Thursday, 29 December 2016

Hogmanay

Hogmanay, or cake day, is the name used in Scotland and North England for New Year's Eve and the gifts then made. Presents are exchanged by friends; children are given oatcakes to the cry of "hogmanay"; masquers sing and act sketches. This year's Hogmanay also offers sporting entertainment by those great soccer protagonists from Glasgow Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Park, home of Rangers.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

An 1897 editorial by Francis P. Church in the New York Sun became one of the most popular ever written. It was written in response to a letter the paper received from an eight-year old girl seeking assurance that Santa Claus existed. The girl's name was Virginia O'Hanlon and I will show her letter hereunder:-
Dear Editor, 
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says,"If you see it in The Sun, it's so". Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus? 
Virginia O'Hanlon.

I will quote some of Mr.Church's response:
...Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life it's highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginia's! There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished... 
....No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives for ever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood
Veteran editor, Mr.Church, had covered the Civil War for the New York Times and was then an anonymous editorial writer for the New York Sun having worked on that newspaper for the previous 20 years. His famous editorial was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Virginia O'Hanlon, with her masters degree in education, was a teacher for 47 years when she retired. Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas died on May 13th 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in New York.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Night in Winter


Shut in from all the world without,
We sat in clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat's dark silhouette on the wall,
A couchant tiger's seemed to fall;

What matter how the night behaved!
What matter how the north-wind raved!
Blow high, blow low, not all it's snow
Could quench our hearth-fire's ruddy glow.

— John Greenleaf Whittier

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Tipperary Cup Centenary

In a recent edition of the Clonmel Nationalist, dated 24th November 2016, the following caption appeared under a photograph of the 1916 Committee of the Clonmel and Kilsheelan Coursing Club:
The first Tipperary Cup in coursing was held at Ballyglasheen, Kilsheelan on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 19th, 20th and 21st of January 1916 when Boys Hurrah beat Tablespoon in a thrilling final. 
The judge for the three day festival was Maurice F. Davin, nephew of the former President of the GAA, and Mullinahone man, Bob Redmond, handled the leathers. The Acting Stewards for the meeting came from Belfast, Tralee, Portumna, Dublin and Limerick together with T.A. Morris from Clonmel. The three days attracted a large crowd, including the Lord Lieutenant who had the pleasure of watching his runner qualify for the semi-finals of the feature event. Clonmel and Kilsheelan Coursing Club, in association with Clonmel & District Open Coursing Club, held this year's event on Saturday and Sunday 19th and 20th November.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Collapse of the Soviet Union

With the death of one of the last Communist dictators — former Cuban leader, Fidel Castro — it might be a good time to relate part of an article from Rodney Castleden's book Events that changed the World viz-a-viz the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Communism destroyed more lives than any other organisation or event in the 20th century, mainly through the murders of citizens by the regimes that were forced upon them. The casualties were often the consequence of the conflicts in which Soviet Union became involved as they attempted to spread the communist system throughout the world. Civil and human rights were denied while the socialist system of central control over food and goods production impoverished many people who weren't part of the top elite of the Communist hierarchy:
The world watched in amazement, in December of 1991, as the Soviet Union disintegrated into 15 separate countries. To the West, its collapse was seen as a victory for freedom, a triumph for democracy and evidence that capitalism was superior to socialism. The United States rejoiced as it witnessed its formidable enemy dropping to its knees, thereby ending the long struggle that become known as the Cold War. In fact the break up of the Soviet Union was so momentous it led to the reform of political, economical and military alliances all over the world. 
There were warning signs before the collapse, and many people picked up on this several years before its actual demise. Some of the member states within the Soviet Union sensed that the centre was weakening. The Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, started agitating for their independence. They were greatly heartened by Poland's success in gaining its independence. In January 1991, Soviet paratroopers were sent in following independence demonstrations; they stormed the television station in Vilnius, Lithuania, killing 13 independence demonstrators. A similar Russian raid on Riga in Latvia led to the killing of four demonstrators. In February, a referendum in Lithuania produced a majority in favour of independence from Russia. The following month referendums in Latvia and Estonia produced a similar result. 
The article goes on to relate how Soviet president, Gorbachev, tried to maintain the union by proposing a new federation giving member states greater autonomy. However, all countries of the former Soviet Union gradually broke free while adopting western standards of administration and democracy with free enterprise. Many became members of the EU and NATO.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Muhammad's Return to Mecca

With so much death and suffering going on in Muslim-dominated areas — and certain groups attempting to impose their understanding of Islam on the rest of us by tyrannical means — it might be an opportune time to reproduce the following article from a book called Events that changed the World by Rodney Castleden.
Muhammad claimed to be God's mouthpiece, but was extremely cautious in the way he asserted the claim. For three years his followers formed a secret society, and before that there was a revelation on Mount Hirah near Mecca. The earliest revelations took the form of solemn utterances which rhymed and were revealed only to his nearest relatives. He would speak in a trance and followers wrote down the utterances. The revelations would eventually make up the Qur'an. 
This early work was done in private within the family but, by the time Muhammad made his first appearance as a public preacher in Mecca in 616, he already had a united following. As he became more successful, some of his followers were persecuted and he found refuge for them in Axum. The Abyssinian king took the side of the refugees, apparently thinking that they were persecuted Christians — completely misunderstanding who and what they were. They were nevertheless being supported, and this diplomatic victory infuriated the Meccan leaders who blockaded Muhammad in one quarter of the city. 
Muhammad was glad, for his own safety, to have an invitation to go to Yathrib (later named Medina) as dictator; the citizens at Yathrib suffered from feuding and wanted an outsider to act as arbitrator. Accordingly he went into exile to Medina and 16 July 622 is taken as the start of the Muslim era.The Meccan authorities were alarmed at the prospect of a hostile regime in control at Medina, which lay on an important caravan route, and plans were laid to have Muhammad killed. The Prophet, as he came to be known, took temporary refuge in a cave, delaying his arrival at Medina until 20 September (the Jewish Day of Atonement) in 622. 
From this point on, Muhammad's power grew. He bound his followers to himself and then to one another by a range of ties, instituting brotherhoods. At first, Muhammad seems to have courted an alliance with the Jews, but found no possibility of compromise with them on religious questions. Islam began to evolve its distinct practices and customs to distinguish it clearly from other sects. The spread of Islam was swift and proof of conversion was reduced to a simple test, the expression of belief in Allah and Muhammad. 
He repelled an attempt by the Meccans to capture Medina. Mecca itself fell to Muhammad and his Islamic warriors in 629. It was an historic moment; the moment when Meccans had to recognise him as chief and prophet. Remarkably, within the year, Muhammad had control over the whole of Arabia. Islam was now firmly established as a religion of regional importance, and its future as one of the world's major religions was assured.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Sensational Irish Rugby Victory

Guinness Series:

Ireland 40; New Zealand 29

Last Saturday afternoon, on 5 November 2016, the Irish Rugby team achieved one of the greatest victories in Irish sporting history when they defeated the supreme aristocrats of the game, New Zealand's All Blacks, with a score line of 40 points to 29. This victory was achieved after 111 years of trying and ended New Zealand's current 18-game winning streak.

