‘A Limerick win should herald Bank Holiday’: Supporter following team since ‘30s

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

The self styled Mayor of Garryowen Mikey Ryan is gearing up for Sunday’s All-Ireland final Picture: Adrian Butler

The self styled Mayor of Garryowen Mikey Ryan is gearing up for Sunday’s All-Ireland final Picture: Adrian Butler

THE self-styled Mayor of Garryowen believes if Limerick achieve “the impossible dream” of an All-Ireland title, the following day should be a Bank Holiday.

Mikey Ryan, 84, is one of Limerick’s longest-serving hurling fans, travelling to the Treatymen’s matches since the 1930s.

He has slept in "cars, haybarns and goods wagons" en route to and from games the length and breadth of the country.

But sadly, Mr Ryan is still without a ticket for Sunday’s showpiece.

“It would mean the world to me to get a ticket,” he confessed.

Were Limerick to win hurling’s top prize, he feels the fact many people won’t show up for work anyway means a Bank Holiday should be observed – at least on Shannonside.

“I know the authorities won’t like me saying this, but if we reach this impossible dream, we reach our goal, what about a Bank Holiday for us all? Let us all get out and enjoy it. Life is there to be celebrated,” Mikey said.

The Garryowen man’s first recollection of hurling, he said, was in 1941.

“My brother and I were steeped in the great Limerick team of the 1930s, particularly as my uncle Paddy Scanlon was a goalkeeper who won three All-Ireland medals. Mick Mackey and company were heroes. We grew up with hurling in our blood,” he said. He recalled turning up to John the Baptist National School with a black eye – after a wayward ball from the legendary Mackey.

“In the early 1940s, he was training the Limerick lads at the Gaelic Grounds. The next thing he hit a stray ball and it hit my in my left eye. I was poleaxed. I can visibly remember him shouting and roaring ‘young fella, are you alright!’.

“Going into school the following day, my teacher asked if I had been fighting again! I told him Mick Mackey had hit me. Was I a proud man!”

Mikey has been at Croke Park for many of Limerick’s All-Ireland final appearances – apart from the key one in 1973, when he was unable to get over from London, where he’d moved for work.

He is confident ahead of Sunday, saying: “I sense this bunch of lads won’t be phased. They have their feet on the ground.”

Mikey is still on the look out for a ticket - if you can help him, call 086-3751000.