From The Archives

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The other day I bought myself tickets for Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets concert at the Convention Centre in Dublin next April.

For those who don’t know Nick Mason was the drummer in Pink Floyd and Saucerful of Secrets was one of the group’s early albums a few years before they found global fame with Dark Side of the Moon. Mason now tours with a very talented group of mainly session musicians and the band also includes Gary Kemp, formally of Spandau Ballet and the composer of all that group’s big hits from the Eighties (Gold, True etc).

Of course Pink Floyd were very much my generation of musical heroes and last year I went to see another past member of the band, Roger Waters, in concert at the Three Arena — brilliant stuff. But I’ve also been contemplating how many of today’s musical stars will still be able to sell tickets and do concert tours in fifty years’ time?

Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not going down the route of ‘it was all better in my day’. But the truth of it is, as we all know, records don’t sell any more and if there are no sales there’s no competition and therefore no proper benchmark for people to judge their musical endeavours by.

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As the Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan, Seán Creedon talks to former Irish rugby international Tony Ward about the many highs – and a few lows – of his sporting life.

The first soccer World Cup was staged in Uruguay in 1930, but it would be another 57 years before sports fans would get to experience a Rugby World Cup tournament.

The competition, which was staged in Australia and New Zealand in 1987, came too late for many of Ireland’s former rugby stars.

Players like Jack Kyle, Tony O’Reilly, Willie John McBride and Mick Gibson had to be content with the old Five Nations Championship every spring against England, Scotland, Wales and France to show what they could do.

However, Tony Ward, who has been the victim of some strange decisions by Irish Rugby selectors during his career, can tell his grandchildren that he did play for his country in the first-ever World Cup tournament.

Ward wore the number 10 jersey in the 46-19 win over Canada in Dunedin at the end of May 1987, and in the 32-9 win over Tonga at Ballymore, Brisbane in June, 1987. Paul Dean started Ireland’s first game where we were beaten by Wales and Dean was back at fly-half for the final game in our group when we lost to Australia.

The game against Tonga was to be the last of Ward’s 19 caps in an era where international players didn’t win anything like the number of caps current players do.

‘‘What I remember from that game in Ballymore was a banner on the terraces with the slogan K.R.A.M, which meant ‘Keep Rovers at Milltown’, and as a former Rovers player the banner resonated with me,’’ said Tony.

Ireland has competed at all eight Rugby World Cup tournaments and it will be nine later this month when the tournament is staged in Japan for the first time.

Our first game is against Scotland in Yokohama on September 22 and the other countries in our group are Japan, Russia and Samoa.

This time round Ward probably won’t be travelling to Japan as he took early retirement as Rugby Editor of the Irish Independent earlier this year. However, he hopes to write some columns on the tournament.
I sat down with Tony in the famous Goat Grill sporting pub in Dublin to talk about Ireland’s chances in the Rugby World Cup, but first we rolled back the years to the career of one of Ireland’s most talented rugby players, who also won an FAI Cup medal with Limerick in 1982.

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Cork’s Famous Quays

As Cork’s famous quays undergo a process of change, Maurice O’Brien takes a look back at their interesting history

Cork’s Coat of Arms bears a timeless message, namely that sea and seaport are defining features for the city.
Its accompanying motto Statio Bene Fide Carinis (translated as a safe harbour for ships) can certainly be taken as a reference to the enormous lower harbour between Cobh and Roches Point, where the greatest of modern vessels find sufficient depth to enter the calm waters away from the Atlantic and Irish Sea.

However, the age-old motto refers also to the fact that Cork city, nearly fifteen nautical miles inland, has for centuries boasted a dockland on its doorstep.

Coal boats plied to the famous Coal Quay, now part of the city centre. Bridges near the City Hall and Brian Boru Street once had opening spans to allow ships to travel to George’s Quay and Merchants Quay on the south and north channels of the River Lee respectively.

At the height of its activity the city quays occupied an extremely busy series of wharfs below and around the meeting point of the two channels. From the 1940s to the 1980s these thriving docks were at their maximum tonnage feeding the automotive, grain, livestock and fruit importation industries to mention but a few. They added colour, character, sound and spectacle to city life.

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The Dubliner was regarded as one of the greats in the Irish folk music world, writes Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh

“The Fields of Athenry”, the melancholy ballad commemorating the Great Irish Famine, has become such a standard in both concert hall and sports stadium that many people assume it’s a traditional number that has been around forever. However, the song (written by Pete St. John) is a relative newcomer, first released in 1979.

Its original singer was Danny Doyle, a giant of the Irish folk and ballad revival, who died in August of this year at the age of seventy-nine.

