Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Profile of Patsy Murphy
(as compiled by Matt Purcell from
The Ballymore Echo, 1977)

“This month our Profile Team took a trip to Newbridge. Here we met Patsy Murphy, well known in mixed farming, football and even horseracing circles. Now retired, Patsy lives with his daughter Frances. Born in Glenree, Valleymount in 1892, Patsy went to school in Granabeg until he was 14 years of age. He remembers lads of 20 years attending school for the winter months and working all summer. In the early years, he worked in Glenree and Coughlanstown mainly with sheep. He drew stones with a horse and dray from the quarry in Ballyknockan to Blessington for the princely sum of 2/6d a day.

In 1920, he married Mai Mahon of Dublin. A sporting man, he often carried the
bag of the shooting Curate in Valleymount - our present Monsignor Browne.
They later moved to "Liffeydale" and reared a large family in difficult times. He recalls the dreadful thirties when ewes were 11/= each. In 1933, he bought 100 ewes for £50. That same year he sold 5 year-old fat heifers in the Dublin Market for £1 a cwt. weight. This was a record price and the talk of the country at that time.

He made many friends, one being Mrs Coonan who introduced him to horse racing. "Cariff Mount" bred from a mare she sold him for £11, won the Tickell Cup in Punchestown. Patsy laughed as he recalls that day going up to collect the Cup to find that his good friend Dinny Sullivan had it gone home. Part of his success he attributes to his good friend and neighbour, Captain Spencer Freeman, who allowed him all facilities for schooling horses.

Things that stand out in his memory of the old days in Ballymore was a great Bowling team. He remembers with nostalgia a famous Tug-O-War team, the
‘lightest’ man being 14 st. Names like Peter Kiely, the Kelly brothers, Dick Brien, Tom Headon, Mick Leahy and Charlie Brien and Joe Murphy of Bishophill, Tom Driver, Dick Hynes and many more. Art Doran who served his time in Coogan's Bar in Laragh was another great friend of his. He recalls helping Art clear up after Pitch & Toss outside the Bar.

Card playing was another favourite past time. He remembers many all night sessions in various houses and people travelled many miles for a good game of Twenty-Five. He bought his first motorcar in 1926 for £27. There were only two other cars in the Parish at the time. He recalled the flooding of the lake before the E.S.B. Power Station was built. One man who refused to leave his home had to be rescued by boat.

Patsy was Chairman of the G.A.A. Club in the good years and he remembers a famous match in Donard. The late Jack Burke of Tipperkevin asked Patsy to introduce him to the new Parish Priest - our present Monsignor Browne. When introduced, Jack said, "You are the first LIVE parish priest I have seen for 40 years in Ballymore!". Larry Stanley was, in Patsy's opinion, the greatest footballer of all times.

His most cherished memories are of Liffeydale and Tom Headon. He says
"Life is wonderful now, not like the old days". His only regret is that he was born 30 years too soon. Patsy and Mai has 57 grandchildren and 7 great-grand children.

(Ballymore Echo July 1977)
Patsy and Mai’s daughter Lil died on January 27, 1949, aged 23. Mai died on January 24, 1975, aged 79 and Patsy died on May 2, 1986, aged 93.

Apart from Lil, Patsy and Mai had 5 girls – Rita Lawlor (who has been in St Vincent’s Hospital, Athy for sometime now), Maureen Burke, Kitty Murray, the late Frances Higgins and Teresa Flood; four sons – the late Paddy, John, the late Michael and Martin, also deceased.

Sadly Monsignor Maurice Browne is now deceased, as is Mrs Coonan of Lugadowden.

While card drives were commonplace in days gone by I never took part in drives involving Twenty-Five. My late parents sometimes went to them. In my growing up years, whist drives were common and I often went to them where no doubt I encountered Patsy and Mai and indeed many others. My recollection is that Hollywood was always well represented on such occasions.

© Matt Purcell (November 9, 2009)

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