Sunday 27 October 2013

Nellie Shortall's 100th Birthday

Nellie Shortall
On Thursday last, 24th October, I had the privilege of being present for the celebration of the 100th birthday of Nellie Shortall, The Valley, Fethard, Co.Tipperary. Nellie and my late mother, Margaret Callanan, were first cousins. I lack the required ability to describe adequately Nellie's fine qualities, and I will merely write that she is a very special lady.

Originally Fitzpatrick, in 1949 Nellie married Larry Shortall from Gowran, Co.Kilkenny. Larry died suddenly, while doing his work, in 1978. Happily, their children Marie, John, and Ann were all present with their own families for Nellie's special day last week.

The Fitzpatricks were evicted from their farm in Tullaroan, Co.Kilkenny, in the 1880's, when their first cousin, and neighbour, paid the rent to the landlord and took over the land. The land should have been restored to the Fitzpatrick's under the 1905 Land Act, but never was. The family went to reside with a relative near Grangemockler, Co.Tipperary, quite close to the famous Hogan family of Currisila.

Nellie's father, Paddy Fitzpatrick, was an outstanding ploughman who won five All Ireland horse ploughing championships in a row. He also worked on the Bagwell Estate at Marlfield, Clonmel and joined the Irish Guards. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he was called into action. He, thankfully, survived and, shortly after returning home, took up employment as a linesman at Jonesborough, Co. Armagh. He was killed in very suspicious circumstances while working at the Station in 1920 during a violent period in Irish history. Nellie was only seven years old at the time. Her mother was distraught with three young children and expecting a fourth. Her husband's body was taken back to Fethard where the family had a connection. They had no grave of their own, but a kind gentleman from Fethard came forward and offered his own grave as he knew, and respected, Paddy Fitzpatrick. The offer was accepted and Paddy was laid to rest in the old grave yard on the New Inn Road out of Fethard.

Nellie worked in Kildare, Dublin, and London. On her marriage to Larry she resided in Fethard where she remained to the present day. Her sister, Josie, died last year at her home in the Bronx, New York, aged 101. Her brother, Tommy, aged 93, resides in New York, where he has been for many years.

The mass in the Church of The Holy Trinity, Fethard, on Thursday was highlighted by the beautiful music provided by Nellie's grandchildren, her son John and daughter Ann; and the magnificent singing of cousin Cherrie Betts-Hally. When Cherrie sang How great thou Art with an arm around Nellie, my tears came down. A wonderful occasion for a wonderful person.

Monday 14 October 2013

Loughmore-Castleiney Claim Crown

County Tipperary SHC Final:

Loughmore-Castleiney 1-17; Nenagh-Eire Óg 1-16

Loughmore-Castleiney defeated Nenagh-Eire Óg by one point in a dramatic finish to yesterday's Tipperary Senior Hurling Final played at Semple Stadium, Thurles. Nenagh had many chances to win the game as they were well on top in the first half, but it just was not their day. They have a lot of good young players in the club at present and their day will soon come. Loughmore-Castleiney were much improved in the second-half when Noel McGrath moved towards mid-field and gave a superb performance.

Loughmore-Castleiney is the leading GAA club in Tipperary in the promotion of both hurling and Gaelic Football. Until the early '70's it was primarily a Gaelic Football club in the heart of a strong hurling area. Then a big effort was made by Fr. O'Rourke, and others, to promote hurling at juvenile level. During the '70's, they won many titles, in both hurling and football, at under-age level both in the Mid division and in the county. They progressed to senior hurling in 1981 having won the county intermediate title in 1980. They won the Mid senior hurling title for the first time in 1983 having been beaten in the two previous finals. They won the county senior hurling title for the first time in 1988 when they beat Borrisoleigh in a replay—they had been beaten by the same opposition in the 1983 final. They had also lost the 1987 final by a point to Cappawhite.

The present members of the McGrath clan who play for Tipperary teams are the the third generation of that family to do so in my lifetime. In the '50's, brothers Dick and John played on the Tipperary senior football team. In the '70's and '80's, Tom and Pat played both hurling and football for Tipperary. Tom's son, Liam was the captain of the Tipperary minor football team on that never-to-be-forgotten day when they won the the All-Ireland crown for the first time since 1934. Wouldn't it be great if Pat's son, Noel, led Tipperary to victory in next year's All-Ireland senior hurling championship--compensating for the disappointment of 1989 when Pat should rightfully have been captain when Tipperary secured All-Ireland senior honours.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Ode to Christy Ring

The following is taken from Gaelic Sport magazine published in September 1984. It was written to Jack Mahon, editor of Junior Desk, from Charles Heywood, 1 Blagdon Place, Bath, Avon, England.
Christy Ring—God rest him!
A legend of our time,
On the Gaelic fields of Erin
Bestowed his skills sublime... 
Unrivalled with the camán,
Unchallenged for the crown
He nobly won as champion
In battles of renown... 
From the 30's to the 60's
He paved his way to fame,
His camán twinkling like the stars
In the forefront of each game... 
Like Cuchulainn, and the Red Branch Knights,
He vanquished friend and foe
In the art of hurling on the green
Fair land where shamrocks grow... 
A tribute to our hero—
The pride of Cloyne and Cork,
The maestro of Glen Rovers,
And the idol of New York... 
May the crossed-camáns and sliothar
The emblem of "Our Boys",
Forever with the Green Flag wave
'Neath sunlit Irish skies.
Iconic photo of two hurling greats: Mick Mackey and Christy Ring