‘The Bull’ moves position to ‘prop’ up bar in Limerick

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

HE WAS a towering figure on the rugby pitch but now John ‘The Bull’ Hayes has taken up a new position – he is “propping” up a bar in Bruff!

HE WAS a towering figure on the rugby pitch but now John ‘The Bull’ Hayes has taken up a new position – he is “propping” up a bar in Bruff!

The former Ireland and Munster star has been depicted in a massive mural on the side of Clancy’s Bar in the town and finds himself in the company of fellow oval ball legends Paul O’Connell and Jerry Flannery as well as international referee, George Clancy.

The mural has replaced the previous painting of Irish rugby star, Keith Wood, which became a victim of the cold weather.

“He was 12 years up there. What happened was the frost damaged our paint. It flaked and it had to be completely re-done,” explained Jack Clancy, proprietor of Clancy’s Bar.

It was decided to re-do the artwork, and what with John Hayes’ connection with Bruff Rugby Club is was felt that he should be the focus.

“There are three dimensions to what we are doing,” Jack explained.

“The Bull Hayes is the theme – in his Irish career. Then we have John Hayes in his Munster career. We painted a scene from the Northampton semi-final with Jerry Flannery, Paul O’Connell and the Bull Hayes on it. And then to the bottom of that is George Clancy because of his connection.”

The international referee who is a native of Bruff is a nephew of Jack.

The sight of Thurles-based mural artist Neil O’Dwyer mastering his brush strokes on the pub’s side wall during the week made for lots of stares and second glances by people travelling from the Kilmallock side of the town.

Such is the detail on the image that the talented artist has even included a bandage over the prop’s right ear.

The image on the other side of the pub - at the Limerick city side - continues to be that of champion hurdle racehorse, Istabraq.

“That will be there for a long, long time,” said Jack.

Neil O’Dwyer painted the two previous murals on the pub and was also responsible for another mural at the end of the town, ‘The Flight of the Earls’.

So what does ‘The Bull’ make of the creation?

“I haven’t been through Bruff yet myself but I have had plenty of photos and comments sent to me,” he told us. “It looks very good.

“Even my sister, Carmel, passed through Bruff on Tuesday and she said to me, ‘That’s actually very good – it even looks like you!’ ”

The retired rugby legend from Cappamore first heard about the mural during the week when he received a phone-call from a Limerick Leader photographer.

“It was actually Michael Cowhey who left a message on my phone. I didn’t know about it before then. It’s huge! For someone to put something like that up on the side of a building – it’s a great honour”.

He has one difficulty however ...

“Sometimes when you’d drive down past it yourself, you’d probably feel a little bit like ‘Jeez, I hope no-one sees me looking up at that - they’ll think I’m just driving past to see myself!”