Monday, September 20, 2021

Update 20th September

 “The Autumn winds blow chilly and cold’ is a line from a Simon and Garfunkel song ‘April it will come’. There is the touch of the Autumn snap as of now and we face into a problematic time. It has a mixture of hope weariness and reticence. ‘Hope’, the final quality captured in Pandora’s box, is that by April a more positive picture will have emerged. That would be over two years since the pandemic struck. It is two years of different living. Very occasionally I meet a person I have not seen since before it all struck and I can see those two years of age on their faces as I am sure they can in me. For everyone, it has been a tough time but for senior people those two years of restricted living are long lost years (up to a point) which we can ill afford.

Some of that loss can be seen in the Bard’s great poetic view of Autumn

 

Sonnet 73 (‘That time of year thou mayst in me behold’)

William Shakespeare

 

That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou seest the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west,

Which by and by black night doth take away,

Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou seest the glowing of such fire

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the death-bed whereon it must expire,

Consum’d by that which it was nourished by.

   This thou perceiv’st which makes thy love more strong,

   To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

 

Michael D. and another Zappone-gate

Like an eternal circle there comes around these division 3 or 4 news stories that in the status of things are of little or no consequence. Zappone-gate has been on the agenda for … a month perhaps… and as it begins to submerge for the insignificance that it was it is now being replaced by a supposed snub from the President, Michael D. Higgins, for not partaking in an event marking the establishment of the Northern Ireland state. Perhaps the Catholic Church representative was unwittingly bounced into attending but Michael D. took time to analyse it more deeply.

He decided that it would be hypocritical of him to attend an event celebrating the historical division of this island, an event he fundamentally disagreed with.

I agree with him.

People may think that Michael D. is some kind of adult teddy bear but as a former student of this, he has form in standing by his strongly held views which are cogently thought through and not Twitter fed.

I remember, from a good few years ago, hearing Michael D. on a radio debate with a Chicago-American politician on some sensitive issue and ‘wiping the floor with him and his argument’.

Now if Mister Bruton wants to attend I presume that can be facilitated and I imagine it would not be a burden on him.    

 

The death of ‘Greavesie’.

On opening up the online line news on Sunday morning I was saddened when I saw that one of my sporting icons, Jimmy Greaves, had died. With Gerry O’Malley he was my sixties sporting, I suppose, heroes.

The first I saw of soccer football was on the Pathe News and such which were part of attending the ‘pictures’ (later films) in ‘The Blue Moon’ and ‘Royal’ cinemas in Roscommon town. The first game I saw on television was the 1960 European Cup final between Real Madrid V Eintracht Frankfurt. It took place at Hampden Park, Glasgow before an attendance of over 126, 000 people. Real Madrid’s Di Stefano scored three and the great Hungarian Puskás scored four in a 7 to 3 result.

I then became aware of English soccer and the dominant club team of the early sixties was Tottenham Hotspurs with a great team. In my few years in London in the mid-sixties, I started going to odd games in Fulham, Stamford Bridge, Loftus Road and such.

Once when working on a McInerney building site in East London I had a slight accident. I was up on scaffolding, maybe 10 stories high, and jumped in a window from the scaffolding which was no big deal only for…. a board with a nail standing out was attached to the top of the window sill and my head sailed by this but it left its mark and the blood flowed. I went to a nearby hospital and got patched up with a wrap-around bandage. I took the following day off. I was living in Ealing, West London then and decided to use the day to go and see the great Spurs team quite a distance away in North London. A memory from it was being the butt of jokes about my Sikh head-dress from adjacent Spurs supporters.

However, the one vivid memory from that game was a magical goal by Jimmy Greaves. I followed his career nearly always after that. He was a prolific and record goalscorer. He was a shoo-in on England teams up to and during the early games of the 1966 World Cup but perhaps it was because of a slight injury or whatever he was dropped by team manager Alf Ramsey from the World Cup Final England team and replaced by a great West Ham player Geoff Hurst.

There were no substitutions allowed in that era so there was no chance of a cameo appearance. It broke his heart. I was still in London that World Cup sunny summer.

Jimmy continued for a time with Spurs but then incredibly he was moved on to West Ham. He also played for some other clubs as alcohol took its toll. He addressed his alcohol addiction and returned to the limelight as an early television soccer pundit and teamed up with Scot Ian St. John former Liverpool great player. They were not just a soccer pundit team but a very entertaining comic double act.

Jimmy remarried his wife and had a good life but never lost his personality of lovable decency. He got a stroke in 2015. About a month ago I watched a detailed documentary on his life in football on BT Sport and the challenges he overcame.

It is some coincidence that today, Sunday Sept. 19, that Spurs V Chelsea is one of the games being televised on Sky. Jimmy started with Chelsea then went to Italy for a short spell and came back to Spurs with whom he will ever be associated. My old pal John McPherson, a great Spurs and ‘Saint and Greavsie’ supporter, might encounter him in the Utopia of above.

Jimmy Greaves was a special player and I will remember that goal of his always.

P.S. I just remember a little story from that Documentary on BT Sport.

Sky was taking over the ITN channel transmitting ‘The Saint and Greavsie’ and the two men met up to discuss its implications. Jimmy said to Saint John that he was offered a job with Sky and turned it down.

Saint John said to him; ‘Jimmy how could you do that, turn Sky down?’

Jimmy answered; ‘Saint I feel like I’m getting too old to be climbing ladders putting up those bloody dishes’!       

 

Film ‘The Keeper’

Last week I tripped across a film on BBC with the title ‘The Keeper’. I read the little paragraph relaying the content and tuned in. It involved the capture of a German soldier in France by British forces and his transfer to a ‘Prisoner of War’ camp in Lancashire near the war's end and for some time afterwards.  The film showed a traumatic event in the German soldier’s early military life. A grocery supplier to the camp, who was also a team manager for the nearby St. Helen’s Town soccer team, saw this soldier playing football in the camp as a goalkeeper and was impressed. The manager eventually got sanction to bring the soldier out of the camp to play with his team. That had its difficulties in trying to overcome the prejudice of having a German, a recent enemy, playing for them. However, he was so good that the small club overcame that and soon his reputation spread and the Manchester City manager arrived to look him over. He too was impressed and brought him to Manchester City. Again prejudice and resentment followed at an even higher degree. Again his ability subdued the resistance. He played in the Cup final for Manchester City in 1955 v Newcastle then a powerhouse who won by 3 goals to nil. Man City were again in the final of 1956 this time v Birmingham City. Near the end of the game with Man. City leading 3 goals to 1 the Man. City goalkeeper sustained a serious neck injury. Though obviously in great pain he played on as substitutes were not allowed then. Pictures show him holding his neck as he received his medal and it turned out that he had a broken neck.

