Having found myself with some time on my hands recently, I vowed to review most/all of the Waterford GAA books that have come out in recent times. Alas – not that there’s anything ‘alas’ about it, if you catch my drift – my circumstances have changed to the point where the time available for reading has diminished significantly.
This is a good thing, and not just because of the obvious reason. It was with a sense of dread that I surveyed some of the books. I don’t want to be vicious to people pouring their hearts out on paper, but if a book is cack then it’s the duty of the reviewer (sez he, donning his pomposity hat) to say it’s cack. Worse still, it would have been tempting to compare them to the first – and, by the looks of it, last – book I read, David Smith’s marvellous study of John Keane.
It’s the book that keeps on giving, as I found out when discussing locating his grave in Tramore with my father and brother. Not only did I find out that John Keane and my grandmother were on first-name terms, Keane being a regular visitor to the house to check up on my uncle in Keane’s role as a Waterford selector in the late 1950’s. I also found out that the tickle in my memory regarding the Jack Flavin mentioned regularly throughout the book in his capacity as chairman of Mount Sion was correct, i.e. that the man who was even more Mr Mount Sion than Pat Fanning was my mother’s next-door neighbour!
One of the battier thoughts I had during my Luvvie Darling-like period of rest was to write a book on the history of Waterford GAA – if Kilmacow GAA can lend itself to the Senan Cooke-penned doorstop that I saw every day while doing research in Waterford library, then why not our entire county? It’s not going to happen for me this time around, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a gap in the market. Knowing Jack Flavin is gone, resting at a point roughly equidistant between my grandmother and John Keane in Tramore, and that my uncle who knew them all so intimately has been ravaged by the cigarette curse that took Keane so heartbreakingly early, it seems urgent that someone do this before the memories of a pre-digital era are lost forever. Will no-one step forth to perform this task for their county?
(Image: the 172 pupils of De La Salle College when it opened on 4th September 1949. My uncle Billy Shanahan – no relation to Dan or Maurice – is no 23, middle of second row from the front. The late John Barron of the 1959 All-Ireland winners is no 81, second last from left to right in row five.)