It was only one of many hits that Danny Doyle enjoyed here in the sixties and seventies; he topped the Irish charts on three occasions.

Perhaps Doyle’s most frequently cited achievement was to knock Abba, who were at the height of their success, from the number one spot in the Irish charts – “Take a Chance on Me” was replaced by “Dublin in the Rare Auld Times” (also written by Pete St. John) in 1978.

His other number one hits were “Whiskey on a Sunday”, (which recalls a famous street performer in Liverpool), and the touching “A Daisy a Day”, a song about the enduring love of a husband for his wife.

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As The Sunday Game celebrates forty years on TV, Seán Creedon talks to its presenter of the last eleven years Des Cahill about his love of all things sporting and his life in broadcasting.

The BBC’s Match of the Day programme, with its distinctive theme music, has been regular Saturday night viewing in many Irish homes for over 50 years. Meanwhile, for the past 40 years the strains of the James Last tune Jägerlatein has signalled the start of summer and RTE’s Sunday night GAA highlights programme, The Sunday Game.

The Sunday Game made its debut on July 8th, 1979 when RTÉ2 showed just one game, the Munster hurling final at Semple Stadium, Thurles, where Cork beat Limerick 2-14 to 0-9.

Galway-born Jim Carney and the late Bill O’Herlihy were co-presenters in the early years. The programme made the headlines when one of their analysts was former Camogie player, Liz Howard. Female analysts and female presenters are very common in 2019, but 40 years ago it was big news to have a woman on Irish television talking about sport.

Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin, who is fondly remembered for his long-running GAA results programme on Radio Éireann on Sunday nights, temporarily replaced Carney for two years, but then another Galway-man (via Waterford), Michael Lyster, took over from Carney in 1984, the GAA Centenary Year, when the programme got a revamp.

When the programme later expanded to feature live games, the Ireland’s Own columnist presented both The Sunday Game Live and The Sunday Game highlights programme later the same evening.

In 2004, when presentation of the afternoon programme moved from the RTÉ studios in Donnybrook to various venues around the country, Pat Spillane took over as presenter of the Sunday night highlights programme. Five years later the former Kerry footballer was replaced by Des Cahill.

Now well into his 11th season as presenter of the hugely popular Sunday night programme, is Des happy with the way the programme is going?

‘‘I am enjoying it. You couldn’t call it hard work because I love sport, but I am certainly kept very busy as I still do a lot of radio work also. We have great viewing figures and I don’t want to sound boastful, but our audience figures compared to Sky are not an issue. I realise that a lot of GAA people cannot afford to purchase a Sky Sports package.’’

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By Victor O’D Power

Some people don’t pay any heed at all on stories about ghosts and fairies, but, for all that, why, the ghosts are there – aye, and the ‘good people’ too – and tis many a time I met them myself, in my rambles and I had a narrow escape one time, that I wasn’t carried away into a Lis.

So let ye listen to me now for tis a true story ye’re going to hear tonight, every word of it.

Away in the Co. Kilkenny it happened, many long years ago now; and the first part of the story was told to me by Peg Reilly, who was witness to it, and the other part of it I saw with my own two eyes for myself.

Peg Reilly, at the time the queer event took place, why, was nursing a little baby belonging to one Mrs. Doherty, at a place called Ballycroney, in the parish of Glenmore; and Bid Doherty was laid up at this time, the poor craythur, with the pleurisy, so Peg was looking after the little child – a grand little girl of just thirteen months, she was, with big blue eyes and yella hair and a skin like milk, with a pink blush in each of her cheeks, for all the world as if she was painted.

Little Minnie was Bid’s first child, and the poor mother, God help her, was cracked alive about the infant.

Bid was after marrying a man old enough to be her grandfather; though, at the same time, mind you, she was mad in love with a cousin of her own – one Murtagh Walshe of Ballyreddy; but Murtagh’s people wouldn’t hear of him marrying Bid, as her fortune wasn’t big enough, and they were striving to force him to take another girl who had four hundred pounds to get.
And, faith, the end of it was that Murtagh cleared out of the country and went away to England to work; and early in the next year, Bid’s people coaxed her to marry old Micky Doherty; and, when Murtagh heard this he got reckless like, and he picked up with an Irish girl in Swansea and he married her, and, for a year and a half after that, he never wrote a line to his own people at home.

Then, one fine day, didn’t he come back to the old home, just to say goodbye to them all, as he was about to start for America – himself and his wife and their infant son. He didn’t bring the wife or the child with him, as he knew well enough that there wouldn’t be much welcome before them, why; and the day before he left his old home for America, didn’t he stroll over to Ballycroney to see his old sweetheart – Micky Doherty’s wife – once again and to bid her farewell, God help us.