He had married the St. Helen’s manager’s daughter and tragedy struck when their first son was killed in an accident at an early age.

He played for Manchester City from 1949 until 1964. During the war he had received an Iron Cross but in his football career he not only got the Cup Final medal but also was awarded an OBE from the Queen of England in recognition of his assistance in post-war reconciliation between England and Germany. He also received a German equivalent of same. His wife, who was his rock, died a young woman in 1980 but the German Iron Cross recipient and footballer who became a hero and legend with Manchester City died in Spain in 2013 aged 89. His name was Bert Trautmann.    

 

The Very Different Stories of Four Women;

Both local papers cover the story of a Tipperary born woman who made a big impression in Athleague circa 1920. The Roscommon Herald on page 16 and in The People on page 36 have short articles on the lady named Aleen Cust MRCVS. The letters after her name tell us she was a veterinary surgeon. Apparently RTE/Nationwide were investigating this lady who is well remembered and regarded in Athleague. A timber sculpture representation of Ms. Cust can be seen near the bridge at Athleague. (Nearby is another timber sculpture to another legend –living- Johnny Haughey forever associated with hurling in Athleague and the county).

Dublin-born Irish woman, Violet Gibson, came to fame in the late 1920s’ after she attempted to kill the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. What motivated her is a mystery. Had she succeeded it might have had an influence on subsequent history. She too is getting the T.V. Documentary treatment on Wednesday Sept. 22 at 9.30 on TG4. 

Typhoid Mary Mallon

I do not listen enough to the radio as there are so many programmes of interest there. Amongst my favourites are ‘Sunday Miscellany’, ‘Playback’ a summary of good pieces from the weeks programmes and the ‘RTÉ Radio: Documentary on One’ in the early afternoon each Saturday. This award-winning documentary series has had outstanding programmes down the years and a Pod Cast of them is a real gold mine. Last Saturday I happened on one called; ‘The Curious Case of Typhoid Mary (Mallon). This told the story of a Mary Mallon from Ireland. She was a New York cook, who, while not getting ill herself, became a ‘super spreader’ of the typhoid disease in the early part of the 1900’s in New York. She was isolated for decades on an Island in view of New York and died there. This suggests likeness to the two great French books on Island incarceration ‘The Count of Monte Christo’ and ‘Papillion’.

Nicki Minaj

With my fourth lady who hit the headlines this week, I must be amongst the few who have not heard of her worldwide. That recognition got a real boost this week with a slight tweet about resistance to Covid vaccination. Her name is Nicki Minaj!  All I can say is that she can really dress up. Why is she famous…I think it is in that peculiar way that is, ‘because she is famous’!

I’ll rest my case there.

 

Mayo Defeat by Tyrone.

It was another of those huge disappointments for Mayo and its multitude of supporters. In a way, Mayo seems to lose the same way regularly. A goalkeeping mistake, a full back being over-reached by an opponent, and a lack of leadership on the field. It is something that the current team captain has not scored in any of his 5 or maybe 6 finals.

There has been plenty of ire to go around in Mayo following the result but I have no wish to add to that. They keep falling but keep getting up. There is a kind of heroic resilience there. Like all Mayo people I too, a Roscommon person, wish them to win. I imagine that the last living members of the 1950 and ’51 Mayo teams, Paddy Prendergast and panellist Dr. Mick Loftus, must feel these defeats greatly. Anyway, Mayo can look forward to next year and at least a Connacht Final win as the odds lie. I would like it if Roscommon could be so optimistic.

One should not forget Tyrone coming from a drubbing in Kerry two months or so ago, to win an All-Ireland final by beating Kerry in the Semi-Final and Mayo, convincingly, in the final. That was something special and they should be acknowledged for it.  

The Missing C.S.P.C.A. Water Troughs  

For a Boyle Arts Festival talk I walked through Boyle to rehearse my topics. I missed one I had been aware of and that was the C.S.P.C.A. (Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) trough. This ‘Philanthropic Society’ say fit to install these troughs so that animals on fair or market days had water   It had been outside Dodd’s Bar for a long time. Then it was transferred to the Courthouse steps and later to the front of St. Joseph’s Hall. In those locations, it served as a fine flower receptacle.

After a cursory search I could not locate same. Last week I started to make some enquiries and then in a pure coincidence Sean, on the Home Page of Realboyle, gave the same subject full prominence.

He numbered those as 3 which I was not aware of and came up sometime later with the one at the end of St. Patrick’s Street. So there should be two more somewhere. All I was aware of was the one from the Crescent area so if anyone knows anything of its whereabouts please let us know. These are all part of interesting street furniture, which have a history and storied background from the town's past.

 

Solheim Cup Golf and now The Ryder Cup

I found the Solheim Cup for golf, where Europe defeated the United States, hugely entertaining thanks in large part to the outstanding performance of Cavan’s Leona McGuire.

Starting Friday is The Ryder Cup the male equivalent of above. It takes place in the U.S. this time and the European team is captained by Padraig Harrington. There are two Irish golfers included in the 12 team players, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry. While McIlroy is an acknowledged star of the game it is another great achievement for Lowry. So this weekend is booked solid by thousands of golf enthused people who will be glued to their television sets to watch the thrills, spills and drama and maybe some controversy in The Ryder Cup. Even if you are not a golf fan you should dip in and maybe see why this is such a magnetic event.             

 

 

I remember here two Boyle men that I knew back the years who passed on recently. One is Michael McPadden of Hanley Ave. who was in his middle fifties. He was a student in St. Mary’s College but I also knew him as a footballer as the McPadden lads all were. I have not met Michael for a long time. His picture on the Home Page here showed a fine strong man.

The other is Willie Suffin who I always with Bert Mahoney with whom he worked in his earlier times. May they both rest in peace.

 

Slán.  

 

 

 

               

 

                              

 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Update 4th September

 Blog Friday September 3rd.

 

Where to today?

Thoughts on Tyrone v Kerry.

I have asked a friend to get me a copy of ‘The Kerryman’ newspaper so that I can read their take on Kerry’s surprise defeat by Tyrone in the All-Ireland Semi-Final. That is part of my holistic approach to getting a grip on what happened.  

