From The Archives

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Jim Fogarty takes a look at the wondrous book that is the Old Moore’s Almanac, making curious predictions since 1764

The first day of any year is a favourite for physics, fortune tellers, astrologists, and many others said to have the gift of predicting the future in the fast lane. By covering a wide range of subjects, they often get a few correct! Probably by luck, rather than and untold gifts. We all like to take a brief look into the future!


But one of the most famous predictors is Old Moore’s Almanac which has stood the test of time. Its founder, Theophilus Moore, (Offaly-born) was aged about 30 when he went to Dublin and ran a classical academy at Milltown on the outskirts of Dublin. He became known as a clever mathematician and a veritable wizard of astrology, and taught mathematics and classics as well as astronomy and astrology.


He published his Old Moore’s Almanac for the first time in 1764. It was such a success that it outshone other such publications of the era. He is buried in the Drumcondra Churchyard, in Dublin.


The perceived accuracy of the predictions gave Old Moore’s Almanac its staying power. Theophilus Moore himself was said to have had a great skill in prophecy, and subsequent editors made sure that whoever did the predictions was good at it.

There are famous examples of predictions coming true in the past which made readers take notice. The present in-house psychic remains anonymous, preferring to stay away from the public glare.


The many copycat editions raised the ire of the real Old Moore’s Almanac publishers. In fact the editors of the time often wrote to newspapers complaining about it.

Continue reading in the New Year Annual 2018

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By Liam Nolan

The gun should never have been left lying around in the first place. Making the carelessness even worse was that it was loaded. With two unsupervised eight-year-old boys messing with it, something catastrophic was bound to happen. It did.
Young Brignon squeezed the trigger. There was a loud, sharp, crack, a whiff of gun smoke, a gush of blood, and an eruption of high, hard screechy-screaming.


Placide Cappeau, a son of winemakers and barrel makers, was suddenly and excruciatingly on his way to becoming permanently one-handed. The bullet destroyed his right hand, which had to be amputated. That put paid to any idea that when he grew up he would become a cooper like his dad. Jacques Brignon, father of the boy who accidentally shot Placide, was distraught. In an attempt to make amends, he offered the Cappeau family financial support for the education of their amputee son.
The handgun incident happened in 1816 in the small town of Roquemaure, about seven-and-a-half miles north of Avignon in the south of France.


Placide was accepted by the College Royal d’Avignon. There, at the age of 17, he won first prize in drawing. Subsequently he studied literature in Nimes, and in 1831 he obtained a law degree in Paris. But he never practiced law. Instead, in Roquemaure he became a wine merchant whose main hobby was writing verse.


A competent enough poet, he never achieved widespread literary success or fame, though he was well known enough locally to get himself elected mayor of the town.
Born and brought up a Catholic, he had drifted away from religion, only rarely attended Mass, and in conversations with people directed a lot of biting criticism at the Roman Catholic clergy in general.


The parish priest of Roquemare was close to giving up on him, especially when Cappeau began to publicly espouse socialism.


However, in what proved to be a last throw of the dice in attempting to draw Cappeau (right) back into the bosom of Mother Church, in 1847 the priest asked him to write a Christmas poem for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The priest also asked him to take it to one of France’s most famous and successful composers, Adolphe Adam, for a musical setting.


Cappeau felt both puzzled and flattered, and told the priest he would do his best to come up with something suitable. For reference, he turned to Luke’s gospel about the birth of Christ, reasoning that it would give him an authoritative framework on which he might base his poem.


Then, on December 3rd of that year, during a long, bumpy and swaying journey by coach from Roquemare to Paris, he began the task of putting words on paper. It was on the section between the cities of Macon and Dijon that he did the bulk of the work. By the time the coach trundled into Paris, he had completed it. He gave it the title Cantique de Noel (Song of Christmas).


What he had done was to imagine what it would have been like to witness the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. When he read and re-read what he had written, he felt deeply moved by the words.


Now he had to get the poem to Adolphe Adam, whose theatrical successes included the ballets Faust, and Giselle, and La Fille du Danub. Adam (pictured below) had been commissioned to compose orchestral works and ballets that were performed in faraway St Petersburg, and in Berlin and London. He was at the height of his fame.
Into his hands now came Cappeau’s poem, and, given its subject matter and the beautiful style of is writing, it presented him with a challenge unlike any he had been presented with before.


