Leonard Enright was a no-nonsense full-back for the Limerick hurlers
GAA SONGS represents a treasure trove of material in which hidden townlands, parishes, and stirring events in their history are all faithfully recorded.
The authors comments represent a real love for the home ground, the hills, valleys rivers streams, brown bogs and wildflower covered meadows, and the twisting roads leading to chimneys of contentment.
Their love for their native place, triumphs and achievements gush out like spring water. I pay tribute to them all, enjoy reading through my own collection of 300 songs poems and recitations.
Our first song this week Parish Derby '83 from the pen of Eamon Devereux , tells the story of a match between Patrickswell and Ballybrown whose players are drawn from the same parish. I include three of the five verses:
There's a parish not far from the city, a parish of fame and renown
Tis there you will meet mighty hurlers, from the Well or else Ballybrown
They conquered the rest of the county, whether from City or town
At long last they met in the final Patrickswell and brave Ballybrown.
The scene was now set for the final , the rivalry really was keen
Which end of the parish would conquer was all that remained to be seen
The Well they were led by Len Enright, a defender quite well known to all
While Ball brown's leader was Tony, a son of the famed Teddy Hall.
The Well started out as strong favourites, and this time the tipsters were right
The cup was presented to Enright though Ballybrown strove with their might
But Ballybrown's day is not over, they'll be back at the top before long
It is not the end of the story, even though it's the end of the song.
Next A Ball and a Bull Story from Michael D Ryan Askeaton.
I tell you a story, a story that's no joke
About poor Paddy Molyneaux doing umpire up in Croagh
The ball being kicked a mighty kick went sailing o'er the wall
And Paddy, being a lively chap went out to fetch the ball.
Now in that field and all alone stood Davy Hannon's bull
Deprived of his conjugal rights, he had murder in his skull
Our Pat he spies, his hackles rise, and straight at him he rushes
And sends him sailing through the air and lands him in the bushes.
The players came to the rescue and chase the bull away
And thankfully our Paddy lives to flag another day
But one thing sure and certain, though he lives to the full
He'll never forget the day he met with Davy Hannon's bull.
Willie Ryan from famous Ballymackeogh in Newport, well known balladeer wrote a tribute to his workmate and friend Paddy Enright of Ahane and Limerick full back fame, on his 80th birthday. I include the following random lines:
Let's pay tribute to Paddy Enright since his life first began
In the townland of Ballyvarra in the parish of Ahane
And there to the local he went for to read and write and pray
And where many a score was settled in the lane across the way.
And how he loved the game of hurling with passion and pride
And he donned the colours green and gold of the famous Ahane side
And he wore the Limerick jersey too with distinction and pride
Oh; who will forget that fine young team in nineteen and fifty five.
Then against the men from Boolavogue in Croke Park they made a stand
How proud they were on that hallowed spot, marching with the Artane band
And though they were unsuccessful, Paddy gave a great display
And held Nicky Rackard scoreless on that sunny August day.
At last the Hurley he left aside, other pursuits now he found
And happy to see the pheasant rise or the dog going to ground
Contented in his retirement years where the Mulcair waters flow
Reliving again the glory days, the days of long ago.
Michael O'Hehir was the voice of the GAA for many years, on the radio, and later Television. He had the great gift of making an ordinary encounter sound like a tremendous match as he lit up our young lives. I came across ten tribute verses ( author unknown) which I now share:
Oftentimes in mournful estate
I summon up the shades of long ago
And lovely summer Sunday afternoons
When Michael's voice was on the radio.
He took us from our country cottages
And left us sitting in the Hogan stand
Beside the church and civil dignitaries
While Artane boys paraded in the band.
And every point becomes a wild hurrah;
A goal explodes to blast us from our chair
As Michael's voice is almost screaming now
Like marionettes we're dancing in the air.
And finally, the game is over now
The voice of our youth is still at last:
A glory has departed from our lives;
A beauty that never will be surpassed.
And oftentimes I shed a silent tear
For lovely, summer evenings long ago,
When I was young, and life was tender sweet
And Michael's voice was on the radio.
Several lovely verses were written about the late Feohanagh, Effin, and Limerick hurler Tommy Quaid. He enjoyed a very successful career, and Séan O'h Airtnéada from Abbeyfeale, composed the following after he won the Poc Fada in the early 1990s.
The homeland of hurling they claim is in the south
But the Poc Fada's promoted in north county Louth
Cuchullan and Ferdia they fought at Ardee
But 'tis young Tommy Quaid we drove here to see.
The Poc Fada is starting , they're eager to go
With the bay of Carlingford resplendent below
He's Limerick's great goalie of fame and renown
Tommy Quaid from Feohanagh did not let us down.
When he won the Poc Fada we cheered ourselves hoarse
With 57 pucks he completed the course
Engineering in Milford his fame will endure
He took over in goal from Seamus Horgan of Tour.
Farewell to you Cooley so scenic and grand
Sure, I know that area like the palm of my hand
Omeath and Carlingford and lovely Greenore
Tommy Quaid's the new champion we are thrilled to the core.
I conclude with Mud and Marriage from Michael D Ryan. Over ten verses it tells the story of how a wife changed her attitude to Gaelic games.
Of a handsome young maiden, I'll tell you a tale
This maiden did marry a gallant young Gael
Who often went hurling as gallant Gaels should?
And brought home in his kit bag a fair portion of mud.
Now things were alright in the honeymoon year
And oft midst the flowers herself would appear
And the soil that she scraped from his boots and his gansey
Did nourish the Dahlia and brighten the Pansy.
But after a while the love faded in patches
The pity was she never went to the matches
Till her mother advised her with the wisdom of mothers
"Go follow him round or he'll look for another."
So, she went to the final and she was disgusted with the ranting and raving, of respectable women in wild jubilation, until her husband scored a goal and got her screaming.
Aye, lipping and screaming as loud as them all
"Come on Paddy me darling, will you pull on the ball!"
"Stand down on him you there, you're too blooming tender
Every man a man ! Give them timber, boys timber,"
So now, as she scrapes off the mud from his boots
And places it round the Chrysanthemum roots
She smiles at the red rose its soft petals curling
Saying "Thanks be to God for the mud and the hurling."