Of all other places, wasn’t it just alongside of the Ballycroney rath they chanced to meet on that August evening and Bid was nursing the infant daughter and she was sitting down on the green, grassy bank under the hawthorn bushes at the edge of the rath, and she was singing a little song to the baby as Murtagh, all of a sudden, came over straight to her through the field.

And, if he did, when his eyes fell on Bid and the infant in her arms, he couldn’t keep back the tears, for the poor chap always loved her, and faith, sure poor Bid was just as bad about himself, every bit, and when she saw him crying, she took to cry too, and their hands clasped together, and not a word could they speak for fully five minutes.

And, in the end, they got a bit easier in their minds, and, when Murtagh took notice of the infant and when he saw ‘twas the living image of Bid herself, a thought darted through his mind, like a flash of lightning, and, if it did, he made no delay to follow it up.

And, “Bid girl,” says he, “since yourself and myself were disappointed about one another, the best thing we could do not is to plan out a match between your little girl here and my little son, when the two of them are of an age to get married.
“Your little girl, God bless the craythur,” says he, “is the stamp of your own self and my little son, Dannie, is the image of his father, so they tell me anyway. And ‘twould be an ease to my mind, Bid,” says the poor chap, “to know that, that even though you and myself were parted, yet our two children would be happy together, in the years to come as husband and wife.”

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By Martin Gleeson

The great playwright Brian Friel, who died in October 2015, has been described as “one of the greatest English-language dramatists”.

Originally from Knockmoyle, Co. Tyrone, Brian was the son of a primary school teacher and postmistress.

The family moved to Derry when Brian was ten years old. He received his secondary education in St. Columb’s College, a Catholic Boys’ Grammar school in Derry. Other pupils of this school include Seamus Heaney, John Hume, Phil Coulter, Paul Brad, and Richie Kavanagh. Note that the first two of these were Nobel Prize Laureates.

After training in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth and St. Joseph’s Training College, Belfast, Brian taught Mathematics in Derry but took leave in 1960 to pursue a career as a writer. He moved to Co. Donegal, settling outside Greencastle

Brian wrote 14 plays in all, many of them about the people from his fictional town of Ballybeg. He worked as a writer and journalist but his big breakthrough came in 1964 with his play Philadelphia Here I Come. This was followed by The Loves of Cass Maguire and then Lovers.

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By David Mullen

When cycle manufacturer William Morris first started building cars in Oxford in 1912, he couldn’t have foreseen that within 12 years, his company would become the largest car company in Britain.

By 1924, as the economy recovered after the First World War, 51% of all new cars sold in England had rolled out of Morris’ factory in Cowley.

It had never been a particularly innovative company, but its Bullnose model gave it a reputation for solid, dependable machines and the founder’s success would elevate him in a few short years from plain old William Morris to Lord Nuffield.

By the 1930s, models like the Morris Eight ensured that even on the eve of the war, the company was still Britain’s biggest.
When the Second World War came in 1939, car production ground to a halt. Morris, like companies all over Britain, stopped development of new cars and turned its attention to building aircraft and other equipment for the military.

The engineering department attempted (not very successfully) to come up with all kinds of new vehicles for the army. One of those engineers was a young, Turkish-born designer named Alec Issigonis.

By 1942, when it looked like the tide of the war was turning, Morris began to think about what it’d do once the war was over. After all, there hadn’t been any new cars since 1938 and once the war ended, the company would have to go back to selling old models like the Eight. Issigonis was instructed to get-going on designing a new small car, codenamed Mosquito, to go into production around 1947. He was the right man for the job as he had very strong ideas about small cars.

They were often quite cramped, which he felt was ridiculous. People who bought small cars were the same size as people who bought big ones and even if the car wasn’t big on the outside, there should still be plenty of interior space.
Prototypes were ready by 1943, but development continued right up until 1948. Shortly before the Mosquito went into production, Issigonis decided that the American-styled body was too narrow. He ordered it to be sawn in half lengthways and four inches of metal added, widening it.

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For three-quarters of a century the beautiful Skellig Islands off the southwest coast of Ireland have been the main passion of Des Lavelle’s life, as can be seen in these extracts from his book Skellig, Experience the Extraordinary.

The Skellig Islands are many times more important than either their size or location would suggest. In any world map of archaeology, the Skellig stands out in bold, conspicuous letters; similarly, in the ornithological world, the name of Skellig conveys a richness of seabird life that is not easily equaled.

