My experience as part of ‘10,000-strong’ Irish exodus to Old Trafford!

Our man Frank on a memorable trip to Manchester, where he joined TV personality Martin Logan, attended a game at Old Trafford, and enjoyed the city nightlife; Celebrating a big win for Creggs’ community… and Johnny’s big night


It’s 26 years since I last visited Old Trafford, which was on the occasion of Paulo Wanchope’s wonder goal for Derby County against the Reds (still available on all social media sites), when the visitors beat United by 3 goals to 2.

The United team of that day had all their biggest names – including Keano, Beckham, Giggs, Cantona and Schmeichel – and the away team were given no chance against them. As history will record, Derby won, and included in their line-up was the Irish and former United legend Paul McGrath. The other thing I remember about the game was the respect the Old Trafford crowd showed McGrath, applauding him long and loudly after the game.

Anyway, it was a very different scenario last Saturday. United are a long way removed from the team of the 1990s, and Luton Town, while struggling in the league, certainly fancied their chances.

Luton were right to have expectations of getting a good result, because despite a number of decent chances, we were lucky enough to sneak home with a 1-0 victory.

The game itself was pretty mediocre, but the atmosphere was really good, and the Luton supporters had great fun singing songs about Erik ten Hag getting the sack, and about how embarrassing the United team is! We had seats so close to the pitch that we could nearly have played. At least, unlike against Derby all those years ago, we actually got a win.

Speaking of the seats, they are so tight and small that (thankfully) no one sat in them – everyone stood up for the duration instead.

After the match we hit for the city centre, which was outrageously busy, with queues everywhere for restaurants and pubs.

After fantastic food in the Hard Rock Cafe, we were fortunate to get into Mulligan’s Irish pub after queueing for about 20 minutes. All the people who had told us the Guinness there is top class were right, and we had a few pints of the very best black stuff.

Taxi drivers we spoke with reckoned about 10,000 Irish come over for every United game – and we met most of them in Mulligan’s on Saturday night and O’Shea’s on Friday night!

There were lads from every part of Ireland, from Cork to Donegal and everywhere in between, and we also met a host of Norwegians who were desperately sad that their countryman Haaland is playing for Manchester City.

Thankfully we had an early flight home on Sunday morning, so – much against our will – we called a halt at a respectable hour on Saturday night and bade farewell to the lovely, lively crowd in Mulligan’s.

It took me 26 years to make it back to Old Trafford, but hopefully I will return before too long – and with a bit of luck they might increase the size of the seats! 

Pride of Place… Creggs in the spotlight! 

It’s Thursday evening of last week, and as usual I am tuning into the ‘Irish in the UK’ programme on Channel 186 on Sky TV. The programme is presented by our own Martin Logan, who I was delighted to see at the 60th anniversary celebration dinner dance of the London Galway Association.

Another Creggs man, Seamus O’Grady, is President of the London Galway Association, a group that does Trojan work for various charities in the London area, and which also tries its best to help the ‘forgotten Irish’ – Irish people who for one reason or another have fallen on hard times.

A special guest on the night was Liam Sammon, an All-Ireland medal winner from 1966, and in the course of his interview with Martin he paid tribute to another man who had a long association with Creggs, the legend that is Mattie McDonagh.

Mattie is still the only Connacht man to have won four senior All-Ireland medals, and the way things are going, his record is as safe as your money in the bank – not exactly sure how safe that is anymore, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, as I watched, I can’t deny that I felt a great sense of pride about the fact that on a hugely popular Sky TV programme, our little village had the honour of having such a large representation – Martin himself, Mattie, and Seamus. I said to myself, ‘Who would ever have believed it?’.

Talking of pride in our village, up in Armagh on Friday night, Creggs, representing County Galway, won the Pride of Place Climate Action and Biodiversity category, a huge national honour, bestowed in recognition of its commitment to promote, educate, raise awareness, and enhance biodiversity around our little village.

Our representatives were more than delighted to accept the award, and it is something that is more than deserved by a very hard-working voluntary community group. Congratulations to everyone involved – it’s another All-Ireland victory!

Up close and personal with Martin

It’s funny how things can overlap, because the day after I watched the ‘Irish in the UK’  programme (see separate item), I flew out of Ireland West (Knock)  Airport to Manchester, to see (for my sins) the Premier League game between Manchester United and Luton, where I was delighted to meet up with TV personality Martin Logan.

Myself and my son Paul spent a number of highly delightful hours in his company. His love of Creggs and its surrounds is genuine and heartfelt, and for someone who left the area at eleven years of age, his interest in everyone and everything around the place is most inspiring. We had a most enjoyable evening of chatting and reminiscing.

Martin still has several relations around the west, from Cong to Ballygar, and is a first cousin of the late Mattie McDonagh’s wife Kathleen, and of our old rugby teammate, Mick Brennan.

As we sat and chatted in the relatively humble surrounds of our Manchester hotel, it was hard to believe that the previous night Martin had recorded his show at the prestigious black tie Irish Post Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel, where more than 1,200 people attended, and where he was mixing with the cream of Irish and international entertainment stars.

Eamonn Holmes and Lisa McHugh were the hosts, and among the attendees were actor Jeremy Irons and singers Nathan Carter, Imelda May, Finbar Furey and Nadine Coyle, while the almost forgotten Ryan Tubridy did a bit of guest presenting.

As we talked, we spoke about people who have allowed material success to ‘go to their heads’ and change them (and forget their roots), while others stay the same, and take their success in their stride. If ever a man represents the latter, it is Martin Logan, who remains so down to earth despite the huge popularity of his Sky programme. We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening with him in Manchester.

Johnny’s big night (in aid of charity)

Johnny Carroll, the Man with the Golden Trumpet, is celebrating 66 years in showbusiness, as well as his 80th birthday, with a massive musical extravaganza in the Clayton Hotel in Galway on Tuesday, November 28th.

Fr Brian D’Arcy is a special guest, and the list of performers on the night is so long you would need an extra page to write them all down! Some of the biggest names on the Irish entertainment scene will be there, meaning it promises to be one of those really special nights. Doors open at 6 pm (show starts at 7 pm sharp), with all proceeds going towards Galway Hospice.

Johnny Carroll is a true legend of the entertainment world, so mark the date – get your tickets and head for the Clayton Hotel on Tuesday, November 28th to celebrate his 80th birthday and a wonderful career!

And finally…

It’s Monday morning, just after Storm Debi. Apart from a few minor issues, we escaped pretty well out our way. I just wish that the electricity would come back and I could have the obligatory morning coffee, and that the phone, on which we are now so dependent, would start working again!