With an eloquence bestowed on him by the literary gods, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh graced the Irish airwaves with his insightful and colourful GAA commentaries for six decades. He tells Seán Creedon that even though he has hung up the microphone, Gaelic games will always have a special place in his heart
Down through the decades hundreds of young Kerry people have left their homes in the south-west for the bright lights of Dublin where they became teachers, gardaí, civil servants or maybe writers.
Seventy-three years ago a young man left his home in west Kerry to train as a teacher, first at Coláiste Iosagáin in Ballyvourney, and later at St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra. He qualified as a national school teacher but also went on to become one of the country’s best loved GAA commentators.
Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh was born in Dún Síon, a few miles east of the town of Dingle, in August 1930. He is famous for his commentaries ‘as Gaeilge’ and the one-liners that punctuated those commentaries, but he wasn’t born in the Gaeltacht area, which is west of Dingle.
“Dún Síon would have been a ‘breac-Ghaeltacht’, a bilingual area. I was known as Moriarty until I enrolled as a boarder at Coláiste Íosagáin in Ballyvourney, a village between Killarney and Macroom on the Cork side of the county bounds,” he tells me as we meet during the build-up to the climax of another scintillating season of GAA Championships.
Micheál’s father, Thady, was a farmer, the third generation of Moriartys to farm in Dún Síon since they moved west from Aunascaul. His mother Katie Quinn was from Coum Bowler, on the Conor Pass side of Dingle.
He received his primary education in the Presentation Convent and the Monastery in Dingle. Micheál’s mother, Katie, died in 1944 at the age of forty-eight and the following year he was successful in an entrance examination for Coláiste Iosagáin, which at that time served as a preparatory college for teachers.