Limerick mother goes to great lengths to complete a one-off hurling masterpiece

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald


Limerick mother goes to great lengths to complete a one-off hurling masterpiece

All-star Sean Finn with hurling-mad Mark, whose mum went to great lengths to create her commemorative piece

FRAMED pictures of the Pope, JFK or Our Lady were traditional centrepieces in Irish kitchens but for one local household there is a different focus of worship - Limerick hurling. 

While many Limerick households have their own precious piece of memorabilia from All-Ireland final day, August 19, 2018, one Limerick mother has gone to extraordinary lengths to remember the famous day. 

It all started in the spring of 2018 when Ellen Twomey Purtill’s friend Ann Slattery gave her a signed hurley for her son Mark; and the story came to a perfect ending this week with Ellen bringing home a one-off special edition framed Limerick hurling collage, from Cummins Picture Framing in the city.

“Ann had got the hurley signed at one of the training sessions prior to the 2018 final and gave it to Mark as a present,” Ellen from Bruff told the Leader this week.

“Mark is 13 and his dream is to play for Limerick. He is hurling mad.”

While Ann had many of the signatures of the All-Ireland-winning panel on the hurley, she didn’t have them all.

“Then the Limerick Leader had a two-page spread before the All-Ireland with all the panel and it was in alphabetical order so I just made a list of the ones that I didn’t have,” Ellen explained.

When the National Hurling League started back early in 2019 Ellen made it her business to get the remaining signatures. She was now down to six left. Step forward local man and Limerick corner-back Sean Finn.

“Sean is a lovely fella, he took the hurley for me into training and he got the last five.”

Ellen was now down to one name left, Lorcan Lyons.

Lorcan  was on the 2018 panel but wasn’t on the 2019 panel so Sean wasn’t meeting him at training. 

“Lorcan plays for Monaleen so I got a contact for Monaleen and I got his mobile number and I rang him like a stalker and asked him to meet me,” laughed Ellen, “and he very kindly met me in Castletroy a few weeks ago and he signed it.”

The next day Ellen brought the hurley and a collection of other memorabilia from the 2018 final into Ray Cummins.

Above: Sean and the Purtill family 

“I brought the programme from the All-Ireland, two match tickets from the final and we got the number plate at the Bruff homecoming. My friend Ann had laminated the Limerick Leader’s two-page spread with all of the details so that has gone in as well. My daughter grabbed the gold tape from the ground in Croke Park. We have a big clump of it but Ray just took two pieces out. Ray put everything together. He laid it out on the table and decided how we would lay it out.”

So where is the masterpiece going to be displayed? “My kitchen!” smiled Ellen. “It is going to take pride of place. I have already been onto my builder to come and hang it for me as I’m afraid to hang it myself. 

“Mark wants it to go up to his bedroom but I said ‘not on your nelly, no way!’”

The family’s loyalty to Limerick hurling runs so deep that they flew home early from their two-week holiday in Malaga for the All-Ireland final.

“Because the 2018 All-Ireland final was earlier than normal we got caught out when we booked out holidays. We realised our holidays were clashing so we booked extra flights home  - the three of us, Mark and my daughter Afton who is 12.” 

Ellen’s husband Mick has always been into Limerick hurling and Mark is now a huge fan and is the goalie for Bruff U14. 

“He lives, eats and breathes it,” said Ellen.

“We had Sean Finn in our house around this time last year with the Liam MacCarthy Cup and his All-Star award and that was just a night to remember.”