Sunday, April 22, 2007

Matt’s Column

Person of the Year Awards

With the awards receiving full coverage in the last edition of the Bugle my take on the occasion will be brief. As we have come to expect, a lovely feel good atmosphere was evident. All the nominees were well supported by family and friends. Hearing the credentials of each of the nominees it was clear that anyone of the nominees would have been a worthy winner. Each of the nominees received a lovely hand scripted scroll by Fiona Barrett, a beautiful sketch of a local land mark by Bill Delaney, a Gift Voucher plus a flower bouquet in the case of the ladies and a bottle of wine in the case of Eamonn Deegan. Mary Campbell was the overall winner while Gerry and Breda Bell received a special “Good Citizens Award”. Speaking to Mary on the following Monday morning I was pleased to find that she was still very much on cloud nine. The Leinster Leader had considerable coverage of the occasion as had the Kildare Post. Additionally, the Leader carried a half page profile of Mary.

Liam, Rose and the late Billy and Molly

I read with great interest Rose’s article in the last edition of the Bugle arising from her chat with Liam Evans. One could not but admire the achievements of Liam’s late parents Billy and Molly in the face of adversities such as Billy’s illiteracy and how they overcame this handicap so that Billy could fulfil his role as “ganger” at The Filter Beds station. You would also have to admire how Billy subsequently overcame his illiteracy with Molly’s assistance. In the circumstances, it is amazing that Billy left behind a legacy of poetry relating to Ballymore and Hollywood.

One of my earliest memories of watching competitive handball was in 1952 when Liam played hardball doubles with Bill Lawlor in the All-Ireland Championship. Around about that time Liam gave me my first ever hardball and I immediately began practising hardball, which was the most popular form of handball in Ballymore then. At that time, Bobbie Grattan was the top Ballymore hardballer. His speciality was a ferocious serve. Needless to say as a youngster I practised hard to emulate Bobbie’s serving prowess. Subsequently, I won six All-Ireland medals for hardball so I guess you could say Liam’s gift of a hardball yielded rich dividends for me.

Liam recalled his father Billy playing football with Two-Mile-House and Paddy (or Pat as I would have called him) Buckley, the son of one of his team mates, winning the 1963 Grand National on “Ayala” at 66/1. As far as I am aware, Pat Buckley’s father was the next door neighbour of the late James Keegan, my maternal grandfather.

Following reading Rose’s article I went searching through my old Echos and Chronicles for Billy’s poems. In due course, I found two of them and headed up to Tony and Maureen Evan’s home with one of them. Meeting Tony I discovered he already had copies of the two I found. It was not a wasted effort however as Tony and I had a good old “catch up” chat.

If you read this Liam, Rose did pass on your regards to me.


As I write the Cheltenham Racing Festival is just a week away. Already, I’m a loser having had three ante-post bets in the Gold Cup on two horses that are now non-runners. Hopefully, my ante-post bets in the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase namely Hardy Eustace and Newmill will at least run in these races. Usually, the going at Cheltenham is good but it looks like it could be different this year with all the rain we have had and more forecast. This could lead to long priced winners.

Historical/Heritage Society

Recently I met Margaret Pearse and C.J. Darby, who are both involved in the book being brought out the Society, on the same day. Talking to Margaret she confirmed that steady progress was being made but was reluctant to put a date on when it would be ready for publication. C.J. for his part was very pleased about a photo he received lately from a former Ballymore resident and I must say I look forward to seeing the photo in question when the book is published.

Fas Trio

I see our Fas Trio have made a flying start to 2007 and have already tidied St Mary’s and St John’s Cemeteries. They also tidied St Oliver Plunkett Road and were working outside the Thatch when I passed by there on March 6. More recently, they were busy repairing the gutters on the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Break Ins

I understand a couple of homes in the area , Scoil Mhuire and the Credit Union Office have all recently been broken into and a couple of cars were also stolen.


Moorefield did well to draw with Dr Crokes when they first met in the All-Ireland Club Football Semi-Final. In the replay Dr Crokes came out on top.

Old Handball Friends

Dropping in to the 40 by 20 alley recently I discovered Paddy Reilly and Seamus Reade of Kilkenny had just beaten Pat Ryan and Marcus Henry of Dublin in the Leinster championship. In days gone by, Paddy Reilly had many a good game against our own Tom O’Rourke while I would have played against Seamus, Pat and Marcus with mixed results. Come to think of it, Eamonn Deegan and I scored a surprise win over Paddy Reilly and his partner in senior softball doubles on one occasion. More recently, while dining in the Spawell I met Tony Buckley from Oldtown. Tony, who played for Dublin, was one of the first players I ever played against when he and his partner played Robin Winder and I in minor hardball doubles in 1958. Tony retired from work two and a half years ago and suffered a stroke since then but has recovered quite well from it.

March Birthday Boys

The Clarke twins, Jim and Tom, and Paddy Monaghan all celebrated birthdays early in March and I extend my best wishes to each of them. Paid Paddy a quick visit and was delighted to find him in excellent spirits. As I arrived I heard a familiar voice coming from the Nursing Home’s Recreation Room singing “Danny Boy” - it was Paddy entertaining his fellow patients. Chatting to Paddy I found he was up to date with Ballymore news and was delighted with the news that Mary Campbell had received the 2007 Person of the Year Award. Paddy obviously has the highest admiration for Mary. Jim Clarke was another recipient of Paddy’s praise. I understand from Paddy that Jim’s wife Nancy has returned home after a spell in the Nursing Home. Another recipient of Paddy’s praise was Martin Deegan who Paddy described as a great worker.