It is typical of an Irish team to achieve something spectacular when least expected. For me, this was reminiscent of Ronnie Delany's 1956 Olympic gold medal win in Melbourne, Australia and Tipperary's 2011 All-Ireland Minor Football win over Dublin.

The venue of last Saturday's game was also significant. Soldier Field is home to the Chicago Bears and is one of the Windy City's most famous landmarks. It was also one of the prime venues during the "Golden Age of Sports". On September 23, 1927, it hosted the epic Jack Dempsey/Gene Tunney heavyweight boxing rematch featuring the controversial long count as a crowd of 104,000 looked on. Having knocked down Tunney, Dempsey went to the wrong corner. By the time the referee directed him to the neutral corner, five seconds had passed before the count started. Tunney, the champ, got up at 9 (which should have been 14) and went on to defeat Dempsey.

In 1944, at the height of World War II, Soldier Field hosted 150,000 spectators for a wartime visit by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and, in 1962, thousands turned up at the same venue to hear evangelist Billy Graham. Soldier Field was also the birthplace of the first Special Olympic Games in 1968.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Great Win for Padraig Harrington

I was delighted to learn that likeable sportsman, Padraig Harrington, has won the Portugal Masters Golf Championship. This was the 31st win of his professional career and his 15th on the European tour.

Having won three golf majors in the mid 2000's — his last major win was the US PGA in 2008 — he went through a barren period when the victories just wouldn't come. His most recent win came in the Honda Classic in March last year.

Let us hope that this is a precursor to even more success before Padraig Harrington finally decides to rest on his laurels.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Fine Article by Ciaran Conlon

Ciaran Conlon's article in last Thursday's Irish Independent caught my attention. Published under the headline Despite it's Trump tactics, SF is likely to be big loser after Budget 2017, I will quote hereon some of the more pertinent passages:
Donal Trump has played on voters fears, insecurities and disaffections with government generally to run one of the most toxic, dishonest and dangerous political campaigns in history to bring himself and his moronic nonsense to the brink of the US presidency.
 In comparing Trump's campaign style with SF, Conlon writes
Both Trump and SF:
  • Insist that everything is going to hell, no progress is being made on anything — even though simple factual sources can disprove the thesis — and only a vote for them can save the country or fix your problems; 
  • Don't like their history being scrutinised, but still trade on a version of that history to play to target voters; 
  • Declare themselves to be passionate defenders of the 'ordinary voter' even though one was born into wealth and privilege and the others are apologists for terrorists who murdered 'ordinary' people and destroyed the communities of 'ordinary' workers; 
  • Have no interest in detailed plans or policies that can be implemented but prefer to campaign in broad brush strokes that play to existing fears and frustrations without ever thinking about the impact of their pronouncements; 
  • Would have a devastating impact on their countries if they got into government.
This is the most important aspect of the Trump/Sinn Fein approach to politics. It's combined 'bullying and bulls*****ing' style might win coverage, hoodwink a certain number of voters and put them close to real-life decision making in government. But we know it works out badly for the very voters that have been hoodwinked...
That's why the centre has to hold in Irish politics. And in a potentially good sign for those who want the centre to hold, Sinn Fein could be the big losers out of Budget 2017... 
Both larger centre parties now have an incentive to talk up — at least not to talk down — the successes of the Irish people and that means less air time and profile for Sinn Fein's constant rejection of any progress made by the Irish people...
The next election may take place in a very different environment to the last one. A degree of stability and incremental progress versus uncertainty and more Trump-style campaigning from Sinn Fein...
If the centre can hold over the coming period, an inelegant and hopefully temporary political solution may just do the country some service.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Ode to Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless.
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run,
To bend with apples the mossed cottage trees,
And fill all with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while they hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives and dies;
And full-grown lambs bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

— John Keats

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Labour Unrest

The present labour agitation at Dublin Bus is driven, to a large extent, by trade union leaders trying to justify their huge salaries and showing their claws.

Trade unions have no place amongst the major employers in this country where workers are well represented by committees. The weak position of the present government, due to the idiotic — and, in some cases, vindictive — voting patterns in the recent general election, has given extra leverage to the public sector trade unions.

I am old enough to remember the 1950's when employment in this country was provided, in the main, by inefficient state companies while young men and women were leaving in droves to work in the UK and further afield. The national debt rose rapidly to unsustainable levels and, despite the efforts of some governments in the intervening years, it has remained that way ever since.

In the 70's and 80's, trade unions caused much disruption in this country while taking their cue, to a large extent, from Militant Tendency in the UK. This anarchist group tried hard to destroy the British economy and would have succeeded except for the tough line taken by Margaret Thatcher and her government.

In this country, one trade union leader made the public comment that "company profits were unpaid wages!". This is a line drawn from the writings of German economist, Karl Marx, whose ideology sowed the seeds for a movement which wreaked death, terror and poverty on millions of people in Europe, Russia and beyond throughout most of the 20th century.

In the case of Dublin Bus, the government should heed the lessons of our thriving national bus network by gradually putting routes out to tender under fair and equitable conditions.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Mayo's Long Wait Goes On

All-Ireland SFC Final:

Dublin 2-09; Mayo 0-15

Mayo's 65-year wait for the return of 'Sam' has to be put in abeyance until Saturday, October 1st, when yesterday's drawn All-Ireland Senior Football final will be replayed at Croke Park.

In yesterday's game, Mayo were unfortunate to concede two goals that were deflected into the net by their own players. The first came after eight-and-a-half minutes as the ball rolled loose after Mayo goalkeeper, David Clarke, made a fine save. Dublin corner-forward, Bernard Brogan, drew on the ball with his left foot only to see it going wide. Unfortunately for Mayo, it struck the leg of their back-man, Kevin McLoughlin, and rolled into the corner of the net. In the 22nd minute, as Mayo centre-back Colm Boyle turned towards his own goal, he had the misfortune to strike the emerging ball with his foot and put it past his own keeper.

Mayo deserve great credit for recovering from these set backs. The wet conditions yesterday made the modern-day Croke Park very slippery — especially near the side-lines. The replay will be decided in favour of the team with the most "hunger" on the day.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Great Day for Tipperary

All-Ireland SHC Final:

Tipperary 2-29; Kilkenny 2-20

All-Ireland MHC Final:

Tipperary 1-21; Limerick 0-17

Having suffered defeats at the hands of Kilkenny in recent years, this win was especially sweet for the Tipperary senior hurlers. Their attitude seemed to be 'now or never' and this hunger morphed into fierce determination and work-rate throughout the field. Allied to skilled forward play — especially from the lethal inside trio —  it made Tipperary an unstoppable force on the day. Tipperary had stars throughout the team but two players stood out for me, namely Seamus Callanan and John O'Dwyer.