He spent three weeks perfecting his composition, and ended up with what is frequently called a heartbreakingly beautiful piece of music.


Cappeau took the song back to Roquemare and handed it over to the parish priest, who was overcome with awe and gratitude.


He contacted a Parisian opera singer who lived locally, and at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, she gave the first public performance of the carol that would become known as O Holy Night, and would be (and is) sung tearfully and with reverence all over the world.


The congregation at that Midnight Mass loved the carol, and within a short time it won the hearts and approval of people all over France. The Catholic Church in France originally endorsed its use in Christmas ceremonies.


And then something strange happened. The church authorities denounced the carol. Placide Cappeau had denounced the Catholic Church and joined the socialist movement, and Adolphe Adam was found to have had Jewish ancestry. The reasons given by the church authorities for banning Cantique de Noel were: “its lack of musical taste”! and “total absence of the spirit of religion.”! But the common people disregarded the denunciation. They wouldn’t let the song die. Cantique de Noel continued to be sung at Christmas ceremonies all over France.


An extraordinary happening during the 1870/’71 Franco-Prussian War was allegedly the reason the Catholic Church authorities received the song back into religious ceremonies. During a lull in battle, a French soldier jumped up out of his trench, stood in full view, and sang Cantique de Noel. Not one shot was fired at him. The Germans were so moved that one of their soldiers then stood up and sang one of Martin Luther’s hymns. Nobody fired a shot at him either. It resulted in the armies of both sides honouring a 24-hour Christmas truce.


The English words of O Holy Night were written by an American named John Sullivan Dwight who introduced the song to America.


And on Christmas Eve, 1906, O Holy Night became the first song ever broadcast over the radio when Reginald Fassenden played it when experimenting with a microphone and the telegraph.


I first heard the song as a youngster on a crisp starry night in Cobh when boy soprano Jack Kelly sang it in the cathedral. I can still hear in my head his beautiful, clear, true voice, and it breaks my heart, as O Holy Night will this year again, and I’ll cry when I listen to Jussi Bjorling, and precious memories from all the years flood through me.

From our Christmas Annual 2017

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John Lennon Cohen recalls how his mother’s touch made Christmas a special time in his home

 

For some reason we always called Santa, Santie. Perhaps it’s an Irish or Dundalk colloquialism. A version of him used to sit outside Parks’ shop in Clanbrassil Street in Dublin, which was a café, as well as a sweet shop. I was always a little nervous of him and after my visit to him was over, and I had told him specifically what I would like for Christmas, we made our way to Toyland in Bachelors Walk.


Well, my eyes lit up when we went inside for I never saw such an array of toys in all my life and all in the one place.


To me and my sisters it was heaven, an Aladdin’s cave for there were toy train sets, cars, cowboy suits, guns, soldiers, dolls and prams, board games and every conceivable toy you could think of.


I picked a cowboy suit, which consisted of trousers with special trimmings running down the sides and a waistcoat, which also had the special trimmings and of course to complete the outfit, the cowboy hat with a silver star. I tried it on and with the silver gun, sure I thought I was the Lone Ranger.


In the hustle and bustle of the run up to the big day, my mother found time to bake a Christmas cake and pudding and we always knew that the big day was fast approaching when she had the currents, raisins, sultanas, flour, and the mixing bowl out on the table as we came in from school.


We all were invited to turn the mixture of the pudding three times and then we could make a wish, an old tradition I expect!

Closer to the day we would go to James Wood’s fruit and vegetable shop in Church Street to purchase our Christmas tree that was just freshly cut from the forest. I don’t think that artificial trees were on the go then. Why a ‘fruit and veg’ shop sold trees is beyond me but I suppose they had a good name to sell trees.


Once this task was completed, we knew it was a reality and the great day would very soon arrive. So we then began to adorn our humble abode with paper decorations that straddled the ceiling and holly with red berries embellished every hanging picture that could be seen.


We would then dress the tree with tinsel, coloured sparkling balls and fairy lights and last of all the Angel Gabriel took pride of place on top of the tree.


Of course a small crib and a red candle were placed in the window.


The candle was lit late into the evening on Christmas Eve and this was to show the way for the Holy Family and to let them know that they were welcome in our house.
The effigy of the baby Jesus could not be placed in the crib until after midnight on Christmas Eve, and this signalled our cue to go to bed.


