Thursday, May 6, 2010

Matt’s Memories
Bugle Christmas Party
The Bugle Committee held its second Annual Christmas Party on December 11 at The Thatch. Most of the Bugle contributors and some members of The CDA were present. A cheque was presented to the Senior Citizens Committee who were represented by Kathleen Lawlor. A good time was had by all present and on the night, The Thatch was full. In addition to The Bugle function, the Bowling Club were there on a Christmas night out and the Dooley family to celebrate Matt’s 50th birthday.

Senior Citizens Dinner
The Senior Citizens Dinner 2009 was held at Poulaphouca House on December 13. Most of those whom I have come to consider as regulars were there including Jack and Nancy Boylan – Jack was in a wheelchair and had travelled from Athy. At our table, were Nan Kane, Mr and Mrs Paddy Dreelan, Tommy Deegan, Mary Deegan and my brother James who accompanied me.

At the next table, we had Marie Wolfe who had visited Nancy Graham at Kiltipper Woods Care Centre, Tallaght the previous day. I gather Joe Wolfe and his wife now have a B & B on the Aran Islands. Nan Kane enquired diligently about Joe Quinn who was originally from Coughlanstown. The Ballymore Eustace History Book is receiving much favourable comment and I spoke briefly to Nellie Carroll. As we have come to expect, the Organising Committee did a great job.

Modern Technology
Thanks to modern technology, I was able to catch a radio programme that I had originally missed. This was a Liveline programme in which Joe Duffy interviewed Marcus Henry of Sligo for about ten minutes. Seemingly, Marcus was stopped from entering America to take part in the world handball championships.

Marcus was a great handball player who won All-Ireland minor softball singles titles in 1963 and 1964. In 1962, Kerry’s Murt McEllistrim in the corresponding singles final narrowly beat him. In 1967, John Gaffney and Marcus won the All-Ireland junior softball doubles title.

Sadly, Marcus was also an alcoholic and this plagued both his academic and handball careers. The last time I met Marcus was at 40 x 20 handball matches in Ballymore in Spring 2007. He had been off the drink for two years and was playing handball. From the radio programme, he has been off the drink for a further three years.

His eldest brother, Len, died in England on October 18. In 1960, I played his older brother, Justin, in three All-Ireland handball semi-finals. At one stage, Justin worked with the late Paddy O’Neill. Marcus’s other brother, Dermot, was a good singer and was successful here before going to America.

In the course of the programme with Marcus, I learned that his former handball partner, John Gaffney, had died in December 2008. John was also a good musician and was present at the World Masters 40 x 20 Championship games in Clare in 1984.
I also learned that Mickey Walsh of Charlestown, Co. Mayo died in April of this year. I recall him having a great game with Kilkenny’s Joe Delaney in Taghmon in the 1962 All-Ireland senior soft singles final. Mickey was only recently home after spending a long time in England. Everyone who saw that game was impressed by Mickey’s performance but Joe’s grit and determination saw him score a narrow win. In 1966, Mickey won the All-Ireland senior soft doubles with Peter McGee.
Cairns ’97
In 1997, I spent a week in Cairns with Phil and Betty Rodney. All the time I was there, a cyclone was out at sea and threatened to come inland. Naturally, my hosts were very concerned about this but I thought nothing of it. My views were radically changed when I saw pictures of the damage caused by Cyclone Tracy to Darwin on Christmas Day 1974 when I visited Darwin Airport in 2000. (All this came back to me recently when I saw a Discovery TV Programme on cyclones).

Fr Sinnott
We heard the good news of the release of Fr Sinnott who had been kidnapped in The Philippines. One of those who commented on Fr Sinnott’s lot was Fr Donie Hogan, who like Fr Sinnott, was a Columban Father and had been in The Philippines. Nowadays, Fr Hogan, who hailed from Tramore, is a regional director of the Columban Missionaries. Donie took part in the first handball tournament I ever took part in - won by Dec Halligan and Tony Kelly. We used meet Donie when he was home on holidays and sadly, one of his sisters, Mrs Dorothy Kennedy, died in early November.

I saw in the November Bugle that Mary Carroll had died aged 95. Mary was very much a life-affirming person. She lived in Ballymore Eustace with her Garda husband, Tom. On Tom’s retirement, the couple moved to Ballylinan. The couple did up a house and lived there. In the early eighties, Tom passed away. Mary was a regular at the Punchestown Festival where she used to meet the late Jack Lawler and myself. Former Ballymore resident, Bobbie Grattan (Athy), was a regular visitor to Mary while Peter McKnight and Seamie Brien occasionally visited also. Mary was a good friend of Nancy Fitzgerald, Naas whose late husband was also a Garda. Only a while ago, Mary went off on holidays to Poland.

