Thursday 16 May 2013

The Boy Commentator

In 1938, when the inimitable Míchéal Ó hEithir (Michael O'Hehir) burst on the Irish Broadcasting scene, the following appeared in the Clare Champion on 1/10/38:
The GAA Boy Commentator
Our readers will be interested to learn that Míchéal Ó hEithir, the youthful commentator, who has been the subject of so many encomiums for his broadcasting of the All-Ireland Semi-Finals and Football Final, springs from Clare stock.

Some of his forebearers were outstanding figures in National, Educational and Athletic spheres. His father, Jim Hehir, was born near Ballynacally, and was the trainer of the Clare Hurling Team in 1914, when they won All-Ireland honours. 
Michael himself has just obtained his Intermediate Leaving Certificate. He has attended the July session at Carrigaholt Irish college for some years, and spends his Summer holidays at the residence of his aunt, Mrs. Brennan of Clonmore, Darragh.

His many friends in the Banner County are pleased with his achievements and hope that it is a prelude to a very successful career.
Almost ten years on, a still youthful Míchéal Ó hEithir pictured with Cavan and Kerry team captains, John-Joe O'Reilly and Dinny Lyne, on the occasion of the 1947 All-Ireland Final at the Polo Grounds, New York which was broadcast across the Atlantic.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

GAA Bits in Brief

The late Tommy Doyle (Tipperary) won All-Ireland senior hurling medals in three different decades—1937, 1945, 1949, 1950, 1951. His nephew, Jimmy Doyle, won six All-Ireland senior hurling medals—1958, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1971—also in three different decades.

When Eamonn Cregan won his All-Ireland senior hurling medal in 1973, he was emulating his father, Ned, who was a member of the victorious Limerick 1934 team.

The Legendary Goalkeeper from Tulla—Dr. Tommy Daly—died in 1936. It was September 21st when Dr. Daly was involved in a fatal car accident near Tuamgraney, and died almost immediately. Waves of shock and grief spread through the County, and indeed throughout the GAA world when the news broke. The late Bryan McMahon has recorded:
And from the broken north land
From Burren bleak and bare,
The dirge of Thomas Daly
Goes surging on through Clare.

Monday 13 May 2013

Pat Davin of Deerpark

Pat Davin was a renowned all-round sportsman and athlete, born at Deerpark, Carrick-on-Suir in 1857, to a farming family who also conducted a river transport business. He was the youngest and most outstanding of three famous athletic brothers. He broke the world high jump record on the 5th July, 1880 in Carrick-on-Suir with a leap of over 6'2" and in 1881 he won the British AAA titles in both high jump and long jump at Monasterevan in 1883. He was the first man to jump over 6 ft. in a high jump, and at one stage held six world records (including the 100 yards in 10 seconds, the 120 yard hurdles in 16 seconds, the high jump at 6 feet two and three quarter inches for long jump off grass). Apart from his involvement with athletics, he took part in many other sports including rowing and cricket, both of which were popular in the Carrick-on-Suir area at the time. Along with his brother Maurice, he was a founder member of Carrick-on-Suir athletic and cricket club and drew up the clubs first set of rules.

In September 1888, Pat Davin travelled to the United States with a group of 45 hurlers and athletes on a trip sponsored by the newly founded GAA which became known as the "American Invasion". In Boston, he defeated the champion of America in 120 yards hurdles and also took part in several hurling games during the tour. The hurley which he used on the tour to America is inscribed with the names of many of the cities Davin visited. On further examination, the hurley shows it was fashioned not from ash but from a hardwood, probably oak. Davin played cricket at an earlier stage of his life and when it came to hurling, it seems that he used a harder wood, more suitable for a cricket bat, to fashion his hurley. Nevertheless,in a long puck competition, he used this rather unsuitable hurley and the large and heavy 10 ounce sliotar of the time to good effect, pucking almost 85 yards.

Pat Davin's athletic achievements have never attracted the renown they deserved, partly because he never achieved the prestige of an Olympic medal for the simple reason that he was a man before his time and the games did not exist when he was in his prime. Also he has tended to be overshadowed by his brother Maurice who attracted much more notoriety not only because he was a great athlete in his day but also because he was the first President of the GAA. Nevertheless, Pat Davin could lay justified claim to being Ireland's best ever athlete. He brought much honour to Carrick-on-Suir and Ireland at a time when national prestige was at a low level and he did much to raise public interest in sport which undoubtedly contributed to the successful formation of the GAA.

The hurley and sliotar that Pat Davin used on the "American Invasion" are now given pride of place as part of the Davin showcase collection at Lár na Pairce, the National Visitors Centre for Gaelic games in Thurles.

Saturday 11 May 2013

The Sweet River Suir

The following is taken from Romantic Slievenamon:
From Devil's Bit to Thurles, from Golden unto Cahir,
By castle-crowned Ardfinnan running pure,
Past Carrick and Kilsheelan, ever sparkling, ever wheeling,
Flow the waters of the sweet river Suir. 
The Galtees and Slieveardagh send their torrents to it's flood,
Bright Anner comes from storied Slievenamon,
The sunshine and the shadows follow fast across the meadows,
Till the dews of the morn are gone. 
By the rich flowery fields of the pleasant Golden Vale,
By broken Norman tower and hamlet white,
The whispering of the Suir, saddest bosom would allure,
When it's glad waters dance in the light. 
The winds croon and sob thro' ruined abbey walls,
Weird music echoes from the fairy ground,
And the sad mystic rhymes of long forgotten times,
In the murmur of the Suir resound. 
In cool sheltered glens where glossy hazels nod,
The wild linnet trills a joyful lay,
The thrush and blackbird singing, sweetest melodies are flinging,
Thro' briar-scented groves all day. 
Ah, fair is Killarney, where the smile of God is seen,
And dear to me thy woodlands, Glenmalure,
But when this life is ended, and cold earth with earth is blended
Let me rest by the sweet river Suir. 
- Monsignor J.B. Dollard

Friday 10 May 2013

The Solitary Mountain

It's Charm and Mystery

In a contribution to Romantic Slievenamon, J.J. Halpin writes an account of how himself, and two companions, cycled from Clonmel one Sunday morning for the purpose of climbing Slievenamon. He describes arriving in good time "in the hamlet of Ballypatrick, a little beyond which we deposited our bicycles in a shady garden beside a friendly farmer's house. Having walked to Kilcash, where we were fortunate in securing as guide a genial, companionable soul, one thoroughly acquainted  with the mountain".

Having suffered the pangs of travelling through a long line of furze bushes chest high, and with tired bodies and aching limbs, they eventually reached the summit. There they consumed the contents of a large basket of food which they had taken with them. Then they rested for a long period. He described the view as a "wonderful panorama that brings within it's scope the greater part of a province and a large part of an adjoining one".

In the final chapter of a four page contribution he writes:
The Kickham Country 
To Tipperary folk this solitary mountain is of all others the most beloved. Tipperary without Slievenamon would be unthinkable. And Tipperary men—and Irishmen in general for that matter—can scarcely think of or look at Slievenamon without associating it with that most beautiful, most tender, most realistic story of Irish rural life by our own Kickham-Knocknagow. Slievenamon, it is upon whose slopes and around whose foot are grouped those "Homes of Tipperary" with their wonderful human epitome of gaiety and pathos, of laughter and tears. Down in the valley, in the quiet church-yard of his beloved Mullinahone, Charles Kickham lies at rest. Monuments have been carved by the sculptor's hand to commemorate him, but no monument will be more enduring than the mountain that looks down on the spot where he lies sleeping, and that will be associated with his stainless name until he hearkens to the last clarion call.