In the minor final Tipperary started as strong favourites having inflicted a 17 points defeat on the same opponents in the Munster final. It was a heavy mantle for Tipperary to carry with Limerick determined to make amends for their humiliation on the last occasion. The first half was one of swaying fortunes with little between the teams at half-time. An early second-half goal gave Tipperary breathing space which enabled them to finish out the game with a reasonably comfortable margin of victory.

I found it hard to believe that this was the first time since 1949 that Tipperary achieved the senior and minor double. 1949 brings back fond childhood memories. It was the first year that I have a memory of the Tipperary GAA campaign. The late Pat Stakelum, from the Holycross-Ballycahill club, led the senior hurlers to a final victory over Laois by 3-11 to 0-3. Goalkeeper John O'Grady, from the Moycarkey-Borris club, captained the minor hurlers to victory over Kilkenny

Monday, 29 August 2016

Hurling Final Odds and Ends

  • Longest Wait. First hurling champions, Tipperary, had to wait 25 years to collect their medals! In 1887 no provision had been made for expenditure on medals but, following the 1911 GAA convention, the Munster Council was instructed to devote £30 — a figure then owed to the Central Council — towards providing medals for the triumphant Tipp team who received them in December of the same year.
  • Shortest and Longest Reigns. The shortest reign as champions was two weeks achieved by Kilkenny who beat Cork by 7-7 to 2-9 in Dungarvan in 1905. A fortnight later they went down 1-14 to 0-5 to Dublin in the 1906 Leinster championship. Kilkenny also had the longest reign from September 2005 to September 2010.
  • Complete Set. Cork and Tipperary have won All-Ireland finals in 21-a-side competitions,17-a-side and 15-a-side. Hurling championships became 17-a-side in 1892 and changed to the present 15-a-side in 1913.
  • Clare's First Appearance in an All-Ireland hurling final was at Inchicore on Sunday, November 3, 1889 when they lost to Dublin by 1-6 to 1-5. And no wonder! According to contemporary accounts of the game, Clare players did not wear boots or stockings and were "unable to adapt to the slippery ground conditions".
  • Limerick's Bob McConkey was the first recipient of the Liam McCarthy Cup following his side's 8-5 to 3-2 win in the 1921 final. The "new" McCarthy Cup was presented to Liam Fennelly after Kilkenny's 3-10 to 1-12 win over Cork in 1992. This completed a unique double for Fennelly who captained his county to win the "old" trophy when beating Cork 2-14 to 2-12 in 1983.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Great Campaign comes to a Halt

All-Ireland SFC Semi-final:

Mayo 2-13; Tipperary 0-14

In yesterday's All-Ireland senior football semi-final in Croke Park, Tipperary led Mayo by 6 points to 3 after 25 minutes. Then, what I describe as a "blind pass" — a side pass without a proper view of where the ball is going — gave possession to Mayo from which they scored an opportunistic goal. They followed this with 7 points to Tipperary's 1 to lead at the break by 1-10 to 0-7.

Tipperary, to their great credit, reduced the margin to 2 points by the third quarter until a second Mayo goal ended the game as a contest. Mayo substitute, Evan Regan, lost his footing as he was about to shoot for a point but managed to strike the ball with some part of his foot. It trickled through to the edge of the small square where the loitering Conor O'Shea had the easy task of shooting to the net.


With a little luck Tipperary would have been much closer at the finish; with a lot of luck they could have got over the line! Maybe it was for the best. Tipperary are still not ready to take on the Kerries and Dublins of this world; although they played to the best of their ability in all of their games as underdogs. Mayo have the capacity to raise their game to a much higher level which I hope they will do and go on to win their first All-Ireland since 1951.

The true Tipperary Gaels, who have done so much in recent years to restore Tipperary to football eminence, cannot rest on their laurels. They cannot merely do the same things again and expect a different result. Great work in the restoration has been accomplished, but it is only at foundation level and must be built upon. A plan should be drawn up taking on board the views of anyone that matters. A greater effort should be made to activate the game throughout the county, especially in the three big towns that presently only promote the game at under-age level. The club championships should be made as competitive as possible and completed in a reasonable time. Only top-level coaching from juvenile-level up should be entertained.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Tipp Squeeze Tight Win

All-Ireland SHC Semi-final:

Tipperary 2-19; Galway 2-18

Yesterday's senior hurling semi-final at Croke Park was one of swaying fortunes. Tipperary started slightly on top, but Galway got right into it when they scored a fortuitous goal as a result of a very dangerous gambit by a Tipperary defender — an attempted pass over-the-shoulder. Tipperary had a dominant spell after about a quarter of an hour with four unanswered points, but Galway finished the half strongly to lead by two points at half-time.

The second half was tit-for-tat most of the way until Galway scored a second goal which gave them a three point lead. The introduction of John O'Dwyer gave Tipperary a great boost. He scored a fine goal himself and drew the fire away from Seamus Callanan and John McGrath resulting in the latter scoring a vital Tipp goal within minutes of the first. Galway were still attacking at the end but time ran out for them. They suffered the loss of two key players, including the great Joe Canning through injury at half-time.

Tipperary will need to be far more assertive and confident to oust Kilkenny in the final.

Monday, 1 August 2016

History in the Making

All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final:

Tipperary 3-13; Galway 1-10

Who would have believed it? Tipperary are now through to an All-Ireland Senior Football semi-final for the first time since their harrowing defeat to Cavan in 1935 (as I chronicled here). While a narrow victory would have been a most pleasant result for the loyal supporters who travelled to Croke Park yesterday, the manner and margin of the win demands the use of superlatives.

Unsurprisingly, Tipperary started tentatively allowing Galway to build up a four-points lead. The blue and gold machine then got into gear, notching up 1-06 without reply. Galway rallied and, with the help of a powerfully-driven goal, reduced the margin to three points at half-time. The first ten minutes of the second-half decided the outcome when Tipperary produced two goals, coolly taken by the rangy Conor Sweeney from Ballyporeen. Tipperary didn't score for the last 19 minutes and Galway added a mere two points as the tempo of the game slackened greatly. The final whistle brought jubilant Tipperary supporters onto the pitch where they celebrated loudly with players and management for more than 20 minutes. While not taking anything from Tipperary's famous victory, the Galway team greatly under-performed. They seemed to freeze every time Tipperary scored a goal and, when they conceded the third goal, they gave up the ghost.