We were never permitted to let the tradition of Christmas or its true meaning, the birth of Jesus Christ, go, despite all the commercialism especially in later years and my mother made sure of that. After saying our prayers we were tucked into bed and tried to get to sleep.


The morning announced her arrival with a brightness that peeped in through a gap in the curtains to partially light up my room – the big day had arrived.


With eyes still closed tight I crawled deep down into my bed and with my feet rummaged about the bottom to investigate whether any presents were left and hoping at the same time that I didn’t get a bag of cinders that were always promised to bold naughty boys.


You see ‘Santie’ in our house always left our presents at the bottom of our beds and not under the tree and I think that it was a more personal touch to have him visit our own room. I got exactly what I wanted, a cowboy suit and a gun and holster. My sisters got exactly what they asked for too.


Mother made breakfast and then we prepared to go to Mass. As we walked up to Saint Nicholas Church our hearts were still pounding with that much pleasure that Mother had to subdue us so that we could compose ourselves for the ceremony.


The church was beautifully decorated with garlands and had a huge crib. Mother cried at the mass as the choir sang ‘Oh Holy Night’ as she was probably thinking of times past and her deceased parents who would have taken her as a young girl to the same ritual. When the Mass was over we went and said a prayer at the crib and Mother took a piece of straw for each of us, told us to keep it in our pockets and we would never be short of money, another old tradition I assume.


Then we walked home, our minds filled with images of the magnificent traditional Irish Christmas dinner that our mother had worked hard to prepare for us. My mother made a very bad situation good for us children, sheltering us from a cruel reality that she hid by placing it firmly and entirely upon her own shoulders and by doing so she made us oblivious of our dire situation. Who else but a loving mother would do such things for her children? She made Christmas special.

Read more Christmas memories in the Ireland’s Own Christmas Annual 2017

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By Mairead Doohan

Sitting on a bench here in Dundrum Town Centre on the shortest day of the year waiting for some friends to have a pre-Christmas coffee.


It somehow feels like the longest day of the year in this crowded centre of commerce – the human tide ebbing and flowing but never stopping. People shopping, spending, eating, drinking, speaking to one another, speaking on their mobile phones – the endless hum of humanity.


I think back to the Christmas shopping of my youth and the names of the local shopkeepers come flooding back, the butcher, the shoemaker, the genial farrier, the pub owners, the draper, the Banks, the Hall, with its brass band and regular dances.
Christmas was a quiet time then, a family time. The various shopkeepers would reward their regular customers with a Christmas Box, and the Clergy would be busy in the confessionals! Long queues would form outside the confession boxes. You would know the ‘easy’ priest who wouldn’t ask too many questions and give short penances!
He would always have the longest queue at his box! Confessions would last about three hours over two nights, for in those days you couldn’t receive Holy Communion without first going to Confession. Children’s confessions would be heard earlier in the day. It’s a long time now since I saw queues outside any confessionals!


Mass would be at midnight, reputedly the hour of Christ’s birth, and the Church would be packed. It is an abiding memory of mine walking to Mass on frosty Christmas Eve nights with my family, the frost crunching under our feet, and the prospect of a snow fight on the way home – plus the dream of a visit from Santa Claus later!
We didn’t need Bing Crosby to help us dream of a white Christmas!


The tradition was that the youngest child in the house would light the Christmas candle which would be placed in the window as a welcome to Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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By Anne Bevan (from the Ireland’s Own Christmas Annual)

 

A poignant tale of a Christmas letter never sent, and another not received…

 

The postman pushed his bicycle up the rough track to the old cottage door, his head bent against the wind.


“Hello Mrs. Murphy, hardy day out,” he said to the lady sheltering behind the slightly open door.


“Come in, come in,” she said. “Will you have a cup of tea, ah you will, to warm you for the journey.”


He sat at the kitchen table, knowing he had no use refusing.


“It’s beginning to snow out there, I won’t stay long today,” he said.
Mrs. Murphy didn’t get many visitors these days; all the old ones were gone now. Still, she loved the wireless and the very rare letter she got from that son of hers in New York; that and the postman’s visits kept her going.


“There you are now,” she said, handing him the cup and saucer; she never used mugs, ruined a lovely cup of tea, she said.


“Have a biscuit Dermot,” she said, proffering the plate of USA biscuits.
“I’ve a letter for you to post, to Daniel in New York; I haven’t finished writing the address yet. Will you take it with you?”