I have to hand this week’s ‘The Roscommon Herald’ and Father Liam Devine’s short take on it also. As you may know there was a certain amount about Covid and the Tyrone team for the last few weeks. Liam too has a few mentions of that issue and I will quote one nice one as follows;

 “The rapid recovery and the rude good health of the Tyrone players must be a great boost and consolation to people who have tested positive with Covid 19”.

It was the Kerry players who seemed to be struggling with cramps and so on as the game went through injury time. I presume that will be addressed in their post- match analysis.

Anyway Tyrone won because they played with a ferocity that may have been taken from Limerick's playbook. Their determination, motivation, and drive and their taking of the goal chances were key.

Their win now sets up a totally new challenge for Mayo in the final. There is no calling of it with any degree of certainty. Maybe Mayo will be less overawed by Tyrone than they would be by Kerry? Will Mayo be able to cope with the total war of the Tyrone team and substitutes? While the Mayo management will have been preparing, for the most part, to face Kerry they will now have to re-gig their mindset to face a very different challenge. Maybe this fresh challenge will present Mayo with (as is being said) a better chance of getting the Holy Grail of Gaelic football. It is intriguing, interesting, fresh, novel and only God knows how it is going to pan out.    

 

Father Devine’s Column

This is one of the features that I always go to when I start reading the Sports Section of, ‘The Roscommon Herald’. This week he referenced four different items The game as above and also that the Meath minor midfielder Jack Kinlough had Roscommon connections which he has. His father Oliver (Ollie) Kinlough and his grandfather -Frankie-who was the great forward with the Roscommon team of the forties. ‘Kinlough of the Golden goals’ as he has been referred to from time to time. Ollie played for a time with Padraig Pearse’s and also had some game with Roscommon a good few years ago now.

Gerry O’Reilly R.I.P.

Liam also referred to the death of Gerry O’Reilly of Rooskey. Gerry played wing back for Roscommon in the All-Ireland of 1962 v Kerry. He was a Garda and lived in Templemore the Garda training town in Tipp.   

Liam also paid a tribute to Liam ‘Chunky’ O’ Brien who was one of the star players in the Kilkenny team of the seventies. His club was ‘The Village’ one of the three great Kilkenny City clubs. It is also the club of Brian Cody.

I remember being at a senior hurling final in Nolan Park a decent few years ago and they honoured a club team from Bennetsbridge at half time which had won several county titles in the sixties. Even I was aware of the great players of that club team as the announcer called out their names.

I have suggested to Father Liam that he put together a book with material he has already had published in his columns in ‘The Herald’.

He is from the same townland as myself in Castlecoote, Fuerty and he went for a time to Roscommon C.B.S. and then to Summerhill and then Maynooth. He was in Sligo for a long time and during that time was P.R.O for Sligo GAA County Board a position he took with Roscommon when he transferred for a time to Athlone. He currently serves in Loughglynn area.

 

P.S. If you are reading through ‘the Herald’ of August 31st you might read a very interesting essay titled;

 ‘Athleague man cares deeply about his local environment’.

The man in question is James Moran who I know pretty well and he touches on many elements of living in past and present times and highlights the grave challenges that are ahead for the next generation.      

 

Some Boyle GAA Notes

The Boyle Senior team play Michael Glavey’s on Saturday in the Hyde Park at 6.30. After their fine performance and win against Roscommon Gaels last time they will be hoping to copper-fasten their grip on the knock-out stages with a win…but you never can tell!

Two members of Boyle GAA were featured in the national papers recently with Cian Smith the Boyle team manager talking to reporter Arlene Harris. Cian talked initially of how fate and coincidence probably saved his life from cancer.

He talked about his cancer from diagnosis in 2007, intervention, the period of treatment to where he is now. It is a very telling and clear account of his experience. I do not know if you can access it online but it was published in the Health and Living section of the Irish Independent of Monday, August 23rd. Cian a member of the Roscommon All-Ireland minor winning team of 2006. His dad Mike Jnr. is Chairperson of the Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation.

The story emphasises the necessity for men to be more aware of health issues and not be dismissive of the warning signs.     

Daire Cregg turned up in the Farmer’s Journal talking of his farming exploits. Between education in UCD, football with Roscommon and Boyle and farming he certainly leads a very busy life. I have been detached from farming for quite a while now but Daire’s condensed story of heifers, bull calves, and ‘Friesian Jersey crosses’ told me I was well out of touch with Daire’s farming world. Still, he was able to insert the classic saying ‘every day is a learning day’. One that seems apt with Daire is ‘if you want something done ask a busy man’.      

 

Mention of Castlecoote

 R.T.E. will be transmitting a double documentary programme, on Monday and Tuesday nights the 6th and 7th of September on the tragic death of Father Niall Molloy in July 1985 aged 52. Father Molloy was then a curate of Athleague/Fuerty parish in Castlecoote. The death occurred around a wedding in Clara in Offaly and confused details surrounding his death have since then been contested by his family. His nephews Bill Maher and Henry McCourt have been trying steadfastly to uncover the truth of what happened to their uncle and who was really responsible. Perhaps this R.T.E. documentary might throw some light on it but I would not be in any way optimistic.

 

Seamus Heaney Nobel Laureate

On Wednesday night, on TG4, I watched a repeat of a programme paying tribute to the great Derry poet Seamus Heaney. I should have ‘taped it’ as it was a delight. It represented a kind and humble genius, a supporting and guiding wife that was Marie Devlin and family siblings who mirrored his humility. His life’s story flowed as if it was a stream. He came from Bellaghy, went to secondary school in St. Columb’s Derry then on to Queens University. There he met his wife Marie who was his soulmate. He lived first in Belfast until 1972 and then in Wicklow and later Dublin. He lectured a great deal abroad in Berkley University California, Oxford and Harvard. I remember getting a poetry book ‘Soundings’ autographed by him during Boyle Arts week when he gave reading in The Church of Ireland. He was awarded the Noble Prize for literature in 1995. He got a stroke in 2006 and died August 31st 2013. I was in Dublin on his funeral day and regret not attending outside the church at Sandymount then. I was in Croke Park for an All-Ireland Semi-Final Kerry v Dublin with friends. Before the game started his death and funeral were announced and a minute’s silence called. The crowd of 80, 000 stood and paid their respects and ended with a round of applause. It was a unique and remarkable gesture. His daughter mentioned it in the documentary and how shy Seamus would be if he could have known.