Prior to the game I felt that Tipperary had a lot of potential in the forward line, but I was fearful that their backs would be unable to cope with the Galway forwards who showed great potency in the replayed Connacht final. The backs stuck manfully to their task while the forwards displayed a wide range of skills with centre-half forward, Kevin O'Halloran, contributing nobly. Kevin, along with Philip Austin and George Hannigan, should be presented with special medals by the GAA in recognition of the standard they have achieved despite having to hone their skills in the football wilderness of North Tipperary.

Tipperary have produced many outstanding footballers down the years, but the teams lacked one essential ingredient and that is 'confidence'. This team has it in spades and, in the upcoming semi-final against Tyrone or Mayo, they should give it a real go.

The best of luck to them.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Wonderful Tipperary Win

All-Ireland Senior Football Qualifiers:

Tipperary 1-21;  Derry 2-17

Every loyal Tipperary supporter will be filled with joy following the county's one point win in last evening's game played at Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan. Tipperary are now through to the All-Ireland Senior Football quarter-finals for the first time in the modern era.

Tipp captain, Peter Acheson, celebrates with manager, Liam Kearns 
While every notable win by a football team representing the county is cherished, this victory will rank in the top echelon when one considers: the unavailability of leading players before the start of the competition (as already chronicled); the rather heavy defeat to Kerry in the Munster final following a historic victory over Cork; and the unfair distance the team had to travel to fulfil this challenging fixture.

Playing with the breeze, Tipperary started well and led by four points until they were rocked back by a Derry goal and found themselves a point behind at half-time. An extra effort was needed in the second-half and it was forthcoming, boosted by a goal from Kevin O'Halloran who availed of a poor Derry kick-out. On the 65 minute mark Tipperary led by five points, but Derrry weren't finished and scored a goal and three points to take the lead. True heart was needed and it came in the form of a strapping lad from Ballyporeen, Conor Sweeney, whose trusty left foot drove over two late points to clinch a famous victory.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Big Wins for Tipperary

Munster SHC Final:

Tipperary 5-19; Waterford 0-13

Munster MHC final:

Tipperary 1-24; Limerick 0-10

Prior to yesterday's senior hurling final at rain-sodden Limerick Gaelic grounds, nobody would have predicted that there would be a margin of 21 points separating the sides at the end of the game. Waterford had slightly the better of matters for the first fifteen minutes. With the wind at their backs, they missed a few chances for points; Tipperary got an opportunist goal and Waterford confidence began to wilt. When Tipperary got a second goal shortly after half-time, Waterford collapsed as Tipperary confidence rocketed with victory in sight and the breeze at their backs. It was a demoralising defeat for the young skillful players on the Waterford team and they will require very intelligent managing to raise their morale for their next outing.

Tipperary showed more determination than in their previous matches. They didn't engage in unnecessary passing; and they refrained, a great deal, from using their arms to stop an opponent's progress. Much sterner tests lay ahead.

The minor final also produced a very surprising margin of victory for Tipperary — nobody would have predicted that either team would win by 17 points. In the first round, Tipperary lost to Waterford at Walsh Park. They regrouped to beat Clare at Ennis in the loser's group play-off. In the semi-final they produced a virtuoso last 25 minutes to turn a six-point deficit into a six point win against Cork at Pairc Ui Rinn.

I was very pleased that, for the first time, the South Tipperary division provided the largest number of players to a championship winning Tipperary hurling team with six in the first fifteen and dynamic sub, Dylan Walsh, contributing greatly. Included among the six was my fellow parishioner Mark Kehoe from the Kilcash-Kilsheelan club.

Hopefully they can go all the way.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Democracy in Wrong Hands

The vote by the British electorate to leave the European Union has sent economic shock-waves around the world. Countries within the Union are more seriously concerned — especially our own. Ireland relies heavily on exports and any tremors in our market countries affect us greatly. The UK is our biggest purchaser of goods, especially agricultural produce. They are now in a situation where they are not subject to common market rules and can purchase their goods wherever possible. It is imperative for Ireland that the EU strikes a trade deal with the UK as soon as possible.

On the positive side, this result may increase foreign direct investment into Ireland much of which in the past would have gone to the UK.

There are many reasons why people vote in a particular way: it could be based on mature, responsible thinking; or being completely influenced by others — especially the media; or vindictiveness by people who feel marginalized and are very anti-establishment.

Let us hope that the doomsday scenario can be avoided.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Tipp through to Munster Final

Munster SHC Semi-Final: 

Tipperary 3-12; Limerick 1-16

Tipperary senior hurlers withstood a late Limerick goal, and the loss of a man to a red card after 14 minutes, to qualify for the Munster final following today's game at Semple Stadium, Thurles. The wet conditions before, and at times during the game, led to some scrappy play. Tipperary played well but spoilt their good work through faulty, and at times unnecessary, hand passing. Some of their players have a tendency to use their arm to stop an opponent's progress thereby conceding simple scores from frees.

Limerick hadn't much to offer, yet if they had got their goal with more time remaining, they could have snatched a win. Tipperary were lucky to have the cushion of two early opportunist goals helped by the slippery conditions. It indicates that they have plenty of work to do before taking on Waterford in the Munster final on July 10th.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Famous Tipperary Win

Munster SFC Semi-Final

Tipperary 3-15; Cork 2-16

Yesterday, at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary achieved their first senior football championship win over Cork since 1944 which brought joy to the hearts of every true Tipperary supporter.

Depleted by the loss of key players — particularly Colin O'Riordan, Seamus Kennedy and Stephen O'Brien who would rank with the best in the land — the Tipperary team was given little hope against a Cork side anxious to atone for recent disappointments.

Availing of poor Cork defending, Tipperary built up a nine point lead. When Cork got back on level terms, thanks to a ricochet goal, things were looking ominous. To their credit, Tipperary got the vital points from a forty-five and a free by Kevin O'Halloran who represents a club which had no adult Gaelic Football team last year.

Reverting back to 1944, Tipperary beat Waterford by 1-10 to 0-5 in the first round of the Munster championship. They then surprised Cork in the semi-final by beating them by 1-9 to 1-3. Tipperary had a well-trained team which included a number of players serving with the Irish Army at Templemore and Clonmel barracks. The Munster final, played in atrocious weather conditions at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, was won by Kerry 1-6 to 0-5. Due to the great mid-field displays of 18-year-old Mick Cahill and Bunny Lamb, the Tipperary forwards enjoyed a lot of possession but their shooting was off target on the day.

There have many near misses against the big guns down the years with the notable exception of the glorious All-Ireland Minor victory in 2011. Let us hope that the time is near for the seniors to reach the holy grail.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Great Irish Rugby Wins

Rugby U-20 World Cup

Ireland 33;  New Zealand 24

Ireland's under-20 rugby team, under manager Nigel Carolan, became the first men's team representing the country to beat New Zealand's All Blacks. This afternoon, at Manchester City Academy Stadium, they had an emphatic victory over the current world champions whose country is the king-pin of international rugby. Max Deegan got the match-winning try. While there were heroes throughout the team, the great place-kicking of Bill Johnston and the superb Irish pack proved decisive.