“I will,” Dermot replied, sipping the scalding tea and feeling glad now that he had come in.


“Good, good,” she muttered to herself, as she pottered about the kitchen looking for a pen.


“These biros are no use, not like the old pens used to be, the last one leaked all over the table. It was ruined only for the oilcloth.”


Finishing his tea, Dermot stood up and blessed himself.


“I’ll collect that letter from you tomorrow Mrs. Murphy, I’m anxious to get home today, the baby is nearly due and Katy is a little nervous on her own,” he said.

“Okay Dermot,” she replied, “safe home.”

In the morning the snow had stopped and Dermot made his way in bright sunshine; he called to Mrs. Murphy. He knocked at the door and waited but there was no sign of the old woman.

Continue reading in this year’s Christmas Annual

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The year 1917 has long been viewed as one of changing political attitudes and loyalties. The watershed year witnessed the emergence of a new political phenomenon in the guise of Sinn Fein at the expense of the long dominant Irish Parliamentary Party. As the year came to an end and with four by-election victories under their belts Irish republicans confidently looked forward to realising their long held dream of achieving independence,
writes Eamonn Duggan.

During the last few weeks of 1917 most people across Ireland began to reflect on a year that was notable, not for the violence of the previous year, but for the obvious change in the country’s political direction. The year saw the beginning of the end for the dominant political party of the previous forty years, the Irish Parliamentary Party, and the emergence of an altogether different and much more vibrant political force, Sinn Féin.


The new party, led by Éamon de Valera, was embraced by an increasingly politically astute electorate determined to effect a profound change in the way the country was governed. It voiced its opinion through the ballot box on four occasions during the year returning, each time, a Sinn Féin candidate and creating a momentum which culminated in a stunning Sinn Féin general election victory in December 1918.
However, as the long dark days of 1917 came to an end and the events of the following year were yet to unfold, the majority of the people, not only in Ireland but also across Europe, fervently hoped that the fourth Christmas of the Great War would be the very last one.


While conflict still raged on the continent, Ireland enjoyed what was a relatively peaceful year as political activity took centre stage. The year saw the emergence of a new and youthful leadership dedicated to removing British rule and establishing a republican administration in its place. Many of those who came to public notice during the year had played their part in the Easter Rising and had spent some time after it incarcerated in British prisons or camps where they had time to plan for the next stage of the struggle for independence.


The general consensus which emerged in republican circles was that for the time being long term political victories were more important than any short term gains that might be achieved through acts of violence against British forces or representatives in Ireland. The violence of the Easter Rising and its aftermath had taken a toll on everyone and there was a need, not only for a new approach to win over the political hearts and minds of the populace, but also a need for a period of time to reflect on what future direction the country should take.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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Best selling author Michael Harding recalls some of his festive memories including his favourite Christmas, in 1992, when he was snowed in deep in bog country with just his heavily pregnant wife for company, and a roaring fire to keep them both safe and warm.

 

Michael Harding sees Christmas as a beacon of light in the bleakness of darkest winter. He also sees it as a metaphor for family life, and has the fondest of memories of his own childhood growing up in Cavan.


“The Christmas meal was a big deal, as we always got a lovely leg of turkey,” he recalls. “You would get white meat on occasion during the rest of the year but the turkey was special. It was also tricky to cook and I have a lot of memories of the turkey going wrong.


“In recent years we have moved away from the tradition of turkey at Christmas as the novelty has kind of worn off. We had Indian food one year, and steak another. I’m not sure what we’ll have this year.”


Michael also embraces the religious side of Christmas, and is particularly drawn to the story of Mary and Joseph, struck by the lack of welcome they received when they arrived in Bethlehem.


“One of my most special memories of Christmas as a child was the Christmas crib,” he says. “Someone else in the family got the job of putting up the tree but I set up the crib, at the bottom of the stairs, and I became very engaged with the story. I was intrigued by this family of outcasts and how they had to sleep in the byre.
“I think of the crib today when I hear stories of the immigrants in Ireland and how they have to live in direct provision centres, at times up to six or seven years or longer, and how difficult a time it must be for them before they are free to fully integrate into our society.


“I remember setting a light up at the back of the crib and pretending it was a stage and shining a spotlight on the different characters in it as I made up stories using the figurines.”

