Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ivy Cottage,
Ballymore Eustace,
27th November 2007.

Dear Editor,

I read Mr. Matt Purcell’s article regarding handball, thinking it was a joke. Jim Clarke was awarded a Hall of Fame award for Hanball! My belief is that the award is for greats of a discipline. How could a man who never played the game of handball, never represented his club or county, be awarded a Hall of Fame award?
I can remember the roof being placed on the alley in 1928, in my seventh year. It was roofed a short time and the first game was Tommy Leahy ( Ballymore) vs. J.J. Kelly (Dublin) best of fifteen games. I remember Christy Byrne and Peter O’Rourke coming up to where my father, Myles Lawlor, was making hay and asking him to go with Peter to help Tommy warm up for his big game. There were incredible celebrations when Tommy Leahy won, the band played him up the town!
We decided, in 1952, to upgrade the alley. Fr. Browne gave us the use of the reading room for a dance to raise funds. Myself & Jim Doyle, now in a religious order in Mexico, were delighted to engage the Gallowglass Ceili Band.. We knocked on the McGarr’s door, the man shouted out, “Who’s there?” Jim from Sillagh, said “Jim Doyle.” Turning to me saying “I should have said Seamus O’Duill.” The hall was packed to capacity, there wasn’t room to dance!
Johnny Murray from Coughlanstown loaned us a machine to make blocks. When the lads left Headons they would go to work on the Alley. I was there until four o’clock in the morning.
I wish to ask Jim Clarke how he could award which is only given to the greats of the game?
I will now give you my contribution. I won the Heavyweight Junior Boxing Championship of Kildare in 1947. I won the All-Ireland Junior Singles and doubles, (the first man to achieve this.) Paddy Monaghan was my doubles partner. Phil Leahy used to say to Matt the Thresher, “come on now, Matt, for the honour and glory of the little village.” That was my motto.
I would ask Jim Clarke to cast his mind back to a day in Punchestown in 1955. a row broke out when one of the three card men burst the face of a man with a knuckle duster. Matty Kelly, Jim Burke Myles Lawlor and myself gave the them their commuppance.
I started to train greyhounds with Harry Deegan, having considerable success on the coursing fields of Ireland and top tracks, including Shelbourne Park. I went down to Thurles to race a dog in the Irish Greyhound Grand National. I called into Hayes Hotel and saw the room where the G.A.A. was founded in 1884.
I am now living in happy retirement at eighty seven years of age. Harry Deegan looks after me. Harry, in my mind, should be Person of the Year in Ballymore. I have some lovely neighbors, Philip & Tara Black, Elaine & David Keenan, Pter & Brian McGrath and Audrey & Kevin McNally. My Grandfather bought Ivy Cottage, where I live, in 1907.
I will now close with the words made famous by Margaret Mitchell in the classic film, “Gone with the Wind,” which I read at eighteen years of age.
“What will I do now? Frankly, my dear I do not give a damn”
The proudest moment of my life was when the lady doctor in Beaumont Hospital said to me, “William, you are a gentleman.”

Yours Sincerely

Bill Lawlor.

Post script.

I enclose twenty euro as a competition prize. Ten Euro to each of the correct answers

Question One: Michael Hogan, for whom the stand in Croke Park was named, was shot on Bloody Sunday November 21st 1920. Who administered the Last Rites?

Question Two: Where is Tobar na Gras?

In reply to Bill’s letter-
Jim Clarke was actually named Handball Person of the Year at the Co Kildare GAA Awards for his consistent and continued support of the game as opposed to the GAA Hall of Fame Award.
Eamon Deegan, Chairperson of Ballymore Eustace Handball Association is delighted Jim was recognised at the county awards.
“Jim is down in at the Ballymore Handball centre every week, doing odd jobs and keeping the place in proper order – it was Jim who put up the new fence sponsored by KTK. When it comes to our annual flag day, Jim is first out and always manages to collect more than anyone else! He may not have been a handballer in his day but he is dedicated to GAA sports. I think its great to see a man who has put so much effort in - without ever having gotten acclaim as a player – being acknowledged for his contribution. It’s well deserved as far as we are concerned in Ballymore; our heartiest congratulations and thanks to the bold Jim.”

Matt - Some New Memories

Senior Citizens Party

A few years ago I was invited to the Senior Citizens Party (by Kathleen Lawler I think) but did not go on that occasion. I intended going to this year’s party but kept forgetting to make the necessary call. Eventually I called Sean Fogarty and everything was arranged – I was added to the list. Happily Sean’s mother is now progressing well after being in Naas Hospital at the same time as myself.

Old Days
Years and years ago I recall visiting the grounds of the Poulaphouca House Hotel but I cannot recall who my companions were or how I got there. I definitely had companions and I probably arrived there by bicycle. That said I was never inside the hotel before. My brother James kindly gave me a lift to the hotel and John Queally invited him to join us. This time James did not join us.

