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    By David Flynn

    A western TV series that brought viewers back to the early pioneering days of the 18th century was a hit on American television in the late 1960s.


    It was a programme that was almost always placed up against tough competition on opposite channels for each of its seasons, but still it built up in popularity. Daniel Boone was one of many westerns that was on television at the time of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and flower power.


    Actor Fess Parker had made a huge name for himself on the Walt Disney tv series of Davy Crockett in the 1950s. However after the success of Crockett, Parker didn’t get another substantial role from Disney, so he left the company in the early 60s.
    In 1964, he was offered the lead role in a revival of the Daniel Boone story (there had been an earlier Disney version with actor, Dewey Martin).


    Daniel Boone told the story of a frontier man in Kentucky, USA around the time of the American Revolution (1770s). Boone carried out surveys in the uncharted forests, and encountered unfriendly humans and animals along the way.


    Similar to his Davy Crockett character, Fess Parker wore a coonskin cap, while portraying Daniel Boone.


    There was a real Daniel Boone and the series managed to stay faithful to the historical figure, although there were many timeline inaccuracies. However, the stories about the early American frontier explorations were exciting and positive.


    His wife, Rebecca, was played by Patricia Blair, and his Native American friend, Mingo, was played by pop singer, Ed Ames. The Boones had two children, teenager Jemima, played by Veronica Cartwright, and Israel, played by Darby Hinton.


    Daniel Boone premiered in September 1964 at 7.30pm on NBC on Thursday nights. In its first season it was up against sitcoms, The Flintstones and The Donna Reed Show on CBS.

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      EUGENE DALY continues his series on various aspects of
      Irish folklore and customs

      The stereotype of the brawling, drunken Irishman is a distortion, but the Irish love of alcoholic drink is undeniable. Irish songs are full of its praises: Preab san ól – Drink with joy – is a toast to drinking and conviviality. So, too, are the songs: ‘The Jug of Punch’, ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, ‘The Parting Glass’, ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ (made famous by the Dubliners) and many more.


      The Irish song, An Bonnán Buí, written by Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Gunna, so called because its writer went out one cold winter’s day and found a bittern, dead because it was unable to drink from a frozen lake. Here are two verses translated from the Irish by Thomas McDonagh, executed in 1916: ‘The yellow bittern that never broke out/In a drinking bout might as well have drunk/His bones are thrown on a naked stone/Where he lived alone like a hermit monk/ O yellow bittern, I pity your lot/Though they say that a sot like myself is curs’t/I was sober awhile, but I’ll drink and be wise/For fear I should die in the end of thirst’.


      Catholic tradition from early times required Lent to be a time of abstinence from meat and general mortification of the flesh, so much so that in 1563 the Council of Trent decreed that no marriage should be solemnised during that period. In one respect, however, the cardinals and bishops veered towards leniency, causing the people to say: ‘Good luck and long life to the Council of Trent. For it took away meat, but left us the drink’.


      The schoolteacher and diarist, Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin, who lived in Callan, Co. Kilkenny, describes a meatless St. Patrick’s Day feast he shared with the local parish priest and some friends in 1829: “We dined on fresh cod, salted ling, smoked salmon, fresh trout with green cabbage and fragrant cheese, served with white wine, port, whiskey and punch in plenty.”


      Although trading brought wine and brandy to Ireland from early times, the earliest indigenous strong drink was mead (mid). Made by fermenting honey, water and herbs, it took a large amount of honey to make even small amounts of mead, so it conferred more prestige on those who served it rather than just beer. In an old Irish story, ‘The Vision of MacCon Glinne’, mead is described as ‘the relish of noble stock’, and the banqueting hall at Tara, seat of the High Kings, was known as ‘the house of the mead-circuit’.

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        xx

        Dave Mullen recalls the day the ill-fated boat Pride of Cratlagh sailed from Purteen Harbour to its doom, carrying five members of the Shark Island film company, of which only Hugh Falkus, who swam 1.5 miles in freezing waters to a shark boat, survived.

         

        Back in the 1950s when you’d go to the pictures, there would often be a short film, a featurette, of around half an hour in length, shown before the main feature. When a film crew of six arrived on Achill Island off Co. Mayo in May, 1951, the film they were there to shoot, Shark Island, was one of those featurettes.


        Sadly, out of those six people that crossed the bridge at Achill Sound, only two would leave the island alive as a result of a tragic accident whilst filming at sea.


        The crew was made up of a series of remarkable individuals. Claire Mullan, was a young actress of 20 from Dublin working on her first film. Charles Osborne was a Donegal fisherman in his 30s who had settled on Achill some years previously with his family and, in addition to being the film’s fixer and location manager, was also one of the lead actors.


