Mick's father John was a native of Ballynageeragh, Dunhill, Co. Waterford. The Foley family were originally from Ardmore. John was a journeyman stonemason and he travelled around the countryside building cow byres and stables. While carrying out work at Cunningham's farm at Boulatin he fell in love with the daughter of the house, Mary.
In 1876 they married in Kilrossanty. They lived on a farm at Killoteran, Butlerstown, by the River Suir. John used to obtain branches from ash trees at Mount Congreve Estate to make hurleys for his sons.
They became enthusiastic supporters of the Gaelic Athletic Association when it was founded in 1884.
John started a hurling team in Butlerstown, but this had to be disbanded because the authorities feared it was a meeting place for fenianism.
One of his sons, Mick, was an apprentice carpenter to his cousin, John Costin, in Waterford - 'In the evening when finished work he would hear 'the clash of the ash' across the River Suir at Luffany, Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny. With his desire to play hurling Mick slipped into Mount Congreve Wood and spoke shaved a hurley. With the hurley strapped to his back and a pair of plimsolls on his feet he swam across the River Suir to participate in the hurling game and had to swim back to the Waterford side in the dark of the night.'
In 1915 Mick Foley married Mary O'Brien of Lisnakill, Butlerstown, and they purchased a farm at Knockrower, Stradbally. They tried to start a hurling team in Stradbally but Gaelic football was the preferred game in the area.