Archive for the ‘Irish Matters’ Category

Patrick Kavanagh’s Football Career

December 7, 2009

After today I’m going to drop the subject of Irish athletics for a while (but will return to it eventually, I hope).  But I can’t leave out this (from “God and the Referees:  Unforgettable GAA Quotations”).

Patrick Kavanagh (1913-1967) was considered the greatest Irish poet after Yeats—at least until Seamus Heaney came along.  And the poets of Heaney’s generation generally acknowledge their debt to Kavanagh.

Kavanagh was from a little place called Inishkeen in County Monaghan; and he did play football  (very briefly!) for his home parish.

From the book (the professor is Augustine Martin):

“Why do you refuse to talk about Kavanagh?  Is he not the man who put your village on the map?”  One of the wise men lifted his head looked the professor in the eye and said, “Kavanagh cost us a county final.”

The village of Inishkeen was a couple of points ahead of Latton in the 1930 county final when Patrick Kavanagh, the keeper, seeing the ball at the other end of the field, sauntered over to the sideline to buy a bottle of orange.  By the time he made it back, the ball was in the net and the game was lost.  Later Kavanagh would claim, though possibly apocryphally, that he had wandered off to buy an ice cream.


“One Ring to Rule Them All”

November 28, 2009

The over-the-top quote in my preceding post just might have seemed to  imply that the Irish game of hurling is a crude affair.  But not so– at least when played by a master like Christy Ring, widely considered the greatest hurler of all times.  The GAA book of quotations gives him a full chapter–  “Christy:  One Ring to Rule Them All”:

When I know all about it, then I’ll have to give it up. [ Christy, as quoted by Brendan Fullam in Hurling Giants (1994)]

‘The funny thing about Christy Ring is that the older he got, the better he got.  He was better in his latter years than when he started’.  [John Doyle, quoted by Colm Keane in A Cut Above the Rest(1999)]

One legend is that he honed his accuracy by shooting a ball from 20 yards at the bell button on the parish priest’s door.  Another is that he used to lob a ball into a bucket hanging from a tree 30 or 40 yards away. [Denis Walsh (29 Feb. 2004) ]

‘Sure I didn’t see Jesus Christ either and everyone knows that he was the greatest!’ [Dr. Jim Young, Cork hurler, when asked how he knew that Ring was the greatest when he had never seen him play]

And I guess that last quote would fit my situation too!

There is a statue of Christy Ring in Cloyne, County Cork.

An Irish Hurling Coach’s Pep Talk

November 26, 2009

Moving right along with more material from “God and the Referees:  Unforgettable GAA Quotations” — these are supposed to be the words of one Jon Kenny, encouraging his hurlers before a big match.  A Kenny, true, but maybe (let us hope!) no relation of ours:

“Think of your fathers, think of your grandfathers, think of the men that died lads.  Jaysus, lads, the men that died so that you could get out there with a small ball to puck around.  So get out there lads, and let every blow lead to a feckin’ funeral.  Don’t be afraid to break hurleys lads — there’s plenty of hurleys on the sideline– hit ’em hard, they’re no relation.  I don’t want to see ye coming back in here with dirty jerseys, I want to see ye with bloodstained jerseys, so get out now boys… and enjoy yerselves.”

They do say that hurling can be a rather physical sport…

In a later posting  I’ll talk a bit about the history of the Gaelic Athletic Association, which has had such a great impact on modern Ireland.  Most of it good (despite some excesses).


Football in County Leitrim

November 24, 2009

From God and the Referees:  Unforgettable GAA Quotations, by Eoghan Corry:

“Three teams terrified the life out of us.  I still remember them, Aughnasheelin, Aughawilliam and Aughvass.  Aughawilliam and Aughvass would come down to play the Ballinamore lads, and strike terror into what was mostly a team of soft college boys.  They would stare you down before even a ball was thrown in, and try to disable you with the first move of the match.  We usually considered ourselves faster and fitter than them, but we weren’t tougher than them.”

Gus Martin Irish Press (15 August 1994)

I was born in Aughavas — was glad to see my native parish mentioned, even if it was mis-spelled (as was Aughawillan).  I remember, from when I was very small, watching an Irish football match.  We all cheered for Aughavas’s star player “Red” (Michael) Moran, my dad’s cousin.