One of his book collections of poetry has the apt title of, ‘The Spirit Level’ which makes one think, especially in these testing times. I could go on a good bit about Seamus Heaney but maybe if I add the poem which was nominated as Ireland’s favourite it would be better;

 

  ‘When all the others were away at Mass’

I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.

They broke the silence, let fall one by one

Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:

Cold comforts set between us, things to share

Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.

And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes

From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

 

So while the parish priest at her bedside

Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying

And some were responding and some crying

I remembered her head bent towards my head,

Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–

Never closer the whole rest of our lives.   

The family too talked about the inscription on his headstone and for whatever reason I looked at again later in my scribbled notes when Ronaldo had scored his two goals;

“Walk on air

       Against

Your Better

      Judgement.

The Death of Pat Hume

 Another death, that is the death of Pat Hume on Thursday. Pat was the wife of the one of the greatest Irishmen in Irish history, John Hume. Like Marie Devlin, but in a very different environment, Pat was the rock on which John rested and relied on to get him through all the challenges and adversity of his times. The family were threatened, abused, mocked, but she held it all together. She was one of those heroic Irish women. She was married to John (another Nobel Prize recipient) for 59 years and in the announcement of her death yesterday the family began “We are heartbroken to announce the death of ……”  We owe these women like we owe so many mothers huge, unconditional, gratitude.

Epilogue

All this has chastened me and I will not now enter the arena of farce that is a thing called Merriongate. Get real as to the scales of significance.  

Slán.     

             

              

Friday, August 20, 2021

Update 20th August

 ‘The world is in a state of chassis’

 The playwright Sean O’Casey wrote something of that nature in one of his plays. The world today certainly is in a similar bind. It is arguable that the modern empire of power and influence, the United States, is being rocked and is potentially in decline. The dramatic collapse of the U. S. nurtured government in Afghanistan and the chaotic, sad and dramatic scenes that have emerged in Kabul is potentially a core picture of that in progress. The speed with which it developed is staggering and the same can be said of the failure to realise that such could happen.  Now a country that was emerging from a medieval past is possibly going to be tossed back again into that dark, depressing and dangerous environment.

I have watched more news and programming of current affairs from the U.S. in the last eight months than I have ever done. Starting with the march on the Capitol in Washington on January 6thand the resistance of such a percentage of the U.S. electorate to accept the Presidential election outcome it has been a hugely testing time for the administration in that country. The lack of cooperation amongst the political parties for the common good is depressing. Then we in this island have experienced a good deal of that also in recent decades.  

Watching from the wings are Russia and China. Around thirty years ago I visited a former history teacher of mine -Tom Geraghty- from Roscommon C.B.S. days. After a long conversation touching on a number of things I moved to leave. I was stopped in my tracks when he posted the question; “And, and, what about China?” So that had to be ‘treated of’ for another half hour. He viewed China then as the emerging empire for the twentieth century and his view seems to be gaining incremental evidence with each decade.

The challenges for a benign western society which has given a good life and example to many for nearly sixty years or so are alarming. As we speak we have Covid and its twists and turns; Climate change with its effects in rising temperatures across global averages, enormous forest fires from California to the Mediterranean and the Tundra area of Russia to Australia, Brazil and more. Then there are the surges of refugees more than after W.W.2. The growth of the drug trade with the suggestion that they can be sourced easily. Now that the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan the possibility of the drug trade from there is said to be huge. The open trade and abuse of drugs in our own capital city. Enough of all that for now.          

 

Sport and its Diversion

After Roscommon seniors lost to Galway I was in some despair as to the future of the GAA games in Roscommon. Then, as if from nowhere, like a Christmas advertisement, came a series of county football wins that lifted the spirits. Those same spirits needed some lifting! Oddly the first balm came with another defeat that being by Kerry in the All-Ireland minor semi-final for 2020. The foundation for this had been laid a good while ago with a win over Galway and the quality of the performance remained.

Then the minors of 2021 continued with a great win against Mayo and especially an outstanding comeback v old foes Galway. This team did not reach their best form for the Connacht final and a with key player being injured they lost to a good Sligo team who were bridging a gap of over fifty years. We certainly didn’t begrudge it to Sligo.

Next came the Under 20 team who defeated Mayo convincingly in the Connacht Final and then overcame a somewhat arrogant Down team in the All-Ireland semi- final at Cavan to set up an intriguing Final v Offaly. The gods deserted Roscommon with some early missed goal opportunities and in the second half Offaly got into their stride to reach a handsome lead. Still the fighting spirit of the Roscommon team shone through again as they clawed their way to within a goal score of Offaly but time ran out on them.

The joy of the Offaly team and its supporters including V.I.P. supporter Shane Lowry showed what it all meant to them also.

In any event we can look at these two grades with optimism for next year. We have to be aware that the performances of teams, even those who bring forward some veterans from a previous year, they are not predictive. 

 It all justified a long tenure on my flagpole of the Roscommon colours for this year and if it is similar in 2022 it will be a great sign. Still as the old prophecy goes ‘when man plans for the future the Gods smile’. Another one being used by American military officers on CNN goes ‘plans can corrode at the first point of contact with the enemy’.

Sport of the Home Front.

This Friday evening, we return to the domestic fare with a Senior championship first round game v Roscommon Gaels in the Abbey Park. While our record with ‘the Gaels’ has been negative the senior panel is being supplemented each year by very good young players and this year is no different. So we can look to qualifying from the group stages to the knockout section and then it is in the lap of the Gods.

Since, by the next edition of the Oblique View, the major draw being promoted by Boyle GAA and Boyle Celtic will be concluded at the end of August I suggest that, if you are of mind to, you log on to the sites of either of these clubs to purchase a ticket.    

Boyle Arts Festival

I wish to commend the organising committee of the Boyle Arts Festival for keeping the flame of the Festival alive when it might have been easy to put hands up and pass for another year. The running of the events required imagination and improvisation with the Marque coming to the rescue. I’ll just mention three of the items amongst the many which impressed and they were Carole Coleman in conversation with Kingston Mills who has been prominent on our airwaves with guidance on Covid’s status. The talk uncovered a real picture of Mister Mills and his background and his strong connection to Boyle. There are a number of these events which will be available online at www.boylearts.com.  Another item to look out for there is a Donie O’Connor song titled ‘Queen of Main Street’. 

Three regular performers Lizzie, Lynda & Ceara unsurprisingly repeated their success from former festivals.