Mystery Waitress
Seeing the waitresses I realised I knew one of them of old but from where? Used she work in the Ballymore Inn or the Thatch or the Ball alley? In due course the waitress came to our table with vegetables. Being the cheeky type I asked the direct question and learned she was a Swords and had worked in Janet’s that I often visited. Later I learnt she was Caroline Swords. Some years ago, Neil Diamond had a popular song called Sweet Caroline.

As always, Betty Giltrap gave me the warmest of welcomes. Betty as usual was most encouraging in regard to my Bugle Column and was delighted to see it back.

Table Companion
Meanwhile, Eileen Conway who was in the seat opposite me helped keep me in chat. I mentioned seeing Eileen walking towards Blessington on many occasions. Due to the increased volume of traffic Eileen can no longer make this trip but now does her walking at the football field. Another regular football field walker I understand is Liz Deegan (nee O’Connor formerly of Valleymount). Nowadays I understand Seamus and Mary Hayden and their dog do their walking at Punchestown.

Those present were delighted to see me and were not shy in telling me. They also told me how they enjoyed my column being back in the Bugle. The volunteers who made it all possible did a great job and kept us all happy. The meal provided by the Poulaphouca House Hotel was excellent.

The Musicians

I spoke to both Mick Farrington and Brendan Hennessy before they began their music. Both they and I were pleased to talk to each other after lengthy breaks.

Hello! I’m Tommy Cash!
Johnny Cash’s youngest brother Tommy was here on a tribute show to his brother Johnny. Having heard Tommy sing I was amazed at how alike he was to Johnny. When I saw he was to play four shows here in Ireland I was anxious to go to his Dublin show in the Olympia if possible. He was also playing in Cork beforehand so I told my sister who went to his show and enjoyed it. Very kindly my niece Ann-Marie brought me to the show that I thoroughly enjoyed. This was the first show I went to in a long, long time.

Good Shepherd Echo
The Good Shepherd Echo is a free newsletter that the Churchtown Parish brings out every fortnight. Having read the leading article on the Parishes’ Golden Jubilee I discovered the page and a half A5 article was written by Jim Boland – a former Ballymore resident. Jim is a member of the Churchtown Pastoral Council. In the article, Jim dealt with how the Parish was, what it became and he thanked those who made it so. He also paid special tribute to Donal Murray who painted the new centrepiece for alter – a painting of the Good Shepherd.

I was sorry to see from the last edition of the Bugle that Gus Toomey had died. In recent years I used to see this man walking back and forth to the village. I did not know who he was but subsequently learnt it was Gus. From his obituary in the Bugle Gus was obviously an active and most interesting man. Gus was pre-deceased by his brothers Jim (Blessington) and Pat (Ballymore-Eustace). I would have known his brothers Dinny and Gerry better than I knew Gus himself. For several years Dinny worked in Joe Headon’s butcher shop. He also worked for several years in the Downshire House Hotel. More recently Dinny worked in Wilsons butcher shop in Rathfarnham. Gerry was an expert at his job. Officially I think he was a plasterer or may be a bricklayer. In his younger days Gerry was a regular handball player.

I have just learnt that Margaret Brady (nee Whelan) died recently – December 8 I believe. Margaret was one of three sisters Brigid, Pauline and herself. Her father and mother lived in Barrack Street. Her father died suddenly, in his sixties I think, while her mother lived to a good age and was a daily mass-goer. Her daughter Pauline brought her to Mass by car. Margaret suffered from arthritis I think it was for the last about eight years.
In their younger days the Whelan sisters took part in Drama Society functions and I recall the three of them singing “Three Lovely Lassies from Bunion” at one of Fr Browne’s shows.

© Matt Purcell (December 2007)
Matt’s Memories

Happy Christmas!
With the festive Christmas season upon us I would like to wish all our readers a very happy Christmas and New Year.

That Man Again
A regular visitor to me in Naas Hospital was Jim Clarke who was always welcome and brightened things up for me. His wife Nancy recently spent time in Larchfield Nursing Home but happily is now back home again. Despite his personal difficulties, Jim seems to be able to make time for his friends. While Nancy was in Larchfield, Jim also visited Paddy Monaghan on a number of occasions.

During one occasion, Jim arrived in to me in the company of Tom Ryan and John Gray both of South Dublin County Council’s Retirement Association. This Association was recently formed and Tom is its first chairman while John is one of its most prominent members. John’s wife Joan died on August 3, 2004. Joan and John lived at Saggart. John knew my late uncle, Larry Keegan (90), who also lived in Saggart and died on March 18, 1998. John worked in the Council’s Stores and he and I often chatted as he went about his business of supplying my needs when we both worked with the Council.

I subsequently discovered Jim was meeting Tom and John for the first time but he was so familiar with them that I thought he knew them all his life!

Editor Of Ballymore Bugle
Tim Ryan paid me a visit in Naas Hospital. He also supplied me with copies of the Bugle that were most welcome even though I have some difficulty reading. With Rose Barrett O’Donoghue on a sabbatical in Spain, I guess Tim was our fully-fledged Editor of the Bugle for a while at least. I believe Tim recently had an accident and I would like to wish him a speedy recovery.