International Test Series

South Africa 20; Ireland 26

Today, 14-man Ireland beat the Springboks on South African soil for the first time in front of 42,000 stunned fans at Newlands. Paddy Jackson, who played superbly at fly-half, kicked a drop-goal to level the score at the break; he also converted three penalty kicks as well as tries by Jared Payne and Conor Murray.

While I am primarily a GAA person, I have great affection for Irish Rugby whose teams unite the whole island.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Important Wins for Tipperary

Munster SFC Quarter Final:

Waterford 1-07; Tipperary 1-15

Munster JFC Quarter Final:

Waterford 0-15; Tipperary 0-16 (AET)

In yesterday's games, played at Dan Fraher field in Dungarvan, Tipperary trailed by 3 points with 10 minutes to go in the junior game but managed to draw level at full-time. They went on to squeeze a win by the minimum after extra time.

Waterford started strongly in the senior game and had three points on the board before Tipperary got off the mark. The influence of George Hannigan, making a welcome return after injury, was very important. He contributed some fine points from distance. The skillful Michael Quinlivan, at full-forward, put in his usual effective shift.

These victories are important. In recent years, we have made great progress at under-age level in restoring Gaelic Football to it's rightful place. This is down to the work of true-blue Tipperary people in the face of an anti-Gaelic Football mentality that is still prominent within the county. I am referring particularly to the types who will trawl their rubbish in local newspapers but will quickly absent themselves when the hurlers are going through a bad spell. I have had ample experience of this, having supported Tipperary teams, playing both the big and small ball, for more than 60 years.

The Tipperary football management faced great difficulties this year with up to 11 players unavailable because of a pernicious edict that does not allow players to play both Gaelic Codes for their county. This was compounded by absences due to injury and emigration. Waterford have always had fine Gaelic footballers, with club competition of a high standard. They also face many difficulties similar to Tipperary. I wish them well.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Tipperary's Easy Win

Munster SHC Quarter Final:

Tipperary 0-22; Cork 0-13

This hurling game, played today at Semple Stadium in Thurles, was somewhat scrappy and lacked intensity. This was mainly due to the heavy rain showers that were fairly constant throughout the game and also by the modern style of play.

Tipperary led the game from start to finish — Cork never got closer than seven points. In the first half, with the breeze behind them, the Tipp backs dominated the game. They were ably led by the Maher brothers, Cathal Barrett and Michel Cahill, with newcomer Seamus Kennedy and James Barry not far behind. In the forward line, Seamus Callanan was nearly back to his best at full-forward with John O'Dwyer and the McGrath brothers also showing fine touches. Championship newcomers, Sean Curran and Dan McCormack, can also be happy with their contributions.

Tipperary will be pleased with the win, but much sterner tests lie ahead. Cork never came-to-grips with the game and will need to up their performance considerably if they are to make an impression in the qualifiers.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Birthday

Last Thursday, on May 12th, I had an unexpected call from a lovely lady, Ethel Walsh, who lives about a mile from me. Ethel asked if I would like to attend a little celebration the following evening to honour the 80th birthday of her father, Paddy Power.

I have known Paddy for more than 60 years and always held him in high esteem. We would not meet very often, as is the way with the world, but would concur on many matters of public interest.

On yesterday's pleasant May evening, after a hot sunny day, I attended a grand ceremony in Grangemockler Church, administered by Fr. Gear, with beautiful singing by Mala Ragget accompanied by organist Tony Egan. I stood outside the Church afterwards and greeted Paddy for a short while as he had many wanting to shake his hand. I also greatly enjoyed meeting a lady, whom I have always held in high regard, Nonie Freaney, who maintains the old pub tradition in nearby Nine-mile-house.

Maybe the following poem would somehow be appropriate for the occasion:
The Light of Other Days 
Oft in the stilly night
Ere slumber's chain has bound me,
Fond memory brings the light
Of other days around me:
The smiles, the tears
Of boyhood's years,
The words of love then spoken;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimmed and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken!
Thus in the stilly night
Ere slumber's chain has bound me,
Sad memories bring the light
Of other days around me.
         
When I remember all
The friends so link'd together
I've seen around me fall
Like leaves in wintry weather,
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,    
Whose garlands dead
And all but he departed!
Thus in the stilly night
Ere slumber's chain has bound me,
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me. 
— Thomas Moore

Monday, 9 May 2016

Dramatic Clare Win

National Hurling League Division 1 Final:

Clare 1-23, Waterford 2-19

Yesterday's replayed National Hurling league final played at Semple Stadium, Thurles, had a cruel twist in the end for Waterford. The Decies led throughout the game until the 71st minute. The Clare equalizer came from a colossal free more than 80 yards from the Waterford goal struck by the brilliant Tony Kelly. The puck-out was grabbed by a Clare player, following the usual scramble; he struck the ball to the right wing where the same Tony Kelly got possession and, though under pressure, he struck over the winning point at a sharp angle from his weaker right side.

The standard of play was at a higher level than in the drawn game. Both teams contain many skilful hurlers. Clare undo a lot of good possession by excessive use of long passing — always a dangerous gambit. They conceded the second goal through a very poorly directed long cross-field pass when there was ample opportunity to dispatch the ball to their opponents 21 yard mark. This was at a time when Clare had been getting on top after a bad start when they conceded a number of early scores. Waterford seemed to tire near the end giving Clare a bit more space to pick off points which they are well capable of doing. Their outstanding players on the day were the Nire's Austin Gleeson and Dungarvan's Patrick Curran. Conor McGrath was an excellent forward for Clare as well as the great Tony Kelly.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Cherbobyl

The World's Worst Nuclear Disaster

The worst disaster of the brutal Soviet Communist regime occurred in the early hours of April 26, 1986, when a botched test at the nuclear plant in then Soviet Ukraine triggered a meltdown that spewed deadly clouds of atomic material into the atmosphere, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.

Thirty-one plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the accident, most from acute radiation sickness.

Over the past three decades, thousands more have succumbed to radiation-related illnesses such as cancer, although the total death toll and long-term health effects remain subject of intense debate.

The anniversary has garnered extra attention due to the imminent completion of a giant 1.5 billion Euro (1.7 billion Dollar) steel-clad arch that will enclose the stricken reactor site and prevent further leaks for the next 100 years. The project was funded with donations from more than 40 governments. Even with the new structure 1,000 square miles of forest and marshland, on the border of Ukraine and Belarus, will remain uninhabitable and closed to unsanctioned visitors.