Eamonn and Liz Deegan had a busy time in December when they had two conferring ceremonies to attend. Their daughter Orlaigh and son Eamonn both graduated
with Batchelor of Science degrees. Orlaigh is proceeding to do her Masters degree in Business and Entrepreneurship while Eamonn is pursuing Computer Engineering.

C J O’Reilly’s Sea Diva won the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mares Beginners Chase over three miles at Thurles on February 15 beating Bryansford Belle by one and three quarter lengths. The winner was trained by Dessie Hughes and ridden by Roger Loughran. It was my good fortune to back Sea Diva which was returned at 5/1 but it was my misfortune to back it on the Tote which paid less than 2/1.

Billy Doran who celebrated his seventieth birthday last December showed his current well being by winning the 2007 Leinster Ruby Masters 40 by 20 Singles Championship. His opponent in the final was Christy Lynagh of Meath. Believe it or not, Billy achieved his first major handball successes in 1957 – that is 50 years before his present success! Guess what? Billy has won yet another Provincial title when he teamed up with Maynooth’s Declan Quigley to win the corresponding Leinster Doubles title.

Gareth Clarke has progressed to the second round of the Leinster 40 by 20 singles Championship when he had an easy success in the opening round.

Bernardine Mulryan’s Tahitien Fix was a 7 length winner from Boots Runner of the C.J. Sheeran Ltd Maiden Hurdle (Div 2) over 2 m at Thurles on March 8. The winner was 9/2, ridden by D.F. O’Regan and trained by A.L. Moore.


Philomena Conlon (nee Daniels) of Lacken, Blessington died on February 12 aged 54 R.I.P. Phil was a granddaughter of the late Billy and Mollie Evans who were featured in Rose’s lovely article on the Evans Family in the February edition of the Bugle and is survived by her husband Shay, sons Colin and Shane, daughters – Fiona, Orla and Adrina, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, nieces, nephews, sons-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and extended family. Phil had many Ballymore relations including her sisters Geraldine Winder and Pauline Murray. To all of her family I offer my sincere sympathy.

Michael Fennan of Blessington and formerly of Broadleas died on February 16 aged 62 at Tallaght Hospital after a short illness R.I.P. I learned of Mick’s illness only a short time before his death. The attendance at the removal of his remains to the Church of Our Lady in Blessington was very large with a large contingent from Ballymore being present. Mick is survived by his wife Collette, sons – Paul, Billy and Michael, daughter Jenny, grandchildren, brothers Tom and Brian, sister Mary and extended family to all of whom I offer my sincere sympathy.

Edward J. (Eddie) Gilmartin (BA. BAI.) Blackrock, Co. Dublin died on February 28 aged 87 years at St. Vincent's University Hospital R.I.P. Eddie was a former work colleague of mine during my time with Dublin County Council. His wife Nancy, sons Michael and Edward, daughters Fiona and Sinéad, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and extended family survive Eddie.

Robert (Bobby) Coonan of Ballymore Eustace and Monread, Naas, Co. Kildare died on March 2 in St Brigid's Hospice, The Curragh R.I.P. Bobby was one of our most outstanding sportsmen winning seven National Hunt jockey championships outright and sharing an eighth title. In the early seventies, Bobby’s achievements received local recognition when he was the recipient of the Hall Of Fame Award at the Annual All-Stars Dinner Dance. When Bobby was in his early teens I recall our family visiting the Coonan family and seeing Bobby busily attending to his pony. At the time, Bobby had only one thing in his head and that was to become a jockey – an ambition he realised to the fullest extent. At the removal of his remains to the Church a number of his racing associates were in attendance. These included former top jockey Toss Taaffe and trainers Paddy Prendergast and John Hayden. His racing friends were also well represented at his funeral Mass. I understand these included former jockey Christy Kinane and trainer Dessie Hughes. To his family - James, Anna and Shelagh, brothers - Charles, Ian and Stuart, sisters Ann and Consuelo, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephews, nieces, and extended family I offer my sincere sympathy.

John Gerald (Gerry) Smith died on March 4 in his 80th year at St Luke's Hospital R.I.P. Gerry was a neighbour of mine in Churchtown who came to my rescue during my working days when on a frosty morning my car refused to start. His wife Sylvia, daughters - Sandra, Wendy, Lynda and Dorothy, his sister Vi, niece Deirdre, grandchildren, sons-in-law and extended family survive Gerry.

Joan Browne (nee Ward) of Bolabeg died on March 7 aged 53 R.I.P. From the tributes paid to Joan at her funeral Mass she was clearly a loving mother who was totally committed to her family. The attendance at the Mass was very large and the Mass itself was a very moving experience. To her husband Jim, children -Angela, David, Paul, Deirdre, Stephen and James, mother, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and extended family I offer my sincere sympathy.

Mary Burke (nee Heydon) of Weaver’s Row died in Naas Hospital on March 11 aged 83 R.I.P. Mary came to live in Ballymore in the early sixties and was predeceased by her husband Liam in 1982. From the tributes paid to Mary at her funeral Mass she obviously enjoyed life, a smoke and the horses. She remained young in her thinking through her interest in and contact with young people especially her extended family. Thanks to her trusty phone and the kindness of Evelyn McGrath, her neighbours - Jack and Marie Burke – and the local business community Mary was able to live out her life in her home. To her sister Eileen, brother Joe, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephews, nieces and extended family I offer my sincere sympathy.

© Matt Purcell (March 14, 2007).

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