because he played so long ago that no film footage and very little memory of him exists. In 1914 he published a book entitled How to play Gaelic football, in which he portrayed football as ‘a scientific game’ (p. 13). It included detailed descriptions of every position and the duties attached to them, photographs illustrating the principal skills, discussions on the roles of team captain and referee, and a fascinating account of how to play with thirteen-a-side teams, which he thought might happen in the future. The book also espouses his preference for attacking rather than defensive football and his fear of professionalism creeping into the game, which led him to condemn special training for teams.
He joined the Irish Volunteers in Killarney and was elected second lieutenant of the MacNeillite wing after the split in 1914. In 1916 he was arrested after the Easter rising and interned in Frongoch, where he organised Gaelic football matches. Released on 2 August 1916, he was rearrested on 22 September and returned to Frongoch. In 1918–19 he was an active organiser for Sinn Féin in the Kerry East constituency. A supporter of the Anglo–Irish treaty (not a popular action for a sporting hero in a predominantly republican county), he served as a Cumann na nGaedheal member of Killarney urban district council (east ward) from June 1925 till his death. He remained active in GAA circles throughout the 1920s as a member of Kerry county board, vice-chairman of the county selection committee, and a representative on the Munster and central councils. In 1925 he was involved in a controversial incident in the all-Ireland football semi-final between Cavan and Kerry; Kerry won by one point after Fitzgerald, acting as umpire, signalled a point for Kerry which the Cavan players believed to be wide. Both teams were subsequently ejected from the competition.
Dick Fitzgerald died 26 September 1930 after a fall from a roof in Killarney. An inquest jury found that he died ‘from shock and haemorrhage due to internal injuries to abdomen and chest by a fall from some height’ (Kerryman, 4 Oct. 1930), and witnesses stated that he was about to come down when he slipped and fell. Two days after his death Kerry reluctantly contested the all-Ireland football final, which they won, and which was preceded by a mass for Dick Fitzgerald in Gardiner St. church and the playing of Chopin's ‘Funeral march’ by the Artane Boys’ Band at the game. In 1935 the new Gaelic stadium in Killarney was named Fitzgerald Stadium in his honour. He was predeceased by his wife, a sister of his former team-mate Paddy Dillon.