Gerry’s book to evoke memories – and raise funds for cancer care

Launch is this Friday night

Gerry Flanagan is a passionate sportsman and a very proud Roscommon man. The GAA has been a huge part of his life – he was a player, administrator and coach – while his love of athletics has seen him run a number of marathons. Gerry has also had a distinguished career in An Garda Síochána.

However, his decision to ‘put pen to paper’ and produce what is a most welcome book was not so much motivated by a desire to record his varied life and times, but more so for the purpose of raising more funds for a cause that’s close to his heart – cancer care.

Another great passion of Gerry’s is golf, and for many years now the Roscommon native has been hosting a Golf Classic in County Meath in order to raise funds for the Gary Kelly Cancer Centre (Kelly, the former Leeds United and Republic of Ireland star, set up the facility in memory of his late sister).

Now Gerry Flanagan has written a book about his early life growing up in Roscommon, his involvement in the GAA and other sporting interests, life in Meath, his Garda career and his role with the Courts Service.

‘PLAYING AGAINST THE WIND’ will have its formal Roscommon launch in Down The Hatch, Church Street, Roscommon this Friday night, September 2nd (at 8.30 pm). The book is going on sale in selected local outlets and all proceeds will go to the Gary Kelly Cancer Centre.

A Roscommon native, Gerry Flanagan attended Fuerty NS and Roscommon CBS, and his book includes reflections on that era, memories which will no doubt resonate with his peers.

His GAA career began with St Coman’s and he went on to enjoy success – and great times – in both football and hurling with Roscommon Gaels. Later, he won an All-Ireland junior hurling title with Roscommon (in 1965), playing alongside his hero, the late Gerry O’Malley. He won a number of county medals at club level and the book features lots of reminscences – and photographs – from that era.

When he moved to County Meath, Gerry immediately became involved in the GAA there and went on to become a coach, and also an influential administrator. He is recognised as being one of the first Gaels to passionately and proactively argue in favour of the opening up of Croke Park to other sports. As GAA historian Tony Conboy writes in the foreword to ‘PLAYING AGAINST THE WIND’: “He was not afraid to address controversial issues such as the opening up of Croke Park to other sports when it was taboo to advocate such a direction. Time proved his advocacy as being correct and fruitful”.

Gerry writes with candour about his own experience of cancer, and that of his son, Adrian (happily, both have made recoveries). For many years Gerry has run a Golf Classic at Black Bush Golf Club in Meath in order to raise funds for the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre.

Towards the end of this excellent book Gerry returns to his school days (this chapter will be of particular interest to many local readers), and there’s some great ‘PR’ for our county too as the author highlights positive aspects of Roscommon. Included too is a chapter on memories of growing up in Roscommon in the 1950s, these pages very much a slice of social history. A chapter on farming in ‘the old days’ is also evocative, while there’s a section too on Fr Edward Flanagan of Boystown renown.

A stand-out theme of the book is Gerry’s devotion to family, and there are loving tributes to his parents and siblings. His wife Josephine, daughter Michelle, son Adrian and grandchildren Conor and Cara (who designed the beautiful cover of the book) are clearly the rocks in his life, as is evident throughout Gerry’s writing.

‘PLAYING AGAINST THE WIND’ is a very welcome addition to the range of publications relating to Roscommon GAA and County Roscommon in general. It’s a great read and a book which has been born of generosity of spirit from a modest author who writes with love and passion of the various subjects covered. It is typical of the author that all proceeds are going to cancer care.