A nugget for me was Laura Earley with an illustrated talk on mosaics in County Roscommon. She told the story of Mister John Crean from Ballygar who established a ‘factory’ for Mosaic production in Roscommon town in the 1950s’. Early in the venture he brought a number of Italian craftsmen to the factory to enhance their products. Two of them were Sergio Bennedetti and Luciano De Paoli. I went to national school in Castlecoote where the school was located close by the old church and similarly with a new church being built in the later fifties. As schoolboys we witnessed all the construction activity and this included the use of mosaics in the church where I served mass after its dedication. I also got to know Sergio Benedettie who is very well known in Roscommon.

From Laura’s talk I finally got to distinguish between mosaics and terrazzo which is a composite of various chips of stone with a binding material.

There were three examples referenced from Boyle and they were Mac Namara’s on Main Street, Carroll’s on Bridge Street and at the entrance to The Royal Hotel.  Laura’s sister Katie – a milliner- featured in two-page spread in The Roscommon Herald of August 10 with Ciara McCaughley. So the Mullymux based Earley girls are part of a talented and innovative family.  

Sport Keeps Giving

I really enjoyed the European Cup and now we are into the World Cup qualifying cycle for the finals in Qatar in 2022, next year! There are three games for Ireland at the beginning of September with Ireland playing Portugal away, followed by Azerbaijan and Serbia all within a week.

Ryder Cup Golf

This competition will take place at Whistling Straits, Haven, Wisconsin in the U.S. This state is in the area of the Great Lakes of the United States. The American Captain is Steve Stricker. He has a good few challenges as I read he has six Captain’s picks. The European captain is Padraig Harrington which should help Shane Lowry if he does not make the automatic selection.

 The 1966 All-Ireland winning U 21 team remembered and recorded.

The above team and their campaign have now been recorded in a detailed book by a member of the team, Paul Mockler, with a significant footprint of Mick Rock from Elphin. They were a hugely talented team with many of them progressing to the Roscommon senior team. The captain of the team was Colm Shine from Clann na Gael who passed away not long ago. The team was managed by Dr. Donal Keenan the Chairman of the County Board who was generally the main side-line voice for senior teams during his time as Chairman.

Roscommon’s opponents in the final were Kildare, which presented the Clarke Cup for the winners that year, possibly expecting to win it themselves perhaps as they were defending champions and had a star-studded team. Indeed, prominent sports journalist John D. Hickey suggested that “It will be the eighth wonder of the world if Roscommon beat Kildare in this year’s final”. Boyle had a number of players with that team. Pat Clarke was at corner back and Pat Nicholson was at full back while John Kelly Elphin/Boyle was at corner forward. John Nicholson and Ray Sheerin were also members of the team and played in earlier games. Amongst the other prominent players were Dermot Earley, Martin Joe Keane, Tom Heneghan and Marty Cummins. It was a great team, a great game and a fine victory. As a spectator it still echoes as one of my best memories a Roscommon performance and result in Croke Park. All this is covered in detail by Paul in this book with a picture from the Crescent Boyle of members of the team saluting the welcoming crowd from Johnny Keaveney’s lorry. The book is available from Supervalu stores and various other outlets at €12.

P.S. This book provides a template perhaps for other campaigns by Roscommon. The one that stands out is the minor win in Ennis v Kerry in 2006 where the logjam of traffic on the route down was a little similar to images prominent on television screens. They are now the good memories.                

 

All Ireland Hurling Final

This takes place on Sunday next between Cork and Limerick. Cork won the U 20 championship this week and are in the minor final on Sunday v Galway. Cork has been in the doldrums for a time winning the All-Ireland last in 2005 which is a really long stretch for them but they seem to be coming strong right now. Limerick dismissed Waterford in the semi-final while Cork overcame a dogged Kilkenny after extra time in their semi-final. Personally having witnessed the relentless power and ruthless approach of Limerick I feel they will win comfortably. Cork are a team for the future but that is not this year.   

Limerick the defending champions are going for a third title in four years which has not happened for them since the days of Mick Mackey in the 1930s. This is a unique final as the finalists come from the same province and Limerick and Cork have never met in a final.   

Covid and Boyle

I read with disappointment that Covid is very prevalent in Boyle at this time. Apparently, taking notice of the guidelines of masking and social distancing and recognising the danger of community spread are being ignored by some in our population. We are now listed amongst the top figures on various scales. With the onset of children going back to school those figures of community spread will be difficult to contain and reduce. So if we can get over this surge and learn from it, maybe things can improve. It will take a more careful and caring approach for ourselves and our neighbours to achieve that.     

 

TAKE CARE         

  

 

 

 

 

        

Monday, August 2, 2021

 Sport and More Sport

The drama of sport continues like a roller coaster. After all the drama of the Euro Soccer Championships, which was compelling, comes the Olympics.

But first to more localised thrills in familiar arenas. This involves inter-county championships. After the disappointment of the Roscommon senior defeat to Galway in a drab and uninspiring Connacht championship game, some of us thought that Roscommon’s future looked bleak. But then came a number of major performances from the minors and U 20s’. Their victories have led to the U 20s’ being in the All-Ireland semi-final on Saturday next v Down in Cavan and the U 17s’ being in the Connacht final v Sligo in the Hyde on Friday.

All this in a way started with a defeat in an All-Ireland Semi-Final to Kerry -which was a residue of last year’s incomplete minor competition- on July 11th on the score of Kerry 3.21 Roscommon 2.13.   While that team lost to a very good Kerry team the attacking and competitive style of play was uplifting. Little did those of us on the margins realise that this was to be the pattern with the winning of the games since then.

Certainly it has endorsed my leaving the Roscommon flag flying high in front of the house.

While all of these four games have been great for Roscommon supporters to watch last week-end’s U 17 win over Galway was the real thriller. Behind by 11 points at one stage Roscommon through the second half stormed back to snatch the game near the death amid high drama in a nail-biting finale. Roscommon 1.16 Galway 2. 12. It is a rare day that a Roscommon team could achieve that against Galway. 

Since I write these notes for a basically Boyle constituency I will mention Boyle’s significant part in these games. Oisin Cregg had been a pivotal player in ‘last year’s’ U 17 team. His brother Daire is a key player in this year’s U 20 team which faces Down. Boyle had two players featuring on the team v Galway at U 17 who were Eden Kerins and Daniel Casey (nephew of David) with Niall O’Donnell coming on towards the end. Apart from those 3 there are other Boyle players, David Flanagan and Luke McGrath who are unlucky to be missing out due to injury and then there are Gavin O’Connor and Joseph Coyle on the panel also.