        Bill Brendon was a talented cameraman with a bright future ahead of him. Sam Lee (50), the film’s director, was referred to in his obituary as Britain’s greatest stuntman who had made a living from jumping off trains and even, once, the Eiffel Tower!
        Hugh Falkus was a producer and the other lead actor, who had been a Spitfire pilot shot-down over Dunkirk before being captured by the Germans and spending the war in P.O.W. camps, eventually escaping ten days before the war ended and going-on to become a brilliant nature filmmaker.


        Diana Falkus, 27, married Hugh shortly before work on Shark Island began and she had written the storyline for the film as well as working on the continuity.


        Shark-fishing on Achill at the time was a big industry, employing dozens of men. Although the business had moved-on a bit from the Hemingway-style of men in little currachs firing harpoons at giant, lorry-sized basking sharks, this style of fishing was still a recent memory and it was this that caught Hugh Falkus’ imagination when he’d heard about it from a BBC radio talk by Charles Osborne in 1950.


        Shark Island was to tell the story of a young Englishman, Peter (played by Falkus) inheriting part of a family fishing concern on Achill and coming to Ireland to learn the ways of shark harpooning alongside his cousins Seán (Osborne) and Kathleen (Mullan).

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          22/6/2005 Theo English (left) pictured in action with Christy Ring. Collect picture Dylan Vaughan.

          Considered by many to be the greatest hurler of all time, this gifted sportsman from East Cork won eight All-Ireland Senior Hurling medals as well as a plethora of other titles and awards throughout his 23-year career, writes Sean Creedon.

           

          How oft I’ve watched him from the hill move here and there in grace,
          In Cork, Killarney, Thurles town or by the Shannon’s race;
          ‘‘Now Cork is bet; the hay is saved!’’ the thousands wildly sing,
          They speak too soon, my sweet garsun, for here comes Christy Ring.

           

          Some lines from a poem by Bryan McMahon which sum up Cork hurling supporters’ love and reliance for the legendary Christy Ring, who died at the age of 58, 40 years ago this month.


          Who is the greatest hurler of all-time? That’s a topic often debated when hurling aficionados meet. Was it Ring, Mick Mackey, D.J. Carey, Henry Shefflin or maybe current star Joe Canning?


          Christy Ring was born on October 30, 1920 in Kilboy, about a mile from the village of Cloyne in East Cork. He was the second youngest son of Nicholas and Mary (Lawton). He had two brothers, Willie John and Paddy Joe and two sisters Katie and Mary Agnes.


          Christy’s father Nicholas worked as a gardener for local landowners. When Christy was six or seven the family moved from Kilboy to Spittal Street, Cloyne – known to locals as ‘Spit Lane.’ One of the benefits of moving to ‘Spit Lane’ was that there was a GAA pitch behind their house.


          Christy’s father Nicholas had hurled for Cloyne and he gave his son a love for the game by giving him a lift to various local games on the crossbar of his bike.


          In an interview with Donncha Ó Dúlaing for RTÉ shortly before he died, Christy said that he was out on that pitch practising every chance he got – after school, after Mass, after games. Christy told Ó Dúlaing that his first memory of hurling was listening to the 1931 All-Ireland hurling final between Cork and Kilkenny on Radio Éireann.


          Back in the thirties there was no organised juvenile hurling or football fixtures, so Christy played for the Cloyne minors from the age of 14 on. However, Cloyne didn’t have enough players to maintain a minor team and he joined the St Enda’s club in Midleton with whom he won a Cork Minor Hurling title in 1938.


          Christy had made the Cork minor team in 1937, but was a sub in the final which was played in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, where the young boy from East Cork didn’t see any game time.


          The following year Ring lined out at right half-back on the Cork team that beat Dublin in the All-Ireland Minor Final at Croke Park. Even though he played in the backs, the young man clearly had plenty of confidence in his ability when it came to free taking. With ten minutes left to play and Cork’s lead reduced to two points, it was expected that captain Kevin McGrath would take a 21-yard free awarded to the Rebels. But up stepped the wing back to take the free and he blasted the slitoar to the net.

          Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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            To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, June McDonnell looks at the life of the legendary Annie Londonderry, the first woman to cycle around the world 125 years ago.

            Annie Cohen was born in Latvia in the 1870s. The exact date of her birth is unknown. Her parents, Levi and Beatrice, and four other siblings moved to the United States when Annie was a young child. Sometime later they got citizenship.


            The family moved into a tenement in Spring Street, Boston, a large house they shared with several other families. Life was difficult for the Cohen family. Tragedy struck when their father died in 1887 and two years later their mother passed away.


            In 1888 Annie met and married Max Kopchovsky. They had three children in quick succession, Mollie, Libbie and Simon. Bennett, her older brother, also married and had two children. Both families lived in the tenement in Spring Street and helped look after the two younger Cohen children.