The disaster, and the government's reaction to it, highlighted the flaws of the Soviet system with its unaccountable bureaucrats and entrenched culture of secrecy. For example, the evacuation order only came 36 hours after the accident.

Chernobyl Children's Project International was founded in Ireland in 1991 by Adi Roche in response to an appeal from Ukrainian an Belarusian doctors for aid. Roche, previously a volunteer in a nuclear disarmament group, received a fax in 1991 which read SOS Appeal. For God's sake, please help us get the children out. This inspired her to take action and that same year, she set up a small workspace in a spare bedroom in her home and began organising Rest and Recuperation for a few Chernobyl children, recruiting Irish families who would welcome and care for them, CCPI began in Ireland in 1991 and expanded into the United States in 2001. It changed its name to Chernobyl Children International in 2010. The organization has grown from strength to strength and is now the largest contributor to Belarus and the fallout from Chernobyl. It works closely with the Belarusian government, the United Nations and many thousand volunteers in Ireland, Belarus and worldwide to deliver a broad range of supports to the children and the wider community.

To date, Chernobyl Children's contributions exceed 91 million dollars in direct and indirect aid, and the Rest and Recuperation program has brought over 22,000 children to Ireland, returning an average of two years to each child's lifespan.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

William Shakespeare

English Poet and Dramatist

William Shakespeare (1564 — 1616), born 452 years ago on this day was the world's supreme creative literary genius. Little is known of his life. While his birth date is conjectural, he was baptised in the parish church of Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564. His father, John Shakespeare, was a dealer in agricultural produce in that town; his mother, Mary Arden, was a farmer's daughter. William, their third, but eldest surviving child, is thought to have been educated at Stratford Grammar School, to have left in his fourteenth year, and (traditionally) to have been apprenticed to a butcher. In 1852, in his 19th year, he married Ann Hathaway, daughter of a farmer of Shottery whose cottage, still preserved, is now called Ann Hathaway's cottage. She was Shakespeare's senior by eight years. A daughter, Susanna, was born within six months of the marriage, and twins (Hamnet and Judith) in 1585. Hamnet died in his 12th year, but the daughters both survived their father. Shakespeare moved to London in 1887 and found employment in the theatre at Shoreditch, the only playhouse then existing. He was soon admitted as a member of a company of players to which he remained faithful for the rest of his career.

Turning playwright, Shakespeare revealed unique powers of characterisation and mastery of dramatic speech in both verse and prose, with 37 plays assigned to him in his lifetime. In 1597, he purchased New Place, the second largest house in Stratford, and retired there in 1611. He died at New Place and was buried in the Chancel of Stratford church.

Thousands of books have been written about Shakespeare and his works. His plays are acted and studied more than any other dramatist in history

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Formation of Government

The present impasse in the forming of a government is almost totally as a result of electors voting for 'Independents' in such large numbers. The reasons why people vote for Independents varies — some because they think it will benefit their own locality if that independent is in a bargaining position to lever something from those hoping to form a government  — the 'Healy-Rae syndrone'; some more because of a personal attachment to a particular candidate; while others do it to be anti-establishment.

There cannot be a stable government when a large number of Independents are elected, all with personal agendas. Independent T.D.'s interest in government formation goes no further than what is best for them personally. They oppose everything that is unpopular, even if such a measure is best for society as a whole. They bleat the populace rant knowing that they are never going to bear the responsibility for their actions. The people who vote for them are complicit in this masquerade.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Surrender

The following is taken from the Evening Herald dated April 26 to May 4 1916, and reproduced in The Evening Herald of Tuesday April 12, 1966:
To Avoid Further Slaughter
We are asked officially to give the utmost publicity to the following document, signed by P.H. Pearse, who was described as being "The leader of the rebels"and bearing date 29th:- 
 "In order to prevent further slaughter of unarmed people, and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, members of the Provisional Government present at Headquarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender, and the commander of all units of the Republican Force will order their followers to lay down their arms." 
The Co. Inspector also published on April 30th an announcement that "James Connolly and other Sinn Fein leaders have unconditionally surrendered to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in Ireland" 
Germany's "Assistance"
In a communication posted at Ballymun R.I.C. station on the evening of the 29th.April intimating, on behalf of the Irish command, the progress of military operations in the city, it was stated that "Roger Casement has declared that Germany has sent all the assistance she is going to send, which assistance is now at the bottom of the sea".

Monday, 4 April 2016

Creditable Draw by Tipp Footballers

National Football League, Division 3:

Sligo 0-18; Tipperary 3-09

Tipperary footballers showed commendable heart and spirit to finish strongly and earn a 3-09 to 0-18 draw with Sligo at Markievicz Park yesterday. Sligo led by 0-18 to 2-08 with two minutes remaining but a late Alan Moloney goal, and a later point, ensured a share of the spoils. Following a tight first half, Sligo held a 0-10 to 2-03 interval lead, with Michael Quinlivan and Peter Acheson netting Tipperary goals and Acheson giving the visitors their second goal after converting a 22nd minute penalty. The sides were tied on four occasions after the restart and although Sligo kicked on with Niall Murphy and Kyle Cawley, impressive,Tipperary fought hard to carve out a draw.

Football in Tipperary is striving against the tide down the years. The county has had, and still has, great people who work hard to promote the game and try to produce teams of the best possible standard to compete in all grades of inter-county competitions. The county continues to produce players capable of holding their own with the best in the land. Many GAA clubs in the county contain individuals who attend divisional and county board meetings and their attitudes to Tipperary football are at best disinterest and cynicism and, in some cases, even hostility. I cannot understand how anyone with those attitudes could call themselves GAA or Tipperary people.

This year, the manager of the Tipperary minor hurling team has ruled that no player will be allowed to play minor football for Tipperary if the want to be included in the minor hurling panel — a new kind of ban — even if playing all grades of hurling and football with their clubs. Two leading members of the Tipperary senior football team were included in a hurling panel of 40 at the beginning of the National League thus denying the footballers the use of their services even though neither player was even listed among the subs on the hurling panel until yesterday when one of them was introduced four minutes from the final whistle of the defeat to Clare.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Doomed Leader's Wedding

The following news item is taken from the Nationalist Newspaper, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, published on 10th May 1916 (Easter Week) and reproduced in the 'Nationalist' dated March 31st 2016:
 
A pathetic incident has to be recorded in connection with the execution of Mr. Joseph Plunkett, one of the insurgent leaders, who was shot Thursday morning in accordance with the sentence of the Court Martial. 
On Wednesday evening an attractive looking young lady entered Mr. Stoker's jewellery establishment, 22 Grafton Street, and said she wished to purchase a wedding ring. Mr. Stoker, observing that she seemed to be labouring under strong emotion, expressed the hope that she was not in any trouble. The young lady, who made a gallant attempt to preserve her composure, replied that she was the fiancée of Mr. Plunkett, who was to be shot the following morning, and her marriage to him was to take place the day before his death. 
Mr. Stoker, who was thunderstruck by such a startling statement, expressed his deep sympathy, and the young lady, having quietly thanked him, selected a ring and departed. 
The 'Irish Times' of Thursday contained the following announcement:
PLUNKETT and GIFFORD — May 3rd.,1916, at Dublin, Joseph Plunkett to Grace Gifford.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Redmond View of 1916 Rising