Continue reading in this year’s Christmas Annual

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In an extract from his new book On This Day Vol 2: Irish Histories from Drivetime on RTÉ Radio 1, Myles Dungan recalls how The Pogue’s Christmas classic was kept off Number One 30 years ago. Can you name the song that beat them to the coveted Christmas No. 1 slot in the UK?

Back in 2001, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the establishment of 2RN, forerunner of Radio Éireann and RTÉ Radio, this station conducted two separate polls to attempt to find the seventy-five most beloved Irish songs. One was a poll of music professionals conducted through IMRO, the Irish Music Rights Organisation, the other was a reader/listener poll conducted through the RTÉ Guide. The results were varied, but there was absolute unanimity about the number one song.


Written by Shane MacGowan and Jem Finer of the Pogues, and sung by MacGowan and the extraordinary Kirsty MacColl, ‘Fairytale of New York’ has become a Christmas anti-classic all over the world. In the UK it is the most-played Christmas song of the twenty-first century. It’s also, arguably, the greatest song not to have reached number one in the British pop charts.


The song had its origins two years before its release. As with most of the mythology surrounding the ‘Fairytale’, there is disagreement about how it began. One version suggests that Elvis Costello jokingly challenged the Pogues, the least sentimental group of all time – outside of The Clash – to write a Christmas hit.

Continue reading in the Ireland’s Own Christmas Annual

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A Tribute to Jimmy Magee

In 1994, I was a seventeen-year-old journalism student asked to interview someone famous as part a college project. New to how the journalism game worked, and also a sports nut, I rang the RTE receptionist to ask if I could speak to Jimmy Magee. “One moment, Sir,” the lady replied, and put me through to the sports desk. Jimmy cheerfully answered the phone, and I explained what I had been asked to do. “No problem at all, young man,” was his reply. There and then, he gave me a half-hour interview, and could not have been more courteous. He will be remembered as a gentleman, and commentating great. The following is an interview he did for Ireland’s Own in 2012. 

Shea Tomkins

 

A voice for the ages

In the summer of 2012, over one million viewers turned on their television sets to witness golden girl, Katie Taylor, punch her way to Olympic glory, at the ExCel Arena in London. For those nerve-wracking eighteen minutes that it took Bray’s first lady to see off her dogged Russian opponent, a familiar voice carried us through the twists and turns of the pulsating battle – the same voice that has now described the explosive action at eleven summer Olympics, and twelve World Cups.

Coming across loud and clearly over Irish airwaves for over half a century, Jimmy Magee has established himself as the country’s very own Memory Man, though he insists the title was bestowed upon him, and wasn’t self-appointed. The County Louth man has also become famous in sporting circles around the world, celebrated for the credence he gives to the Irish-associated expression of having the ‘gift of the gab’. When it comes to having the right words to suit any sports occasion, Jimmy Magee is your man.

Today, on a quiet Friday afternoon in late autumn, Jimmy has a touch of a cold which was brought on by the unpredictable weather we have been experiencing this year. Other than that he is in sparkling form, as he reflects on a life that up to now has been never short of excitement.

‘These days if people stop me on the street they want to congratulate me on the London Olympics and talk about Katie,’ he says, ‘or whatever sporting event is coming up that weekend. They like to hear my thoughts on who I think is going to win the All-Ireland final or who I think should be in the Irish soccer team. I don’t really follow any particular soccer team but I like seeing the game played properly, so I enjoy watching the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid at the moment.’

Jimmy knew Katie Taylor had the potential to become an Olympic champion long ago. Back in March 2009, he remembers watching her wow an 02 Arena audience when she appeared on the same bill as Bernard Dunne. He cheered her on, affectionately, while she clocked up European and World titles and is proud to have been present when she made history by becoming the first Irish woman to win an Olympic medal for boxing in London. In his opinion, she is Ireland’s greatest contemporary sportsperson.

When his parents Patrick and Rose Magee packed their suitcases and took their not yet three-year-old son out of New York to start a new life across the Atlantic Sea, they had no idea that he would grow up to become one of Ireland’s best loved sports commentators. Jimmy was born in the Bronx in 1935, the eldest of four children but grew up in Ireland, enjoying an idyllic childhood in the Carlingford-Greenore area of rural Louth.