Versus Galway Eden Kerins gave a ‘Man of the Match’ performance as he drove forward, distributed the ball with deft accurate passing and using his soccer skills to effect a number of times. This is a pretty rare practise which I do not understand.

I have seen these players a good few times at the various under-age stages and they are a treat to watch especially when they take on an equally good Roscommon Gaels team.

So well done to all those young players. They have raised the spirits of Roscommon supporters again and thanks to their club coaches down the years and their management teams of now.

Boyle Ladies convincing win v St. Brigid’s in League Final

On Sunday last I was present in the Abbey Park for a senior ladies league final. I was hugely impressed by the quality of the performance of these ladies. Scores were pretty close at half time but in the second half Boyle gave an exhibition of point-scoring that I have rarely seen in the Abbey grounds. There was a sequence of around five points, with no wide, by Boyle. They have many fine players in this Ladies team. Since I am not in any way qualified to nominate star players I’ll add the Boyle ladies team as posted by the Club P.R.O. here;

 

R. Johnson; S. Keenahan, I. King, S. Kerins; C. Cregg, S. Moran, S. King; R. Cox, M. McKeon; G. Flanagan, S. Cull, M. Ward; H. Kerins, K. Harrington, N. Regan. (Some familiar names there!)

Add to this were the two Wynne ladies who came on and turned in a great shift.

In this week’s ‘The Roscommon Herald’ I came across a reference to Róisin Wynne by the Herald reporter Kevin Egan which is worthy of inserting here. At the end of his report on Roscommon’s defeat by Laois of the Roscommon team in the Intermediate Championship (Sport page 16) he nominated 9 Laois players who could have been nominated as ‘Player of the Day’. He continues;

However it would be unfair to put any one of them ahead of Roisin Wynne, who was nothing short of out-standing once she was handed the task of a marking- job on Mo Nerney (Laois’s constant star). Between her (Roisin’s)goal-line clearance, any number of superb tackles and factoring in how this was a task thrust upon her early in the game as opposed to something she could prepare for, it was an incredible showing from the Boyle player”.  

Now that is as good a salute to a great performance as I think I have ever read. So well done Roisin and well done Kevin.  

 

Now to some important Club Errata;

The Boyle GAA and Boyle Celtic Major Draw takes place at the end of this month.

In the mean-time to get you there you could participate in Boyle GAA’s Club Lotto where the Jackpot prize has now reached the dizzy heights of 10,000 euro.   

Congrats to Boyle Celtic

Congratulations to Boyle Celtic who won a cup in the R.D.F. L. (Roscommon and District Football League) on Sunday by 1 to 0 over Ballymoe. One of the stars of the team was James Bolger from Corrigeenroe but alas James is returning to his college in the U.S. shortly. He will be sorely missed by the sports clubs in Boyle. Bon voyage James. Well done also to team manager Jake McCrann on this win. The cup was in memory of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Roscommon League. So that would have been 1971 which means I must have played in some very early games of that league. I remember playing in Glinsk, Galway, near O’Dowd’s Bar! I remember John Mc Guinn, Sean Daly, James Candon, Freddie Daly and John McPherson and maybe Hal Cawley. I could have been a contender!  

The Lions Tamed

After the delight of their win in the first test v the Springboks (South Africans) the British and Irish Lions were brought down to earth in all its morphisms on Saturday last. As a ‘sports’ game it should not be given that title as it was a ‘bear wrestle’ and they were banned close to two centuries ago. It is likely that in fifty years’ time people will look at recordings of this kind of ‘game’ in amazement that it was supposed to be regarded as a sport. The game stuttered on in a stop-start nature with score and dangerous play reviews by the new time.

The few real plays in the game came from the South Africans and that was why they won. I do not imagine the parents of the Lions members are looking forward to the third and last ‘test’ next Saturday afternoon. I’ll tune in to see if the Lions can make any headway against the Goliaths. 

The Death of Michael Fitzmaurice

One of Roscommon’s greatest ambassadors in the capital, Dublin, Michael Fitzmaurice, passed away in the past week. While he lived in Dublin his heart was always with Roscommon. He supported numerous initiatives in supporting things Roscommon. He was founder member of the active Roscommon Association in the capital. One of his legacies is the collection of Roscommon Association Year Books later Roscommon Life. That was for around 25 years. I met him first in Arnott’s Shop where he was dedicated employee for decades. 

He was a major supporter of Roscommon GAA and many teams and players were the recipients of his and the Roscommon Association’s hospitality down the years. He was one of the senior stalwarts who are now a vanishing race. May his gentle soul rest in peace.    

 

The Olympics;

The landscape of sport has been on show in Japan these weeks. I have tried to tune into a certain amount of it especially the input of the Irish. The rowers came through for the most part and were great with an attitude to match. Our own Niamh O’Rourke of course did her very best in a close middleweight fight but the veteran Chinese lady Li got the verdict. Still to get to the Olympics was some achievement. Boxer Aidan Walshe though getting a bronze lost his chance of going further after his Michael Carruth’s Barcelona ’92 gold-winning-celebration of jumping up and down resulted in an ankle injury that put him out for the silver medal fight.

(As an aside I think that coaches should coach their teams to celebrate safely. Often after a goal, in soccer especially, the scorer is buried under a pile of bodies and it surprising that there are not more injuries as a consequence).

One of the most enjoyable celebrations of a gold medal and an iconic moment of this Olympics was when the two leading high jumpers decided that they would not go into a jump-off. So Qatar’s jumper, Bashim, and his Italian opposing competitor but friend Tamberi agreed to share the medal. Bashim looked on in bemusement as Tamberi rolled around the ground in joy.

I’ve seen that shared impulse happen a couple of times. I doubt if it will catch on Saturday in South Africa!   

I will return to the Olympics next time and refer to Rory and Shane.

 I have a turf assignment to address right now so I will adjourn this wander through current sport and return to Tonroe.

P.S.    if you got this far! As part of the Arts Festival programme I will be giving an illustrated wander around Boyle with the aid of screened pictures if you feel comfortable in attending that. It takes place on Friday afternoon and booking is required!

Take Care.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Update 17th July

Boyle GAA Nursery Initiative.