And there is more: fascinating lighthouse history, magnificent cliff scenery, interesting local folklore, incredible richness in the surrounding ocean … and the many, many Skellig questions that do not have answers.

But that is only part of the motivation for this book. The real reason is that these Skellig Islands continue to fascinate me – even after some seventy-five years of visitations. I have sailed around them, flown over them and dived on every sheer underwater cliff face beneath them; I have visited them in childhood and perhaps fifty times each year from 1968 to 2014 to wander and wonder, and by researching, writing and poring over a wide variety of photographs, I can be out there immediately in spirit, savouring, as George Bernard Shaw said about the place, ‘the magic that takes you out, far out, of this time and this world.’

These spiritual visits are too wonderful to hide, but one must try to strike a balance of interest for the historian, the bird-lover, the archaeology student, the Kerryman who hungers for more knowledge of his native ground and for that day-visitor who seeks a jolt of fantasy in his life.

Legend & History
‘Like two mighty ships, sailing along majestically with every shred of canvas set’; such are the Skellig rocks – Skellig Michael and Small Skellig – located eight sea miles (14km) off Valentia Island on the Atlantic coast of Kerry. These great towering sea-crags, steeped as they are in history and legend, become daily more and more important in this age of bustle, pollution and all-consuming ‘progress’. The archaeology of Skellig, the birdlife, the seals, the wide-open, timeless scenery – for one reason or another there is a balm for every soul on the Skelligs.

Visible from so many coastal vantage points between Dursey head in County Cork and Slea head in West Kerry, the Skellig Islands – Skellig Michael and Small Skellig – nonetheless seem to stand aloof, isolated and insulated from any mainland association.

This is but a latter-day impression. In any early age, a sea route was always an easier highway to traverse than the trackless mountains and boglands of the interior or the lengthy indentations of the local coast – Dingle bay, Ballinskelligs bay, Kenmare bay, Bantry bay…

Skellig and its environs were well travelled by such voyagers, local and international, throughout all eras, and it is hardly surprising that the wedge tomb at Cool East, Valentia Island, aligned ENE-WSW – as are many such megalithic monuments – in this instance, offers, from within the tomb, a tranquil scene of a well-known Skellig that is spiritually uplifting for any departing soul of any age or era.

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Carmaker Henry Ford and his mighty contribution to Allied Victory, by Con McGrath

Henry Ford was a leading industrialist throughout the early 1900s and created the first mass produced automobiles. Ford held many strong convictions on religion, history, politics, and war. These convictions led him to oppose both World Wars at their outbreak in line with his general pacifism, but he then eventually stood behind his own country as the United States entered the wars.

The carmaker extraordinaire was born July 30, 1863 to William and Mary Ford in Greenfield Township, Michigan, USA. Henry’s father William was born in Ballinascarthy near Clonakilty, in West Cork, and was the son of Thomasine (née Smith) and Jonathan ‘John’ Ford.

It was in 1847 that John (Henry Ford’s grandfather) left famine-stricken Ballinscarthy with his family for America. In Michigan John bought a farm from an old acquaintance from West Cork, Henry Maybury. Incidentally, residing on the adjacent farm was another Cork man, Patrick Ahern from Fair Lane off Shandon Street in Cork City. This family would play a part in the subsequent story of John’s son William.

Said William, aged 21 when he left Ballinascarthy, went to work farming on his father’s farm, while also using his carpentry tools which he had brought over from Ireland.

On April 21, 1861, William married Mary Litogot, she was an orphan (a daughter of Belgian immigrants) and had been adopted by Patrick Ahern and his family. William and Mary had eight children, six of whom survived into adulthood.

Their son Henry was ambitious and interested in mechanical objects. He experimented with machinery while still helping on the family farm. When aged 25, Henry married Clara Jane Bryant, the daughter of a neighbouring farmer, on April 11, 1888. In the home he built for his wife on a 40-acre tract his father William gave him, Henry drew his first diagram of a gasoline engine, which he was convinced was destined to replace the noisy steam engine.

Henry soon realized that he could not build his engine on a farm, but needed the superior mechanical equipment that could be found in a city such as Detroit. So in 1891, the young couple moved to Detroit, where Henry found employment as a machinist.
At home in his kitchen Ford experimented and tested his engine idea, with the engine clamped to the sink, the spark plug connected to the ceiling light socket, and the oil cup tended by his wife. With his gasoline engine a success, Ford’s next ambition was to make his engine drive a four-wheel carriage. Motor vehicles were being produced by hand in Europe, but there was no commercial manufacturing of any motorcar.

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