Oldtown Abu!
Tony Buckley and I go back a long. Our paths first crossed forty-nine years ago when Robin Winders and myself beat Tony and his partner in hardball doubles. Tony of Oldtown visited me in Naas Hospital and again in Dun Laoghaire Rehab. Over the years Tony has continued to play handball. More recently Tony has played 40 by 20 handball.

Former Work Colleagues
Michael Weldon and Brendan Holohan were work colleagues of mine when we all worked with Dublin County Council. In more recent times both Brendan and myself have taken early retirement and have had no regrets for doing so. Michael enquired regularly for me from my brother following my stroke and passed on the latest news on me to Brendan.

Noel and Bridget
Noel and Bridget Headon were good enough to visit me in Naas Hospital. They also brought me a big bag of goodies that were much appreciated. In years gone by when my father, the local GP, was visiting Mr Carroll and his brother my mother and us young ones would visit and chat to Mrs Carroll. It is a lifetime ago and the main people involved are long since deceased. Was Mr Carroll’s name Jim? Was his brother’s name Eddie? I’m not sure anymore.

Nurse’s Promise
Nuala Lawler is a nurse and a friend of my sister-in-law Carmel. When my sister-in-law was on holidays, she got Nuala to promise to bring me for occasional gallops – I mean walks. As promised, Nuala brought me for a walk and called on me again but found me asleep. In the circumstances, Nuala did not disturb me. I did not see Nuala before I went to Dun Laoghaire but perhaps I’ll meet her again at the races sometime.

A Man Of Distinction
Br Columbanus died recently. He was in his early eighties and got to know my brother Billy and his wife Carmel many years ago. Billy often swam with him at the Guillamene, Tramore and passed him on the way out there as Br Columbanus cycled. Br Columbanus was a fitness fan and had no spare flesh. I got to know Br Columbanus more recently when I used usually meet him at my brother’s home in Naas. For several years Br Columbanus was based in Waterford. Br Columbanus was a late vocation and had previously served in the army as a motorcycle courier. Whenever there was a discussion on TV or Radio about the Second World War Br Columbanus was usually a contributor. He was originally from Dublin and as far as I can remember his surname was Deegan.

The Walkers
Met Eric Firth and Mary Firth (nee Edgeworth) for the first time since my stroke. On Saturday November 10 they were out walking their dogs on the road near Mountcashel. I had mistakenly thought Mary had come home from America and so I made an American out of Eric. Eric and Mary had in fact come home from Chelmsford in Essex where Mary was a nurse and Eric was from the West Country. My sister Margaret had worked in a hospital in Chelmsford as a radiologist sometime before Mary. According to my sister there were two hospitals in Chelmsford. I discovered that it was Dolores Edgeworth who lives in America.

I see from The Voice (Naas) of October 19 that Joe Boland (Ballymore-Eustace) is to become Director of Services for Water and Environment Services, Kildare County Council while Peter Minnock (formerly Dublin County Council) is to become Head of Housing and Architectural Services and Town Manager for Leixlip. Kildare County Council also made a number of other appointments.

Sad Farewell
In a flash everything had changed for Pat and Ella Fitzpatrick. They had been enjoying a foreign holiday. The news from home was bad – the worst possible. Their twenty-two year old son Tom, who was a passenger, was killed in a car accident at Fournaughts, Naas. Tom liked golf - I am aware of one golfer at least who paid his respects at Tom’s funeral.
The Late Dr Tom
The brother read my November Column and told me Dr Tom Dooley was a Vietnam rather than a Korean veteran. On reflection, I agree with him.

Stephen and Jane
Stephen O’Connor died on August 31, 1983 having been unwell for sometime prior to that. For many years Stephen had worked at the Filter Beds. Just over three months later Jane died on December 7, 1983. Jane was my mother’s oldest sister. Her nieces, Jean and Helen, lived with Stephen and Jane for sometime after their mother died in the early fifties. Helen’s husband, Tony Byrne, died on February 21, 2002. Coincidently I met her again on Thursday November 15, 2007 when my brother was helping me to do some shopping at Nutgrove Shopping Centre. We had a good old catch up chat in which I learnt that her four children were now married and she now has nine grandchildren. Also I learnt that her older sister Jean who she meets regularly had two major operations while he brother Derek is now retired. Stephen lived in the house now owned by Paddy Monaghan and Padraig Brosnan previously owned it.

Shane’s Best
In the background Shane McGowan of the Pogues is playing. For the umpteenth time I’m listening to and enjoying his disc “The Very Best Of”. The late Kirsty McColl sings one of his tunes while Ronnie Drew sings another. I guess I’m an addict! The last tune on the disc is called “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. This took on a new meaning for me when I visited Sydney and discovered the Circular Quay referred to in the song.

© Matt Purcell December 2007.

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