And of course another relative, Colm O’Rourke, became a star player for County Meath at a later date, and then a noted sports commentator.  He will be quoted in a later posting…


Leave Them Alone

March 28, 2009

My previous post (“Audacity”) obviously does not belong under “Irish Matters” (even though it criticizes O’Bama)– if I knew how to change categories on that one I would.  I’m still trying to learn the ropes on this blogging business.

So here’s a real Irish item, from a poem by Patrick Kavanagh, “Leave Them Alone”– on not ranting and raving too much about what we read in the news (or on the internet!):

The whole hysterical passing show
The hour apotheosized
Into a cul-de-sac will go
And not even be despised.


March 27, 2009

I watched a good bit of President Obama’s news conference last Tuesday.  There were several answers on which I would take issue with him– but I’ll stick to just one, for now.  One thing at a time!

Question:  Are you reconsidering your plan to cut the interest rate deduction for mortgages and for charities? And do you regret having proposed that in the first place?

OBAMA:  No, I think it’s — I think it’s the right thing to do, where we’ve got to make some difficult choices…

Cutting the mortgage deduction might make sense, but would be very unpopular– so it isn’t likely to happen.  But what’s this about the charitable deduction?  I’d never heard of such a proposal.  The reporter followed up:

Q: It’s not the well-to-do people. It’s the charities. Given what you’ve just said, are you confident the charities are wrong when they contend that this would discourage giving?

OBAMA: Yes, I am. I mean, if you look at the evidence, there’s very little evidence that this has a significant impact on charitable giving.

Can he possibly believe this?  The math is very simple.  Suppose I’m a very charitable person in the 28% marginal tax bracket who is prepared to give $10,000 to a charity.  If  I actually give $13,900, 28% of this is $3,892 — so I’m only shelling out $10,008.  But for a richer giver in the 35%  bracket:  he can give $15,390 — 35% of which is $5,386,  so it only costs him $10,004!

The gov’t makes our giving tax-deductable because we’ve decided (as a country) that foregoing extra tax revenue is more than offset by the good done by what we give freely.  And will only allowing those 35%-ers to deduct 28% punish them– those awful people who gross more than $250,000?  Well, no– they will adjust their giving accordingly, downwards.

I was glad that in Wednesday’s Washington Post Martin Feldstein made the same point in more detail: A Donation From Charity But we shouldn’t need an economics professor to explain all this to us; anybody who has itemized tax deductions  should already knows it.

So  doesn’t the President know it?  And if he were so challenged by simple math, couldn’t the very smart people around him have explained it to him?  Or perhaps they are look forward to the additional $7 billion in revenue which this tax change (by Feldstein’s estimate) would provide?  All  at the expense of the charities.

Speaking of charity:  Mr. Feldstein says, in a very charitable way:   “I suspect that the administration officials who drafted this proposal did not understand that it would have this perverse effect”.

If he’s right on that, we are in trouble.  If he is wrong, our government is in the hands of some very cynical people.  Either way…

For St. Patrick’s day

March 17, 2009

Last night exchanging emails with Ed Schmahl, I turned to Irish poetry.  Here is one from the late 17th century by Daibhni O Brudair, lamenting the decline of the Irish language and culture.  Which was certainly happening then, just after the decisive defeat of O’Neill and his forces at Kinsale, leaving the English in full control of the country.  Anyway:

The High Poets Are Gone    by Dáibhni Ó Brudair

D’aithle na bhfileadh n-uasal,
truaghsan timheal an tsaoghail;
clann na n-ollamh go n-eagna
folamh gan freagra faobhair.

Truagh a leabhair ag liatha,
tiacha nach treabhair bhaoise;
ar ceal níor chóir a bhfoilcheas,
toircheas bhfear n-óil  na gaoise.

D’aithle na bhfileadh dár ionnmhas éigse is iul
is mairg de-chonnairc an chinneamhain d’éirigh dhúinn;
a leabhair ag titim i leimhe ‘s i léithe i gcúil
‘s ag macaibh na droinge gan sileadh dá séadaibh rún.

The high poets are gone
and I mourn for the world’s waning;
the sons of those learned masters
emptied of sharp responses.

I mourn for their fading books,
reams of no earnest stupidity,
lost—unjustly abandoned—
begotten by drinkers of wisdom.

After those poets, for whom art and knowledge were wealth,
alas to have lived to see this fate befall us:
their books in corners greying into nothing
and their sons without one syllable of their secret knowledge.

trans. by Thomas Kinsella—from
An Duanaire:  An Irish Anthology
1600-1900:  Poems of the Dispossessed

And after that not-so-cheerful item:  a happy St. Patrick’s day to all!