St Mary’s

Maureen Sparling


Maureen Sparling

SHANNON’S BIG WIN: Last Saturday saw Shannon defeat Lansdowne 38-19 out at Coonagh Grounds. It didn’t look great from the start, as the opposition scored an early try. But nothing daunted our parish lads held their nerve and came out champs on the day. Congrats to them for mustering up such courage, having suffered a bruising defeat at the hands of Young Munster in a previous game.

SHANNON’S BIG WIN: Last Saturday saw Shannon defeat Lansdowne 38-19 out at Coonagh Grounds. It didn’t look great from the start, as the opposition scored an early try. But nothing daunted our parish lads held their nerve and came out champs on the day. Congrats to them for mustering up such courage, having suffered a bruising defeat at the hands of Young Munster in a previous game.

RESPECTFUL FAREWELL TO EUGENE: The nickname ‘Shan’ immediately suggests a likeable and friendly type of person, which the late Eugene Shanahan most certainly was. I knew him from his late teenage years. Born into a large and much respected family in, by far the finest looking house on Athlunkard Street, Eugene resided in Rhebogue upon marrying. Eugene was an integral part of the equine fraternity in Limerick and much further afield, for, as the chief celebrant mentioned in his empathetic eulogy at the concelebrated Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Church on Wednesday, he was considered one of the best around to ‘break a horse.’ This process entails an amount of patience and it would seem that Eugene was blessed with patience. One might truly reflect that the noble horse was his life. He had a special affinity with that most intelligent of all animals.

There was a massive attendance at the removal of the remains from Milford on Tuesday evening and likewise at the Requiem Mass on the following day. An enormous floral tribute was clearly in evidence as a double brace of coal black horses led the cortege, which left Clare Street and proceeded over the Abbey Bridge. Close behind, his firm friend, Ger Hogan and two young lads followed on a genuine old style horse and cart, the horse belonging to the deceased. At the junction of Athlunkard Street and the Island Road, the cortege respectfully halted for a few minutes, only a matter of feet away from the house where Eugene was born and grew up. That was most quite an emotional part of the obsequies. The deceased would surely have been chuffed to realise that his funeral was the cause of stopping the traffic! The cortege then proceeded along the Island Road and turned left and out over Thomond Bridge to his final resting place.

We extend our sincere sympathy to his wife, Margaret, son, Michael and daughter, Tina. We also extend our heartfelt sympathy to his mother, Sheila, his sisters, brothers, extended family, relatives and friends. It was good to have known him. May his gentle soul rest in peace.

He lived his life the way he chose

That finally last week came to a close,

For the noble horse he showed great respect,

Yet, no human folk did he reject.

MEETING VINNY: Last week, I happened to encounter by pure chance, the President of Shannon RFC, the brave Vinny Ryan himself. Now, whereas I had never before met this man, I recognised him from some pictures I had received recently of the President’s Night. But he recognised me and had little hesitation in relating to me that he never misses reading my notes. Within seconds of meeting him I was aware that he possessed two attributes I really do admire in a man, that of a firm handshake and a strong resonant voice. But he also possesses an added attribute, that of presence! Indeed, a wonderful sense of presence. So he is thrice blest! Many people of minimal to average height can be (unwittingly) intimidated by extra tall people, but not so with this man. From my one experience I found that he engages wholeheartedly with the person he is conversing with and that helps to dispel any question of physical height in the one, or lack of it in the other, completely. Oh, what a most personable man he is and what a superb President of Shannon RFC he must have been, and still proves to be! In next week’s notes I hope to familiarise my readers with a wonderful rugby publication by Vinny.

ADAPT CHURCH GATE COLLECTION:ADAPT Services work to support women who experience domestic abuse and their children, across Limerick City and County. We will be holding our Annual Church Gate Collection in Limerick City on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th of May and we are appealing for local volunteers to get involved. We have had amazing support from local people, over the past couple of years and would like to thank those who support us year after year. Our Church Gate Collections raise vital funds to keep the service running and volunteers are essential. It only takes one person in the parish to get enthusiasm going in order to make a Church Gate Collection a success. Raising as much as €250 on the day will provide the children of our refuge with two weeks activities or allow us to meet a woman anywhere in the county and offer support. If you think you can give us an hour on the day or if you know of anyone that could help us in Limerick County or suburbs please contact Laura Bohan on (061) 412354 or by email @ ONE HOUR CAN MAKE A TREMENDOUS DIFFERENCE TO ADAPT SERVICES.