The following is taken from The Evening Herald Newspaper of Tuesday, April 12, 1966 in recasting the events surrounding Easter Week, 1916, in particular the views of John Redmond M.P., leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party and champion of Home Rule:
WICKED AND INSANE
Mr. Redmond on Revolt 
John Redmond (1856 — 1918)
In a statement with regard to the Dublin events, Mr. J. Redmond M.P. says his first feeling on hearing of the insane movement was one of horror, discouragement, and almost despair. He asked himself was the insanity of a small section once again to turn all of Ireland's recent marvellous victories into irreparable defeat, sending her back into another long night of slavery, suffering, and struggle.
After a reference to Ireland's choice when the war came, and the sufferings of small nationalities at the hands of Germany, he asked: "is there a sane man in Ireland who does not see this (hostility to the cause of the Allies) meant the drowning of the newly-won liberties of Ireland in Irish blood? Be these views right or wrong, this was the view of the overwhelming majority of the Irish people; it was the opinion which thousands of Irish soldiers have sealed with their blood by dying in the cause of the liberty of Ireland and of the world.
"Surely I need not argue the principle, especially with anybody who professes himself to be a Home Ruler, that the policy of Ireland must be decided by Ireland herself. That doctrine has been contested only by the very same men who today have tried to make Ireland the cat's paw of Germany. In all our long and successful struggle to obtain Home Rule we have been thwarted and opposed by the same section. We have won Home Rule not through them, but in spite of them. This wicked move of theirs was their last blow at Home Rule".
He says that this blow was plotted, organised, and paid for by Germany, and was a German invasion of Ireland as brutal and cynical as that of Belgium. Misguided and insane young Irishmen rushed and lost their lives, while those who sent them into that insane anti-patriotic movement remained safely in America.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Pascal Fire of Patrick

On Tara's hill the daylight dies,
On Tara's plain 'tis dead.
"Till Baal's unkindled fires shall rise
No fire must flame instead".

'Tis thus the king, commanding, speaks,
Commands and speaks in vain;
For lo! a fire defiant breaks
From out the woods of Slane.

For there, in prayer, is Patrick bent,
With Christ his soul is knit;
And there, before his simple tent,
The Pascal fire is lit.

"What means this flame that through the night
illumines all the vale?
What rebel hand a fire dare light
Before the fires of Baal?"

"O King! when Baal's dark reign is o'er,
When thou thyself art gone,
This fire will light the Irish shore
And lead its people on;

Will lead them on full many a night
Through which they're doomed to go,
Like that which led the Israelite
From bondage and from woe.

This fire, this sacred fire of God,
Young hearts shall bear afar
To lands no human foot hath trod,
Beneath the Western Star;

To lands where Faith's bright flag unfurled
By those who here have knelt
Shall give unto a newer world
The sceptre of the Celt".

— D.F. McCarthy                 

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Sad Day For Ireland

As the results of the General Election emerge, it appears that this country is going to be plunged into a chaotic situation in which neither of the two main parties have sufficient numbers to form a government.

The outgoing government came to power when the country was in a disastrous economic state. The way they have turned the economy around is the envy of other countries all over the world. They have, of course, had to take harsh decisions. Over the past two years, "pay-back" has started; admittedly at a low rate, but the economy was on target to be fully restored within a few years when further easing would follow. Public services, such as health and justice, would benefit from the increased cash flow that only a healthy economy could deliver.

Yet the people have sacrificed the recovery for "pie in the sky".

When Fianna Fáil was established ninety years ago, they built up a base of support from cottiers and council house dwellers, many of them with an illusory notion of "republicanism" and a mental antipathy towards anyone they perceived to have an advantage over them. This base remained loyal to Fianna Fáil down the decades. However, when things got very bad there would be a slight shift, leaving Fine Gael and The Labour Party with the unenviable task of forming a government on a slim majority while having no option but to introduce harsh measures to restore the economy. At the next election, the electoral backlash would return Fianna Fáil to power just in time to reap the benefits of an improved economy. In this way, they have been able to dominate things, governing for almost twenty uninterrupted years on a number of occasions.

In this election, the electorate have not returned to Fianna Fail except in a small measure, but have spread their votes to disparate Independents who would never be in a position to form a government.

I feel sorry for the decent voters who were willing to give the outgoing Fine Gael/Labour government a chance to finish the job.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Disappointing Defeat for Tipperary

National Hurling League Div 1A Round 2:

Kilkenny 2-17; Tipperary 0-18

Tipperary suffered a disappointing 5 points defeat in yesterday's game against Kilkenny, played at Nowlan Park, when the latter struck for two late goals. This defeat, following a good win over Dublin the previous weekend plus the fact that Kilkenny have had little intensive training so far, is a setback for Tipperary.

The losers missed at least three good goal-scoring chances due to a lack of cuteness in the art of striking and placing the ball. The backs were at fault for the two goals due to poor positioning. Some players made some wild challenges resulting in frees and a raising of morale for the opposition rather than tight contact without fouling.

The obvious lack of thought in the poor structuring of Tipperary club competitions down the years, coupled with what seems to be a poor level of coaching from under-age up, has been the prime cause of the stop-start nature of Tipperary hurling, especially at senior level, since the great days of the 50's and 60's. The sad demise of the art of ground and air-striking, which was always Tipperary's forte, is another contributing factor.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Another Great Win for High School

Corn Ui Mhuiri Munster Schools Senior A Football Semi-Final:

Clonmel High School 1-10; St. Francis College, Rochestown 0-7

Clonmel High School's great campaign in this year's Munster Colleges Senior A Football competition advanced further yesterday at Fermoy GAA ground where they defeated Rochestown College, Cork in the semi-final. The adverse weather made conditions difficult for both sides but Clonmel set about their task from the start and built a half-time lead of 1-8 to 0-3 having had the assistance of the breeze. With the wind strengthening in the second half the Cork side were expected to eat into this lead, but the Clonmel side's backs stood firm and scores were hard-earned spurring High School on to fine victory. They now have the mammoth task, at the end of the month, of taking on the form team of the competition, mighty St. Brendan's college, Killarney in the final.