            Max Kopchovsky, a devout Orthodox Jew, worked as a ‘Peddler’. To help with the household bills Annie worked selling advertising space for several daily Boston newspapers.


            Around this time bicycles and cycling was becoming popular. A Harvard student, using the pseudonyn ‘Paul Jones’ claimed to have cycled around the world. This claim proved to be fake.


            However, it did give rise to the idea of attempting to cycle around the world. It is reported that two wealthy Boston men bet $20,000 that no woman would – or could – cycle around the world in fifteen months and earn $5,000 in sponsorship along the way.


            The two men were Dr. Albert Reeder, a physician with a medical office in Boston’s Park Square, and Colonel Albert Pope, the owner of Pope Manufacturing Company of Boston and Hartford, a company that produced ‘Columbia Bicycles’.

            Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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              By Con McGrath

              When war puts fathers and sons in the same battle, one question is inevitable: Will either or both survive?


              In the closing stages of World War Two, an Irish-American family by the name of Fenton, encountered first hand that very question. This occurred when Colonel (later Brigadier General) Francis I. Fenton, as well as his son Mike, were sent to fight on the Pacific island of Okinawa.


              The subsequent fighting which occurred here between the Imperial Japanese Army, and the United States Marine and Army forces, was long and bloody.


              Regretfully, young Mike Fenton lost his life in the fight. A photograph, taken of Col. Fenton attending the burial of his son, remains one of the most poignant images to come out of that period of history.


              Francis Ivan Fenton was born 11 Aug 1892. In August 1917, during World War One, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. It would prove to be the beginning of his career in the Marine Forces.


              Francis I. Fenton married Mary Kelly. The couple would have two sons: Francis I. Fenton who was born on September 29th, 1922 in Los Angeles County, California; and Michael James ‘Mike’ Fenton who was born on November 30th, 1925 in Solano County, California. The boys were raised Irish Catholic and instilled with a love of their country and their heritage.


              As a career Marine officer, Francis I. Fenton, Sr., would be deployed for any amount of time, or the family may be together but would move every few years. The 1930 US Census shows the family living on the Navy Base in Guam in the Pacific.


              Francis I. Fenton, Sr., gradually rose through the ranks and by World War Two, he became division engineer officer of the 1st Marine Division in July 1944. With this unit, Fenton won a Bronze Star for duty at the Battle of Peleliu before landing on Okinawa.

              WHILE Colonel Fenton advanced to higher command, his younger son, Michael, enlisted in the Marine Corps on August 17, 1943, and joined B Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division – the same division in which his father commanded the engineers. Reportedly turning down a commission so he could fight at the front, Michael served as a scout-sniper on the island of Okinawa.


              Father and son met once during the fighting when their paths crossed at a partially destroyed Okinawan farmhouse. After exchanging news from home, including information on Michael’s older brother, Francis, Jr., who had been commissioned a Marine officer in 1941, the two family members returned to their work.


              They would never talk again.

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                qwer

                For 50 years Sunday Miscellany has provided the nation with its musings, music and most importantly memories, writes Eileen Casey.

                When Sunday Miscellany’s first radio broadcast went on air in November 1968, a reviewer declared it a ‘dead-zone’ and that ‘it would never take off’.


                Time has proven that nothing could be further from the truth. Fifty years on, supported by The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), RTÉ’s Sunday Miscellany is now in the top ten of radio favourites. Those familiar with the programme are committed fans.
                From the moment the programme’s signature music (Galliard Ballagia)plays its glorious opening notes to the final credits, this totally engaging radio show creates a textured delight of ‘mind pictures’.

                Radio by its nature, undoubtedly provides an intimate space, a one-to-one relationship between the voice and the listener, but to keep that listener on board the 700-800 word essay must grab and hold the attention from the very beginning. On Sunday Miscellany, the author reads his/her own work which adds an extra layer of enjoyment.


                I ask Sarah Binchy, the current producer of the programme, to try and define a typical gem. However, even before the question is asked I know that the answer will not be definitive, that although gems are sifted from the huge submission postbag, their appeal isn’t easily pinned down. For one thing, there’s no formula as such.

                “The pieces we receive are really akin to a portrait of the country through the prism of writing,” this confident, friendly, young woman tells me and yes, that’s a solid enough definition but I’d like a bit more, so I press her further.


                “A piece is more than the sum of its parts,” she adds but, sensing I’m still not completely satisfied, she elaborates; “a piece can be funny, wry, nostalgic…or sometimes, as they come to me, scripts speak to each other, a conversation is begun which usually translates to a very satisfying, organic programme.


                “There’s a synchronism about the selection also,” she adds, warming to her subject. “Sometimes I’ll think of a theme and lo and behold, pieces focused on that theme will start appearing.”