As a boy, he remembers trekking across the fields to visit his grandfather who lived on the side of a mountain and talking to himself, pretending that he was commentating on a GAA game that was taking part in Croke Park that weekend. He even sang some live music to accompany the report, as he also had aspirations to become a disc jockey. Inspired by such legendary commentators as Micheal O’Hehir, Stewart McPherson, John Arlott and Raymond Glendenning, who worked with the BBC, young Jimmy had one true goal in life – to be a sports commentator. It was a dream that he would never give up on.

‘The walks used to take me three-quarters of an hour,’ he recalls, ‘and I would have the whole thing timed to perfection. I was the imaginary presenter of Sunday Sport and I gave the news as if it was real, who was injured, the teams and all the action as it happened. When the call eventually came from RTE I was fully ready to go, because in my head I had done it all many times before.’

Tragedy struck when Jimmy was fifteen years old. His dad, who he idolised, passed away at the age of forty-three, from TB. Being the eldest, he felt it was up to him to become the man of the house and start earning some money to ease the pressure on his mother. Reluctantly, he sacrificed his education to serve his time as a pharmacist in Carlingford. He stayed there for two years before leaving for a job with British Railways, where the pay was better. After six months, he was transferred to Dublin where he managed to get his foot into Radio Eireann, and the realisation of his boyhood dream came true.

Sports broadcaster Jimmy Magee.

‘There was a guy working in RTE called Harry Thuillier who was one of their biggest stars at the time and he had a programme called Junior Sports Magazine. I pestered him a few times for an audition. Eventually he called me back and asked me to come in for a voice test. A few days later he called and said that he liked what he had heard and would I cover a game of hockey the following weekend. That was May 1956, and it was the best feeling in the world when he invited me to become a freelancer on the show.

‘I tried my hand at playing sports too. I played Gaelic football in school and even had aspirations to be a sprinter. The one hundred metre-event was my speciality and I thought I might have a chance of making one of the Olympic teams. I suffered a nasty injury when I was trying out for Dundalk football club at the age of sixteen, and that was the end of any professional sports ideas. I consoled myself with the fact that the career of a commentator outlives the career of sports stars by many years and sure the evidence stands conclusive – here I am in my seventy-seventh year and still doing what I love best.’

Jimmy met the love of his life, Marie Gallagher, at a dance in a ballroom beside the Gate Theatre in 1953. Married at the age of twenty, he feels his early foray into matrimony was the best thing that ever happened to him as it forced him to mature quickly, and also helped him to concentrate on his career. Together they had five children, two boys, Paul and Mark and three girls, Linda, June and Patricia. In 1989, Jimmy lost both his mother and Marie, his beloved wife departing this world far too soon, at the age of fifty-five. He says they would have been married for fifty eight years this year had she lived, and he openly admits feeling lonely at times since she has been gone. Work commitments and looking to the future have helped him cope with her loss, always thinking and planning for the next big sporting event. More tragedy lay in store when his son Paul succumbed to Motor Neuron Disease, a muscle wasting disease, in 2008.

‘Paul was a sports fanatic and he excelled at a number of sports including running, Gaelic Football and soccer – he played with Shamrock Rovers and won a League Cup and FAI Cup with them,’ says Jimmy. ‘He was also an international tenpin bowler. He had an extremely positive outlook on life. As strong as he was, however, it couldn’t save him.’

From covering the first all-London FA Cup Final between Tottenham and Chelsea in 1967 for RTE to watching Bayern Munich capture three European Championships in a row in 1976, or being at the golfing heaven that is the Augusta Masters, Jimmy has such a treasure chest of memories to draw from that it is pretty impossible for him to select one favourite, though Michael Carruth and Katie Taylor’s Olympic victories do get special mention.

In 1987, Jimmy and fellow RTE commentator George Hamilton teamed up to produce a TV sports quiz called Know Your Sport which ran for eleven years, striking a major chord with a mostly male audience around the country. For all the half hours women had commandeered the TV set to watch their favourite soap operas down through the years, suddenly their other halves had a reason to grip the remote control come seven o’clock on a Monday evening.  

‘I suppose Know Your Sport was where the name Memory Man first started,’ says Jimmy, ‘and it was carried on from there. It was a brilliant show and I still remember the big winner at the end of the first series. He was a very knowledgeable Waterford man called Tony Hunt, who is an uncle of the footballers Stephen and Noel Hunt. He was our first champion and won a trip to Seoul in South Korea for the Olympic Games of 1988. A few months back myself and George got together and had a chat about resurrecting the show. I’d definitely be up for it – why not?’

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