The True Spirit Shines Forth from the Actions of Babes; One of my positive ‘sights’ of Boyle arises when walking up the Sligo Road from below the Abbey Park on a sunny day and seeing the Cúl Camps for young players in progress. To see the lovely Abbey Park in its historic environs dotted with wee kids like mushrooms is a sight to behold. This was endorsed when I read the following notice in the GAA notes recently, and I quote;

“Last Monday July 5th , Boyle (GAA) started our nursery programme with the most enthusiastic kids that ever walked or ran on grass. There were 66 boys and girls and over 20 coaches and (club) officers in action  on that Monday evening. The 4 to U 6 programme focuses on basic movements and skills with the most important skill to having fun and making friends . Well done to all”.

And isn’t it great to be able to add our own ‘well done’ to all involved also? That is the spirit and long may the aspiration of skills, fun and friends be to the fore with those growing kids and enlightened mentors.

*Speaking of the fine Abbey Park there is a big draw in the process in conjunction with Boyle Celtic to raise funds to provide better facilities for both clubs at their playing fields. The Abbey Park must be one of the best-used sporting facilities around. It is great to see the togetherness of both the soccer and Gaelic club clubs taking on this major fundraiser in true community spirit. Now if anyone reading this abroad especially it would be great to see them come on board by purchasing a ticket and in so doing be in with a chance to win a major prize of a car plus while supporting the home place. To do so, if you log into the websites of Boyle Celtic or Boyle GAA  you can buy a ticket online there. Or if necessary contact me at conboytc@gmail.com.   

Roscommon and GAA at a Crossroads.

Roscommon Senior team gave a disappointing display when being beaten by Galway in the Connacht Semi-final. It is not as if they did not try their utmost which we should always bear in mind. Losing to Galway is not new and if one studied the statistics that would be borne out. We have had our days in the sun and rain in Salthill and other venues. Our population mitigates against the pyramid of numbers. Each spring we dust ourselves down, put last year's disappointment aside with renewed vigour and …most years get chastised for our optimism!

Still there are chinks of light coming through the floorboards. One was the display, a while ago now. It was the Roscommon minor team especially in a win over Galway. We made our star contribution then with young Crag and reserve goalkeeper McPherson on standby. This group stayed together for many months to take on a fine Kerry team in the All-Ireland Semi-Final last Sunday. This too was a great game with young Crag injured being a big deficit but they never gave up and had some obvious bright players in Hand, Gamely and others as the scoreline shows the coat of negativity was left aside as they went at it ‘hammer and tongs’ and gave us a lovely exhibition of skill, openness and sportsmanship. Congratulations to all.

The U 20s’ also are in the Connacht final v Mayo having defeated Sligo last weekend. So we can look forward to that and not take the flag down yet.

The Crossroads

The defeat of Leitrim 0.11 to Mayo 5.20 has poured more fuel on and sparked a renewed debate on the logic of these matchups. This, for the most part, is tied into the Provincial structures which have obtained since the beginning. But is this still fit for purpose? I doubt it but many conservatives will not be for changing. This week in his very popular column in The Roscommon Herald Fr. Liam Devine suggested that the system of Senior, Intermediate and Junior as practised by the LGFA is worthy of consideration for a change.

It works well within the county so why not outside? It is outside for inter-club competition rivalry leading to All –Ireland days for Senior, Intermediate and Junior Clubs. I was part of that a few years ago when Forty got to the All-Ireland Junior Final and though defeated they were really satisfied that they got to play in Crooke Park. Historically Roscommon for some years in the latter years of the 1930s’ took part only in the Junior championship. Then in 1939 they reached the final of that competition and lost but retuned to win it in 1940. That team formed the basis of the great days of the forties for Roscommon. At under-age, I’ve always felt that winning or more importantly participating in a  competition at whatever level is much better than being out of one’s depth at a much higher level. The milk ad is a real example of perspective. ‘Another team would have lost by 15 goals.

Lough Key Park.

I have visited Lough Key Visitor and Activity Park a number of times of late. It is really in full bloom especially when the sun shines. The staff and management there have tried extremely hard to enhance the facilities and services that people can avail of. I presume that most people from around Boyle appreciate what they have on their doorstep. There are numerous kiosks now to facilitate patrons. Once the park seemed to resist such customer/visitor aids. Now there are plenty of diversions. I look forward to the opening of the playground!  With the Coved time emphasis on holidaying at home, I presume that it has helped swell the number of people who use the camping sites. There is a big increase in Irish ownership of camper vans and such. Ireland seemed to me to have been behind the curve with this type of holiday escape.

The fairly recent Renaissance of cycling continues at a pace and one sees this in the park as all ages avail of pedal power. It is such an exercising, valid and safe way to get to grips with the various tracks and trails of the park. The introduction of the new cycleway from the park and into Boyle is a real bonus. In more reasonable times one could imagine the volume of users of this lovely cycleway and end up in the town of Boyle. Boyle had been on a very positive visitor curve in 2019 and hopefully, that will crystallise next year.  So Louise keep pushing the positive boundaries. Keep the faith as the populist saying goes.  

McGahern Barracks is Open to visitors

The Barracks in Cootehall is open by appointment only from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.  Appointments can be made via the Barracks website, www.mcgahernbarracks.ie or by contacting 087 9588734. Entrance fee is €5 per adult and €2.50 for children aged from 11 to 17. It is on my ‘to do’ list.  

The Elixir/Beauty of Sport;

The end of the Euros was also the end of a month of high drama and entertainment. It was perhaps the most dramatic and enjoyable sports Tournament for decades. Maybe that call is influenced by its immediacy. One has to review it in reverse order starting with the Final.

It was certainly high drama. England’s immediate, unexpected score, distorted the scene for some time. Italy, probably the best team in the Tournament were deserved winners. They were involved in two of the most dramatic games of the series, their win over Spain and then against England. Italy had the ‘personality’ of the Tournament in their captain Giorgio Chiellini and the second Gladiator Bonucci. Chiellini showed his leadership and also his enjoyment of the challenges he faced. Regularly too we saw him smile and show how relaxed the great player could be on numerous occasions during the competition. He was someone with whom the Italian support could muster around. They too had a charismatic manager in Mancini. This quick revival resulted from their failure to get to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This was incredible for Italy and also hard to believe is the fact that this Euro win is their first since 1968!    

For the naysayers in terms of supporting England, it must have been a joy but for the minority in this country who tipped the scale in the direction of wanting England to win it was disappointing. This is an ongoing debate for a long time. While the team management and teams themselves are very likeable entities a lot of the ire is due to that section of support who do so much damage to the image of the total package. Booing the national anthems of opposing teams, the drunken and aggressive behaviour as witnessed in Lansdowne Road some years ago. The ‘gung ho’ of the red top papers, the equating of a potential win as being another item of evidence of a false positive for BREXIT and so on. They make it hard to be on their side nationally.