SYMPATHY: The parish extends its heartfelt sympathy to the family of the late Richard (Richie)Coughlan, of Whitethorn Drive, Caherdavin, and the Treaty Café on Nicholas Street, who died recently at a comparatively young age as life goes.

LIMERICK LIONS CLUB: Are having a 10k Sponsored CHARITY WALK in aid of CARING FOR CARERS on SUNDAY APRIL 28th @ 11.30 a.m. Walk starts from 1, John’s St. by riverside route to Barrington’s Pier. Sponsorship cards available from Carers Association or Noel Sexton on 086 3527418.

TROCAIRE THANKS: Our parish priest expressed his gratitude at last weekend Masses to everyone who contributed to the Trocaire fund which so far has realised €5253. Easter Dues envelopes can still be handed in to the special box at the back of the church or at a later date to the regular collection basket and failing that, then they can be delivered to the sacristy or to the priest’s house.

HOGAN’S TAKE ON ‘A LIMERICK ELECTION’: Continuing on from last two week’s insertion of a piece written by W J Paul in 1894, which was published in Belfast. This is month in which Michael Hogan died. A beautiful statue to honour his memory stands outside King John’s Castle. “During the Parliamentary elections in 1880 he published another satire, on the title-page of which was, “The Pictorial Gallery of the Limerick Election. A graphic illustration of the conspicuous characters and talents of the sublime orators who so magnificently figured on that most memorable occasion, by the Bard of Thomond.” The contents may be fairly guessed by the title. About the same time he published a companion volume to this one. It was entitled, “O’Shaughnessy’s Dodging and Gabbet’s Tomfoolery.” Messrs. O’Shaughnessy and Gabett were the Parliamentary candidates, and to neither of them did the Bard offer one word of praise. In 1883 he published “Cupid’s Adventure,” which was the last of his satirical productions. Without commenting on the wisdom of the Bard’s action in publishing these pamphlets (which, if they brought him pecuniary advantage, made him many enemies), it is not too much to say that they exhibit rare powers for versification and the power of expressing thought in terse and vigorous language. These satires have never been re-published, and are long since out of print. They are not included in the general collection of his, “Lays and Legends of Thomond.” This portly volume, the latest edition of which was published in 1880 by Messer’s Gill & Son, Dublin, contain a mine of interesting poetry, ballads of war and chivalry brimful of martial fury, legends full of enchantment and fairy music, humorous songs thoroughly Irish in sentiment and full of the richest melody.”

What a wonderful appraisal, (for the most part), of Michael Hogan’s works. One must realise that our great writer wrote by gas or candle-light in damp, dank surroundings. Blindness was his sad sorry lot for many, many years prior to his demise. He lived in an impecunious state for most, if not all, his life and got some slight reprieve when the Corporation gave him the job of Caretaker (Ranger) of the Island Bank which netted him £1 a week, not a bad amount in the late 1800s!

OUR PARISH ‘GATHERING’: For information on the Abbey Fishermen’s ‘Gathering’ which will take place on the May Bank Holiday weekend, you can contact the following: or or phone 087 6596787(Ger is the Chairman of the Abbey Fishermen’s ‘Gathering’ Association. See last two week’s notes for details as to times etc.

CATHEDRAL LUNCHTIME CONCERT: There will be yet another Lunchtime Concert at St Mary’s Cathedral on this coming Wednesday, May 1, 2013. It will feature Susan O’Leary on flute and Peter Barley on piano, playing the music of JS Bach, Boehm and Taktakishvili. The Concert begins at 1.15pm and finishes at 2.00pm. Admission if completely free but a small donation to the Retiring Collection would be greatly appreciated, as this will go to aid the Companions of St Mary’s cathedral Music.