                She also cites the importance of having an accessible style and of course being in touch with what’s topical (housing problems for example are current at the moment). However, that’s not to rule out nostalgic memory pieces, which are popular with listeners.


                “Or travel writing, personal accounts of events and happenings, reportage, appreciations, poetry.” Although poetry is a relatively recent addition to the programme, it’s proving to be a highlight.


                One such contributor poet is Jane Clarke, who says that while growing up, “Sunday Miscellany was the soundtrack to the Sunday morning tasks before church.”

                Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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                  By Eamonn Duggan

                  The best known and probably the most notorious of the ‘Big Four’ was undoubtedly Dan Breen who managed to maintain a presence in Irish republicanism for decades even beyond the War of Independence and the Civil War as a Fianna Fáil member of Dáil Éireann. He was totally committed to the republican ideal throughout his life and he abhorred the very notion that there should be any British influence on the island of Ireland.


                  Dan Breen was born on 11 August, 1894, in Grange, Donohill, County Tipperary, into a very poor family and he lost his father when he was just six years old. He had a minimal education in the local school before becoming a plasterer and subsequently a linesman with the Great Southern Railway.


                  He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1912 and the Irish Volunteers in 1914 and he always saw himself as “a soldier first and foremost” and he would become an iconic figure in both the War of Independence and the Civil War.


                  Breen’s first involvement in the independence conflict came on 21 January, 1919, when he participated in the Soloheadbeg ambush of a RIC convoy transporting explosives to a local quarry. Two RIC constables, James McDonnell and Patrick O’Connell, were killed in the ambush which is generally accepted as the first engagement of the War of Independence.


                  The deaths of the policemen upset many people but Breen saw their demise as an inevitable cost of the conflict. He later recalled that they “took the action deliberately, having thought over the matter and talked it over between us. Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war, so we intended to kill some of the police whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces….The only regret that we had following the ambush was that there were only two policemen in it, instead of the six we expected.”

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                    By MJ Wells

                    “We’re not getting any younger.” ‘Did you have to say that?’ is my usual response. At least they said ‘we’. Really, it’s a euphemism for ‘we’re all getting older’.
                    To a youngster of school age, it could be an encouraging remark; at least for me it would have been: I couldn’t wait to get older and leave the school gates closed behind me forever.


                    Although sometimes I look back now with some affection: a sort of rose- tinted-glasses affection that fails to see the dull times, the boring times, but picks up happier events all coloured by the knowledge not getting any younger didn’t seem so cataclysmic then.


                    Not getting any younger held out the promise of something better.Probably, it was a longing for ‘freedom’ associated with adulthood. Trivial things seemed so desirable: staying up till the early hours of the morning – going to bed, and getting up when you wanted.

                    There always seemed to be pleasures you were too young for. You could only attend a ‘U’ certificate movie, probably Disney, unaccompanied.
                    Not getting any younger would mean you weren’t just content with ‘pocket money’, generous though that was if you got any, but you would soon earn ‘big’ money yourself.


                    What of the school holidays, especially the long summer ones? You realised that happy, liberated adults were working full-time, Monday to Friday from at least nine till five, and often Saturday mornings as well. Then, being at school didn’t seem to bother you.


                    The observation ‘we’re not getting any younger’ naturally applies to everyone: even a newborn baby of one day, will be two days tomorrow.

                    Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

                     

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                      By David Flynn

                      This is the one tv series that everybody knows about. Friends was very popular when it was on the television airwaves, and you didn’t have to watch it to know the characters and even the storylines because the series was a regular talking point among workplace colleagues and in the everyday media.


                      Friends was one of the most well-liked tv comedy series ever produced in America. Today its many episodes are still screened daily throughout the world.


                      It was a sitcom very much about New York of the 1990s and early 2000s. It featured six single characters aged from their mid-20s to mid-30s that were working in the city, and were busy in their spare time with their love lives. They also seemed to hang out with each other in a busy coffee shop called Central Perk.
                      The six actors were almost total unknowns before they starred on the Friends pilot episode, but they quickly became among the best known Hollywood stars of the past twenty-five years.


                      Jennifer Aniston played Rachel, Courteney Cox played Monica, Lisa Kudrow played Phoebe, Matt LeBlanc played Joey, Matthew Perry played Chandler and David Schwimmer played Ross.


                      The three male and three female characters had many romances throughout the hit series ten-year run, and by the time the series ended, two couples (after many flirtations) emerged from the group.


                      Friends premiered on NBC in America in Autumn 1994, and became an instant hit on Thursday nights at 8.30 pm, partly because it had no great competition except for the crime series, Due South, on ABC. Friends was helped by coming on after another hit comedy, Mad About You, and it was on just before the classic sitcom, Seinfeld.

                      Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

                       

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