Two memorable documentaries…
Sometimes we can jump to conclusions as to what certain public figures are like, and quite often we row in with the popular assessment, without really knowing anything at all about a person’s life or personality when he or she is away from the media limelight.
Undoubtedly one of the people who falls into that category is Clare hurling legend Davy Fitzgerald, a man whose extraordinary passion for hurling has led him to being labelled everything from a ‘madman’ to a loose cannon. His sideline demeanour during a big game certainly does nothing to take from that image.
As one of the greatest goalies of modern times, ‘Davy Fitz’ won three Munster titles, two All-Irelands, and three All Stars, before turning his hand to management. As a manager he had great success with Waterford, whom he won a Munster title with in 2010, bringing them to a first All-Ireland final appearance in 45 years. He then took up the mantle as manager of his native Clare, winning the All-Ireland in 2013, and a National League title the same year (their first in 38 years), before taking over Wexford in 2016, and leading them to this year’s Leinster Championship, their first provincial win in 15 years.
And yet, despite all he has done and achieved, Davy has been regarded more as a ‘hot-head’ than as the superstar he certainly is. Mind you, incidents like the one where he went on to the field during the league semi-final against Tipperary in 2017 to have a go at the ref, but ended up confronting one Tipperary player (Niall O’Meara) and jostling another one (Jason Forde), only served to copperfasten his reputation as a wild man, and to divert attention from the brilliant hurling figure that he is.
And so it was great to see the other side of Davy in a wonderful recent documentary ‘When Davy met Michael’. Michael O’Brien is a visually impaired lad from Killarney, whose absolute hero is Davy Fitz. The two met on the Late Late toy show, after which the Wexford manager invited Michael to come to the Wexford dressing room before a vital league game against Tipperary (again) and give the team a motivational speech before they took the field.
If ever we had an example of dealing with adversity it was the way in which 11-year-old Michael let absolutely nothing stand in his way, and the documentary was one of the most uplifting programmes I have seen in a long, long time.
The young Kerry lad was such an inspiration to everyone everywhere, and the daunting experience of addressing a team of top intercounty hurlers didn’t faze him at all, so much so that after his stirring words they went out and beat the Tipp lads!
As for Davy, his instant rapport with Michael was a joy to see, and the bond between them had to be seen to be believed. Judging by the public reaction to the programme, there was an enormous outpouring of every possible emotion – there were tears, laughter, joy, pride, and above all admiration for both of them – and even though it’s an absolute guarantee that we will see the wide-eyed Davy on the sideline again this year, somehow, having watched the programme, I will be less inclined to have a go at him.
The behaviour of his Wexford hurlers during the young lad’s speech, and the complete attention and respect they gave him, was a credit to each and every one of them, and I can only tell you that if Galway don’t win next year’s McCarthy Cup, I really hope Davy, Lee Chin and his Wexford team do. Can you imagine what that would mean to young Michael O’Brien?
I’m sure RTE will show it again before too long, and while we all like to give out about repeats, this is one which, if you didn’t see it the first time, you should make sure you get it to see second time around – it truly was an inspiring, heartwarming, lovely programme and a huge credit to everyone involved.
Sky’s the limit for lovable Bobby
Staying with documentaries, a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to see ‘The man who wanted to fly’, the story of Cavan octogenarian Bobby Coote who, while spending his days making violins and fixing clocks, has never given up on his lifelong dream of taking to the skies.
With the help of his neighbour Sean he builds a hangar and a runway, and, despite much derision from his brother, Ernie, buys himself a micro-light plane, and sets about fulfilling his slightly crazy ambition.
The eccentric brothers are just wonderfully entertaining characters, and the twists and turns the story takes before Bobby finally flies and lands his airplane on the homemade runway in front of a large crowd of enthusiastic neighbours and friends – and a by now proud and emotional brother – is just spellbinding television. Once again, if you missed it first time around, make sure you see it whenever it makes its way back to our screens.
Not for the first time it made me realise that oftentimes the most interesting and extraordinary characters are right there beside us in rural Ireland, and it’s great when TV producers go that extra mile and search for, and find, this type of brilliant material and turn it into truly unforgettable television.
Fundraiser for Glenamaddy Day Care Centre
On to local matters: out the road in Glenamaddy, Mae Murray tells me there is a Day Care Centre, started many years ago by the legendary local GP, Patrick Geraghty (RIP), which is the only one of its type in Ireland. There are two minibuses which collect people from an 18-mile radius, bringing them in to the centre each day, Monday to Friday.
Once there, they can enjoy a welcoming cup of tea. There’s a nurse on duty, help with their shopping and washing, and a four-course dinner on offer every day. There are all kinds of activities laid on, including various talks and games, and it seems to be a wonderful local initiative.
Mae also tells me she has two relations receiving treatment in the Oncology Unit in Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, and to show her appreciation of both facilities she is holding a fundraising dance in the Community Centre in Glenamaddy on this Saturday night, 17th of August.
The hugely popular Mary Coughlan and her band will supply the music, and tickets are available at both the Day Care Centre and the Community Centre. There will be a door prize, spot prizes, and a raffle, and it promises to be a great night’s entertainment for two very worthy causes. For more information you can contact Mae on 087-2489327.
Finally for this week, it’s back to Creggs…Larry Kilcommins tells me that on Wednesday next, 21st of August, in conjunction with Heritage Week in Creggs, Dr. Gerry Beggan will give a powerpoint presentation on historic monuments, former place names, and forgotten legends of the Upper River Suck. It’s in the local Heritage Centre (7 pm). Admission is free. It promises to be a most interesting and informative night, so if you have any interest in local history get to the Heritage Centre and enjoy Dr. Beggan’s excellent presentation.
Till next week, Bye for now!