SACRED MUSIC WEEK: The Jesuit church is set to come alive with Sacred Music in what is billed as the first annual Week of Sacred Music. Every night the Concert begins at 8.00pm. The priest of Christ the Sovereign King are doing their best to raise funds for much needed heating in this church which is part of Limerick’s church heritage.

IRISH CHAMPIONSHIP BAND: This coming Sunday a unique event will take place at the Bandroom on Mary Street. It is to mark the 50th anniversary of St Mary’s Fife and Drum Band winning Republic of Ireland Fife and Drum Championship back in 1963. Three members of that same Band are still alive and will be honoured, with family members and invited guests attending on this Sunday after 12.00 noon. The three surviving members are: Paddy Casey, John McNamara and Jack McGrath.

WW WROTE ABOUT IT: The following article appeared in the ‘Limerick Chronicle’ on 30-4-’63 and also appeared in that excellent literary and photographic production which was published to co-inside with the 125th Anniversary of the Band’s inception. The late Willie Whack’s forthright heading was as follows: “Great Reception Tonight for Irish Championship Band, Big Parade Through City.’

“A Reception befitting champions will be given tonight in Limerick, marking a great musical triumph on Sunday last in Wexford of St Mary’s Fife and Drum Band in winning the senior Championship of Ireland. All the other bands in the city will turn out to honour them. Limerick’s band folk – and all the citizens – are proud of the ‘saints’ great victory, and they will show their appreciation when they leave their respective band rooms before 8 o’clock tonight to assemble in Mary Street at 8 o’clock. There they will give the Irish Champions a rousing reception worthy of a great band that has proven its eminence against the best from other counties. This gesture by the other city bands reflects the fine civic spirit prevailing and the friendly air of camaraderie that exists between all the bands in the city.

from Mary Street, the Bands – Boherbuoy Brass and Reed, St John’s Brass and Reed, Limerick Pipe and the C.B.S. Pipe with St Mary’s will set out in a great parade through the streets of the city to record a joyous occasion on the musical life of the city. The route: Broad Street, John Street, Cathedral Place, Sexton Street, Parnell Street, Boherbuoy, Wolfe Tone Street, O’Connell Avenue, O’Connell Street, thence to Mary Street. In the natural order of the event, the ‘parish’ anthem, “There is an Isle,” will be played by Mr Jim ‘Bud’ Clancy, well known cornetist. The celebrations will end with the playing of the ‘National Anthem.’

Oh, what a truly spirited writer this man was and one who, like the late Denis Leonard, loved his city well! In one of my poems, “The Abbey Bridge” (1999), readers will have noticed that the late ‘Bud’ Clancy’ was featured in it, playing his trumpet to greet the Limerick ‘ghost council!’ This poem is contained in my collection of many years ago. “A Gem in the Wasteland.” Now, keeping in mind that this was the early 60s, when the very idea of television was just beginning to surface, this event must have been greatly anticipated. It was an era when people lived for the circus coming to town, live theatre, the pictures, scouts, and for the men, that all important trip to the Market’s Field for the soccer match on Sundays after the feed of bacon (or pig’s head) and cabbage. Nowadays, they can go to the more up-market Thomond Park, which, thank God, seems to be attracting the diehard soccer enthusiasts all over again.

ARTHUR LYSAGHT’S POETRY: C Continuing on from last week I now cite the final three verses of this highly evocative poem by our late Parish writer.


The barges are gone from the Abbey,

No more the canal they go by;

“Where are the men of the big boats?”

Warm summer winds seem to sigh,

“Gone evermore from the river,”

Swaying green sallies reply.

And the sandmen are gone from the Abbey,

No more by her fair banks they ply,

“Where are the men of the sandcots?”

Cool autumn winds seem to sigh,

“Gone evermore from the Abbey,”

Swaying green sallies reply.

The brocaun, the barge and the sandcot,

No more by her fair waters go by;

“Oh, where are the men of the water?”

Drear winter winds seem to sigh,

“Gone, gone evermore from the river,”

Grey, leafless sallies reply.


Yet, flows the silver river,

And St Mary’s keep secure,

While her loss is keened by water-song,

At surging Curraghgower.

By Arthur Lysaght, poet Laureate of the Old Abbey Regatta. (Thus was this truly magnificent poem signed as above, by its talented author. )