The team members themselves seem to me to be probably to a man genuine decent people. Who can criticise Harry Keane, McGuire, Walker, Rice, Grealish. A number of those have recently emerged as social benefactors led by Marcus Rashford and Raheen Sterling . Thousands of Irish follow these same players with various teams in the English leagues.   

 However, those whose job it is to try and expunge the cancer in the English support have an almighty task on hand. But it has to be done. The pictures of hundreds of ‘fans’ without tickets rushing into Wembley was like a repeat of the attack on the Capitol in Washington on January 6th. A commentator I saw on television describing the drink and drug-fuelled scene on Wembley Way long prior to the game was frightening.

The British Open Golf;

The grey skies of post Euros have passed and another iconic sporting event is in progress i.e. the British Open Golf on the  Royal St. George’s bumpy looking course in Kent on the coast, not far from London. Irish hopes are as always recently with McIlroy and Lowry. Lowry had a great win two years ago at Portrush in the rain and has been the custodian of the ‘Claret Jug’ trophy  since then as there was no ‘Open’ in 2020.

The British and Irish Lions are in South Africa but lost a secondary game on Wednesday night. The three tests are the real challenges with those tournaments. The Springboks are world champions and showed that on Wednesday. Despite Covid restrictions and lack of meaningful games, they are still a huge and intimidating test. So the battles are coming down the road.  All this is taking place to the background of a country in turmoil with riots and social unrest topped by the pandemic of Covid.

The Olympics too begin on Friday July 23rd to a background of Covid and zero crowds which will of course create a surreal atmosphere and be a benchmark in the history of this great international gathering of all brands of sports.  

Books and More Books

I was pleased but not surprised to see that a former student of mine, Harry Keaney, put a section of his life down on paper. As has been heralded on the Home Page of Realboyle the title of the book is ‘Carrowreagh’ where Harry lived as a boy. It lies between Ballyrush and Riverstown. I know the area pretty well. He deals with those youthful times vividly. He treats of the next stage in his life when he attended St. Mary’s College in Boyle with kindness and regard. The founder of St. Mary’s, Father Kevin Dodd, was from the neighbouring townland of Ballyrush and so boys from that area gravitated towards Boyle. The next part of his life was a reporter mentored by the Michéal O’ Callaghan, Editor of The Roscommon Herald. His biographical journey ends there in this book.

Perhaps he plans to add a second part to it, as, after a ten-year stint there, Harry went to New York and continued in the newspaper business with the Irish paper there the ‘Irish Echo’.  During that time he was nominated as Sligo ‘Person of the Year’. He had a 3-year stint with the Sligo Champion before going to N.Y. and returned to it again for around 13 years on coming back to Ireland.  At present he is involved with Ocean FM Sligo local radio station.  

1966 U 21 All-Ireland

I heard of a gentleman enquiring regarding a book in production on this great team. The person who is doing this was a member of that team Paul Mockler from Ballinlough who now lives in retirement in Ennis. The book is now with the printers and I will advise those interested when it is available. Boyle had a number of players on that team such as Pat Clarke, Pat and John Nicholson, John Kelly (Elphin) and Ray Sheeran from Knockvicar. They defeated a star-studded Kildare in the final.

There are some other books I have come across lately which I will mention anon.

I will adjourn at that so take care and enjoy the sunshine.       

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Update 7th April

Leitrim Mourns its Sporting Hero…Packie McGarty



It was with sadness that I, a Roscommon man, heard of the passing of Leitrim’s greatest Gaelic footballer, Packie McGarty at the age of 88. I feel that it would be very difficult for young people today to understand what icons like Packie meant to a county then. His decade, in the main, was the fifties when each of the five Connacht counties had their most distinctive and arguably greatest football heroes. Galway had Purcell and Stockwell, Sligo had Naas O Dowd, eclipsed later by Mickey Kearins; Mayo had any number of great players such as Paraic Carney, ‘Big’ Tom Langan and so on; Roscommon had Gerry O’Malley and Leitrim had McGarty and Flynn.

 

From Mohill, McGarty showed his potential early and began to represent the county at the age of sixteen playing senior before he played minor, legend has it.  Due to the circumstances of birth, his was not a career endowed with success and medals but one of relentless striving to get to the upper levels of the hill. It required a deep well of optimism that the next game, the next challenge, might be the one that succeeds. 

 

(We did see it in 1995 when with a dam-burst of emotion Leitrim finally won a Connacht title again and played in an All-Ireland Semi-Final at Croke Park.)

 

Leitrim in the fifties had a fine team led by McGarty and Flynn when they lost three Connacht finals in a row to Connacht kingpins Galway and in 1958 in St. Coman’s Park, Roscommon, they came within a whisker of making the breakthrough with McGarty having the game of a hero. Leitrim and especially McGarty’s failure to get Leitrim over the line that day, which I as  a boy witnessed, gave little joy to his opponents Purcell and Stockwell.

McGarty and teammates continued to toil in the Leitrim colours through the sixties, always with hope in their hearts and McGarty their model and inspiration. It is a benchmark of that era that a county’s finest sporting idol had to immigrate to labour in England being unable to acquire any meaningful work at home. Galway top brass tried to get him to play with Galway and guaranteed a decent job for him, it is said, in the sugar factory in Tuam. However his loyalty to his home county in that respect trumped all.

 

There was one stage though where all of us Connacht people could unite and shout for Purcell, Mayo’s Edward Moriarty from Boyle; O’Dowd from Sligo; O’Malley from Roscommon and of course McGarty. That was in the Railway Cup competition between the provinces.  

Connacht could hold its own and sometimes better on St. Patrick’s Day and crowds would be there from the west to support in unison. I imagine Packie must have revelled in the company of the other Connacht giants like Purcell and O’Malley as the province won in ’57 and ’58. He came to the team in ’54 and continued until ’67. He was a notable absentee in ’59, ’60, and 1961 probably in England then.

 

So I feel that there will be much reflection in Leitrim and with the Leitrim diaspora in far flung cities like New York especially where he also played. Reflection and some tears too, especially amongst senior people who saw him strive against all the odds with skill, tenacity, style and enduring courage realising that fate was not at his back. His memory will live long throughout the proud county of Leitrim. Packie McGarty was a special sportsman whose reward will be in a fairer place.