Clonmel High School should draw inspiration from the deeds of the Tipperary minor footballers in 2011 and the victories of Tipperary's Under-21 footballers over Cork and Dublin last year. They can carve their own piece of history by being the second Tipperary team to win the competition following the lone success of their predecessors from the school in 1928.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

History Repeating

With an election looming, this is an appropriate time to revisit a Sunday Independent article from December 23, 2001 by John A. Murphy, Emeritus Professor of Irish History at University College Cork. Professor Murphy wrote the article following a visit to Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, by Gerry Adams and his party's attempts to gain maximum publicity in this country and across the Irish Sea.

The following is a brief extract:
...With the imminent prospect here of a general election in which Sinn Fein is expected to do well, nobody should be under any illusions about that party. Its members are still ambivalent about their commitment to parliamentary democracy. For the foreseeable future, they are likely to have a military wing, with all that implies for exercising extra-parliamentary clout and muscle. 
The President of Sinn Fein has referred to the illegal and anti-constitutional IRA as "a people's army...responsive to their needs and enjoying their genuine allegiance". Sinn Fein is in government in the North, but nevertheless orchestrated violent protest in South Armagh against the new police service a fortnight ago. In North Kerry, vigilante activity has once again reared its ugly head. 
The lesson is clear. In a tight parliamentary situation after the general election, any prospective government must rule out Sinn Fein not only as a component of coalition, but also as a supporting extra-coalition "independent" group. 
I want to avail of the opportunity to add my own rider: when voters go to the polls in the forthcoming General Election, not alone should they take the sentiments expressed in the above article on board but they should also refrain from having the country held to ransom by Bolshevik-loving and other anarchic-type candidates who are offering themselves for election.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Great Win for Clonmel High School

Corn Ui Mhuiri Munster Colleges Senior A Football Quarter-Final:

Clonmel High School 1-11; Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig 1-08

The Corn Ui Mhuiri quarter final, played at the Waterford Institute of Technology All-Weather ground in Carriganore, resulted in a great win for Clonmel High School. No other Tipperary school has advanced so far in this competition for many decades and every true Tipperary Gael will wish them further success. Clonmel High School are in fact the only Tipperary winners of this competition which was achieved in 1928 — the second occasion on which it took place. A number of players from that team were members of successful Tipperary football teams in the early 1930's, including the 1935 senior football team who were beaten in the All-Ireland Semi-final as a result of a controversial last-second goal by eventual All-Ireland winners Cavan.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Billy Quinn R.I.P.

I was very sad to learn of the death of former Tipperary hurler, Billy Quinn. Billy was born at Rossestown, Thurles in 1935. He was an outstanding under-age hurler winning minor All-Ireland titles with Tipperary in 1951 and '52. His brother Dick and cousin Liam also played in 1952. He played his club hurling with Rahealty, which is in Thurles parish, and competed at under-age level in Tipperary competitions at that time.

He made his competitive senior debut with Tipperary hurlers in the National League Semi-Final against Galway at Thurles sportsfield — as it was then known — on the last Sunday of April 1954. Tipperary won on the day and it was the first time I had seen Tipperary senior hurlers in action. Billy's direct opponent that day was veteran Galway right-full back Colm Corless. The National League final against Kilkenny was played at Croke Park on the following Sunday. I have a clear recollection of the day; it was wet, windy and sleety; Billy was surprisingly placed at full-forward where he proceeded to score three goals against veteran Kilkenny full-back, Paddy (Diamond) Hayden, allowing Tipperary to go on to gain an easy victory. He was unfortunate in his senior hurling career in that it came after the great Tipperary victories between 1949 and 1952 and before their great years in the 1960's.

Billy was forced to seek employment outside Tipperary — first in Dublin, and later in England. He returned to play with the Faughs club in Dublin and also with Dublin senior hurlers.

Billy has lived for more than 30 years in Killenaule parish from where his wife, Mary hails. Mary's late brother, Ned, played on the Munster winning Tipperary senior hurlers of 1941, beating the already crowned All-Ireland champions Cork in the Munster final. The match was played in Thurles in October of that year — the delay was due to restrictions placed on travel from Tipperary owing to foot and mouth disease.

Billy's son, Niall, played at right-full-forward on the losing Dublin side against Galway in the All-Ireland minor hurling final of 1983. He went on to become one of Ireland's greatest International soccer players.

May Billy's gentle soul rest in peace.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Battle of Ashbourne

Having read last week an Irish Independent account of the so-called Battle of Ashbourne, I felt I should re-produce a contemporaneous account from the Evening Herald during that eventful period. The incident occurred on April 28, 1916 when Fingal Volunteers under the command of Thomas Ashe attacked the RIC barracks at Ashbourne, Co. Meath.
FATAL COUNTY MEATH FIGHT 
Seven policemen killed 
A body of about 400 Sinn Feiners or Sinn Fein sympathisers were reported on Tuesday, May 2nd, to have made their way from the Dublin direction into Co.Meath, where they attacked and captured some small police stations at Ashbourne and Kilmoon, bordering on Co. Dublin. These outrages were perpetrated on the previous Friday. 
The affair at Kilmoon was very grave. Constable Inspector Gray was shot through both hands and part of the body; District-Inspector Smyth, of Navan, was twice wounded, and he and Sergeant Young, of Killyon, were afterwards shot dead. A chauffeur named Kepp was shot in the leg by an explosive bullet, and the leg was subsequently amputated in the Meath County Infirmary, but the patient died next morning. Eighteen constables and two other chauffeurs were wounded. Two sergeants and two constables were shot dead. 
The rebels took possession of the police rifles and seized some of their equipment. The police fought until their last cartridge had been expended. They then surrendered and the wounded were driven to Navan. District-Inspector Smyth was buried in Ardbraccan churchyard on Monday May 1st. His funeral, and the funerals of the other victims, were of imposing dimensions. It is reported that some of the rebels raided local post offices, and carried away money, giving receipts therefore in the name "The Irish Republic". 
Evening Herald (April 26 — 4 May, 1916)

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Harper and His Dog

On the green banks of Shannon when Sheelagh was nigh,
No blithe Irish lad was so happy as I;
No harp like my own could so cheerily play,
And where ever I went was my poor dog Tray.

When at last I was forced from my Sheelagh to part,
She said, while the sorrow was big at her heart,
'Oh, remember your Sheelagh, when far, far away,
And be kind my dear Pat, to your poor dog Tray'.

Poor dog, he was faithful and kind to be sure,
And he constantly loved me, although I was poor,
When sour-looking folks sent me heartless away,
I had always a friend in my poor dog Tray.

Though my wallet was scant, I remembered his case,
Nor refused my last crust to his pitiful face;
But he died at my feet on a cold winter's day
And I played a lament for my poor dog Tray.
   
Where shall I go? Poor forsaken and blind,
Can I find one to guide me so faithful and kind?
To my sweet native village, so far, far away,
I can never return with my poor dog Tray.

— Thomas Campbell (1777–1844)