Recently, Irish music suffered a double blow with the deaths of Liam Clancy and Ciaran Mac Mathuna. Liam’s death represented the end of an era, as he was the last of the well-known Clancy Brothers and the duo of Clancy and Makem. In the sixties, the Clancy Brothers popularised folk music and dominated the scene in America. Subsequently, Liam teamed up with Tommy Makem and achieved an equally high regard with him. For years, Ciaran Mac Mathuna had a popular radio programme and did great work for folk music even though he was not a musician himself.

© Matt Purcell (January 11, 2010

Profile of Thomas Lynch

Still within the folds of our village, we called on Mr. Thomas Lynch who is happy to spend his days with his daughter-in-law Kathleen at Tinnycross. He was born in 1894 in New Jersey. He came to Ireland as a baby and lived in Drogheda where he spent a happy childhood, hunting and racing. Leaving school in 1910 he entered the Pawnbroker business. Valuation and stock keeping was really his game and he worked his way up. He is proud to say that he had the distinction of never being a receiver of stolen property.

After 14 years, economic conditions became impossible, and the business was lost. He was lucky to get a job with a London firm, named Tiller and Smyth. Rail was the only means of transport and he covered the greater parts of the Country. He loved every bit of it. He loved Mayo especially, it was his favourite County and its people were so friendly. After a few years he was again out of a job through Government intervention. This time he went into insurance.

He loved horse racing and started betting at an early age and continued until his eyesight failed. Betting Offices were illegal in his early days and no ante post. Bets were sent to Topping and Spindle in Holland. He had some great winners, one being Christmas Daisy in 1910, another being Charlie's Mount, I00-1 shot in 1924. He joined the United Irish League in 1915. He says he was opposed to Sinn Fein in the 1918 election. Later joining the Labour movement, he found himself embroiled in the big munitions strike and remained active with them up until 1926. He was a trade Unionist all his life, paying his first fee in 1914 and his last in July 1963.

He married in 1935 and had 4 children. As time passed, he turned to gardening, a job he loved. The saddest day of his life was when his wife died leaving him with the small children. His sister-in-law took the youngest child and cared for him, and to her credit, he is now a Quantity Surveyor. His sister Mrs. Wisely who lived in Ballymore encouraged him to move here where there was a gardening job in Stonebrook in 1947.

This was a good move as his sister helped to rear the rest of his family. He had numerous ups and downs, moving on to The County Council and eventually, to The Forestry. Here he remained, until he was forced to slow down through ill health. They kept his job open until he was 70.

He loves Ballymore and finds the people very friendly. He had no great interest in games but had a great love for music. He played the violin and the accordion and could play a tune on the piano.

He was bitterly opposed to the Irish Language; having studied Latin and Greek, he said it was a dying language. Thomas did his best for his family with the help of his sister and sister-in-law. He gave them a good knowledge of the English language so that they could travel the world.

Two of his sons married Ballymore girls; unfortunately it was a great sadness when one died at a relatively young age some years back. He thinks young people are wonderful today and the happiest day of his life was his wedding.

Now in his eighties, Thomas "thanks God he has done his duty" in the immortal words of Nelson.

(Ballymore Echo, September 1977)

Tommy and his wife had four children – Ray, Dessie, Jerome and Val and they lived on Chapel Street, near Glancy’s. Dessie married Sheila Connolly who originally lived across the road from him in Weaver’s Row, Ballymore Eustace while Jerome married another Ballymore Eustace girl in Kathleen McLoughlin.

Sadly Jerome died on March 19, 1974 when he was only 34. After his death, Kathleen cared for Tommy. When Kathleen married Tony Jordan in 1978 and went to live in Poulaphouca, her mother, Katy McLoughlin, cared for Tommy. Tommy died on March 9, 1985 aged 91.

In days gone by, Tommy was the Leader Correspondent for Ballymore Eustace. He also regularly gave me handball cuttings from the Irish Times – some of which survive to the present time. Tony Jordan died on November 27, 2001 and is survived by Kathleen and their wo sons, Mark and Jonathan.

Katy McLoughlin herself died on December 15, 1989 aged 84. She was pre-deceased by her husband John who died in 1965 aged 69. Her family consisted of Mary (Garrigan), Kathleen (Jordan), Joe, Sean and Seamus.

© Matt Purcell (January 11, 2010

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