In praise of Phoenix Park – and can Galway hurlers rise like a Phoenix?


One of the things I’ve learned as I get older is that there are not that many advantages to being old – but the free travel is definitely one of them. It surprises me that apparently very few of those entitled to it actually make use of it.

  Up to now, after qualifying for it more than four months ago, I too had made very little use of it, but on Saturday evening after work I boarded the direct bus service to Dublin, which left Athlone shortly after 5 pm, which had me in Bus Áras sometime before 7 pm. I was going up to visit my daughter, who lives in a place called Carpenterstown, an area I had never heard of before this – but it certainly exists – and shortly after 8 pm I found myself in the appropriately named Carpenter pub, which was already absolutely buzzing.

  We had excellent grub and a few sociable drinks in the massive public house, which had at least four large bars together with a function room, which was hosting an 80th birthday party, and, not for the first time, I realised that Dublin and its surrounds is a very different animal to what lives out in rural Ireland.

  Sunday afternoon, and I was heading back to the bus station when we passed through the Phoenix Park. While I have spoken in glowing terms about the Park in a previous article, it wasn’t until Sunday that I realised how much of an asset it is to the citizens of the Capital city. There was an enormous number of people roaming round the thousands of acres and the freedom it afforded dog owners and parents of young children was just brilliant. Everywhere there were children of all ages running through the long grass, and it was marvellous to see.

  Dogs could safely be let off the leash and were free to run around the place. There were football games and soccer matches and I even caught a glimpse of cricket players looking resplendent in their whites, while families were happily having their picnics in the beautiful surroundings.

  We meant to visit the zoo but time was against us, but the next time the zoo will be on the agenda and I will have a chat with my relations, the monkeys and the giraffes and all the other zoological stars, and hopefully it won’t be too long until I once again visit the big city.

  As I got into the city centre I couldn’t but notice all the Cork supporters in their red and white jerseys milling round the place, and even though I had no idea who had won the hurling semi-final I correctly assumed that Cork had lost and that these supporters had to have left Croke Park long before the final whistle. I was actually hoping they would win as I believe Galway will struggle big time against Waterford, who seem to have the Indian sign on us – but I suppose this would be the best time to get a win over the Deise men and please God, the wait since 1988 will come to an end.

  Talking of 1988, little did I know as I talked about the wonderful half-back line of that team in last week’s piece, that one of them, Tony Keady, would pass away just as the paper was being printed. I didn’t ever meet him but as a hurler he was one of the best ever to wear the maroon and white, while as a person, he was obviously just as special, and the fact that more than 15,000 mourners, including very many former teammates and opponents, went to his funeral speaks volumes as to his standing in both the game and the wider community. May he rest in peace.

Big annual fundraiser is coming up

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost time for our annual fundraising dance – with all proceeds going equally to the Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West.

  This year once again we are in Dowd’s, Glinsk, with music by The Lancers on Saturday, 30th of August. Admission is optional.

  I don’t have to tell anyone in the general area about the wonderful work both of these charities do and it’s been a privilege to be involved in this fundraising venture for quite a few years now.

  As in other years we will be calling door to door with the tickets over the next few weeks, and as always we rely on your generosity, which has always been amazing. I look forward to seeing you all, and hopefully we will have the usual team on the road, starting – for me at least – next Monday night.