Creggs: Cultural Capital of the West!

Our man Frank on Creggs’ emergence as a West of Ireland cultural hub, Keith Earls’ rise to international rugby greatness, the passing of a wonderful lady in Ballygar, and moving on to more important matters following the RTÉ scandal…

It’s Friday evening and you would think the angels above are emptying buckets of water down on top of us so heavy is the rain, and I am thinking about the concert that is taking place a little later in the school hall.

Now I would be telling a bit of a fib if I said I was looking forward to facing out into the elements, and as the rain gets even heavier and the wind gets stronger, it becomes more and more attractive to stay in the warmth of the recently insulated house.

However, we are made of stern stuff, and shortly after 8 pm we head off to Creggs and, battling through the incessant downpour, we arrive safely, if not exactly dry, into the sanctuary of the school hall.

The concert, staged as part of Heritage Week, featured Orlaith Keane, a member of the famous Keane family from Caherlistrane and a superb guitarist and singer; Martin Coyne; and our own local multi-instrumentalist, Colm Naughton.

Shortly after 8.30 pm, the show kicked off and for the following two hours or so we totally forgot about the inclement weather as we were fully immersed in the wonderful music the trio provided. Orlaith is similar in every way to her world-renowned aunt Dolores Keane and every song went down a treat with those in attendance. Both Colm and Martin are brilliant musicians but they were also very adept at keeping us entertained with stories and chat, and the overwhelming feeling was that the concert was a huge success.

This was the second concert we have had in the village in recent times, after Ultan Conlan’s appearance in the Heritage Centre, so maybe Creggs is on its way to becoming the ‘Cultural Capital of the West’.

When it was finished, we ventured back out into the appalling weather but somehow after such an uplifting show (and a few pints in Mikeen’s) things just didn’t seem quite as miserable.

I don’t know how often the three of them play together, but if you get a chance to see them, make sure you go and don’t allow even the worst weather conditions to put you off!

100 not out for Moyross man Keith!

‘Fight or Flight’ is the name of an autobiography written by Tommy Conlon and Keith Earls, which was released in 2021. It is essentially the story of Irish rugby star Earls and it deals with his upbringing in Moyross in County Limerick, an area renowned at the time of his youth for crime, poverty, and violence.

In the book, Keith pulls no punches as he describes his battles with mental health as he tried to adjust to the success his rugby talent brought him at a very early age. Coming from such a challenging background meant he found it hard to adapt to the professional rugby playing world and even as he was offered his first full-time Munster contract, he said his ambition was still to “complete an electrical apprenticeship and play club rugby for Thomond”.

Thomond, with whom Creggs had a very good relationship back in the 80s when the clubs used to play friendlies, were one of the best junior clubs in the country at the time. But, while they have since graduated to the senior ranks, it is not where a potential top rugby player would aspire to end up.

However, despite his outstanding talent and ability, young Earls was never fully comfortable with it all and was on the brink of packing it all in.

And so to see him win his 100th cap for Ireland last weekend and score a superb try in in the process is one of the great sporting moments of recent times. The reaction from the Irish players when he scored was a real testament to the standing he holds in the camp. As long as Andy Farrell has been in charge of the Irish team, I have never seen him as excited as when the latest centurion got his try, so after all the trials and tribulations of his career it must have been one of Earls’ greatest moments too.

Watching him being interviewed the other day, he said that no one from Thomond had made the international set-up since his emergence, and he hoped his story might inspire someone from the area to realise that, wherever you come from, anything is possible.

Whether or not he gets on the plane to France for the World Cup is still not known, but whatever happens, the young man from Moyross has become a legend of Irish rugby.

Of all the players that have represented Ireland over the years only nine of them have got 100 caps or more, so well done Keith you have joined a very elite group of Irish rugby talent.
And as there is no word of any impending retirement, hopefully we will see many more tries for Munster and Ireland in the future.

A bright light goes out in Ballygar

All of us who are old enough to remember the early days of Creggs Rugby Club are well aware of the huge impact the Daly family from Ballygar played in making the club the success it is today, and every single member of the family was heavily involved in some way or other.

The late Joe Daly was President for many years, and his wife Madeleine helped out with lots of the less glamorous jobs that were associated with the fledgling club, including cooking and cleaning and producing the delicious Irish stew that fed many a hungry rugby player back in those very carefree days.

On Sunday last, Madeleine was laid to rest in Ballygar and all of us worse off for her passing. She was a really lovely lady and an excellent doctor and looked after so many of us so well down through the years.

To the Daly family, friends and relations, we extend our deepest sympathy and as so many people said over the weekend: “It really is the end of an era”. May she rest in peace.

And finally…

I have to say I was greatly relieved when I saw no mention of Ryan Tubridy in the Daily Mail earlier this week. There are lots of other things happening that warrant our attention but for the past number of weeks everywhere I looked I saw his face.

To be honest, I couldn’t care less about Tubs and his salary saga and I am pretty sure that whatever the future holds for him he will never be short of a few bob, but it’s high time it all drifted off into oblivion so that we can read about more important matters.

In local sporting matters, our Creggs footballers lost to Pádraig Pearses in the intermediate championship in Ballyforan and while we never seem to win a game up there, we cannot blame the ground or the grounds staff as everything was shipshape and a credit to all involved. So many clubs have really good grounds in the county nowadays and St Aidan’s are certainly one of those!

‘Till next week, Bye for now!