Saturday 4th August 2007
Liam Connolly An Appreciation
Starting his playing career in pre-official juvenile GAA competitions with a group of local boys from Garrinch and Cahir Road in a local field he graduated to school league competitions at Fethard Patrician Brothers National School. I recall the boys who played with him in those games coming and telling me, “Liam Connolly was great, he can get the ball at one end of the field, solo to the other end and score a goal.” Graduating to Fethard and Coolmoyne minor teams he quickly gained recognition from county minor selectors in both football and hurling, winning an All-Ireland minor hurling medal in 1953. Liam also won an intermediate All-Ireland medal and brought his native parish its first All-Ireland senior hurling medal in 1958 going on to collect a second in 1961 and another, as a sub, in 1962. Liam was also an outstanding footballer. While he will perhaps be best remembered for his hurling exploits with Tipperary, people sometimes forget he was a member of the Tipperary senior football team for twelve years in the fifties and sixties giving some outstanding displays for Fethard and Tipperary during that period.
Indeed, as in his schoolboy days, he always could be depended upon to collect the ball, go through and score a goal when his team most needed one. Liam Connolly played the Gaelic Games by the rules as he played the game of life. The only time he ever fouled was going low with one hand to pluck the ball he sometimes went a bit too low and took a piece of grass as well. I can see him still, approaching a defender in almost nonchalant style then with a drop of his left or right shoulder getting the defender to commit himself, with a brilliant side-step and a snipe-like swerve to left or right Liam was gone, leaving his opponent wondering “how did he do that, or where is he now?”
At the end of his playing career, which continued until he was almost forty years old, Liam took a keen interest in all local teams. A regular attender at all Fethard and Tipperary games with his great friend and team mate, Sean Moloney, who played with Liam from the first days in O’Donnell’s field. Liam attended his last game at Monroe, Moyle Rovers home ground, the U/14 South final between Fethard and Commercials having attended the Tipperary Limerick match in Limerick earlier that day.
Liam played probably his greatest game in the game of life. His father died when Liam was just sixteen years old. Obliged to leave school he became the family’s chief provider taking over his father’s job driving the Fethard Laundry van. When Fethard Laundry closed he took up a position of bread server with the Cork based Mothers Pride Bakery. This meant a pre 5am start from Fethard, six mornings per week, to meet the feeder van in Clonmel. It is doubtful if Liam ever missed a morning during his time on the Clonmel Kilkenny bread run, getting through on icy and flooded roads when many others failed to do so. He continued until Mothers Pride closed the route and then became mini-bus driver taking the senior citizens from surrounding areas to Fethard and District Day Care Centre. He really enjoyed this experience, the old folk loved Liam and Liam certainly loved them. Unfortunately through ill health he was obliged to retire.
A devoted son and husband and brother, Liam visited his late mother every evening while she lived. Liam was devoted to his wife Annie. When she gave a term in hospital Liam words were, “I miss Annie terribly”. He did indeed miss her and she will miss him. The great faith of both of them will now stand to her in her sad loss.
In retirement Liam led a Fethard man’s simple life, nor asked for more. A man of deep faith, down every morning to ten o’clock Mass at which we was a daily Communicant, home with the paper, study a few horses, down to the betting office in the afternoon. Here, Liam invested a modest few euro daily on his naps for the day never leaving out a horse named as Gaeilge or one with ‘Annie’ in its name. A visit each evening to his brother Jim and in the summer a trip to an evening game with Sean Moloney and his friends that was Liam Connolly’s day.
Sean called on him to attend the Fethard Commercials game in Kilsheelan on Sunday 17th June last. Liam said, “Sean, I think I’ll give it a miss tonight. The old legs are not too good and I am going for a check-up tomorrow, I’ll be back during the week”. Alas, it was not to be.
Liam usually left you with the words of Sean Óg O’Ceallacháin, ‘Sin a bhfuil le chursaí spóirt don lae inniu’. Well the final whistle has blown for Liam, as it will blow for us all, an chursaí spóirt don lá inniu agus do lá amárach is complete.
There was a huge turn out of Tipperary and Fethard players for the removal of his remains and funeral. The number of All-Ireland Senior Hurling medal winners seen in the guard-of-honour, walking beside the hearse, will never be seen in Fethard again. His immediate opponent on many a hard fought Tipp Cork Munster S.H. clash of the fifties, the great Jimmy Brohan, whose ancestors came from Fethard, visited Liam during his final illness in Cork University Hospital.
Liam, from all your many friends in Fethard, especially those of us who were privileged to play with you, go dtí an lá go mbeirimíd go léir ag imirt le chéile i bPáirc an Tigherne ar neamh, slán go fóill.
One thing for sure, we may have great men but we’ll never have better. A lot of water will flow down the Clashawley by Fethard’s storied walls before we will see another to wear the Fethard blue like the peerless Liam Connolly. Ar dheis láimh Dé go mbeidh a anam usail dilís.
Months Mind Mass
Benefit Night at The Castle
Fethard & Killusty Community Lotto Results
Katie Wyse, c/o Diana Stokes;
The €50 Luck Dip winners were:
S. Maloney, Cloneen, Fethard;
Next week’s Jackpot continues at €10,000 and the Jackpot sellers prize is €1000.
Successful Fethard Tennis Camp
Sliabh na mBan Holy Year Cross
Fethard GAA Club News
The Minor B Hurling final round will be completed this week with Fethard finished and qualified. If Swans win their last game we will be placed 2nd and will play the winners of Group B in the South semifinal.
We play Junior A Football on this Friday 3rd August against Ballylooby/ Castlegrace in Cahir at 7.30pm.
The Under 21 B Hurling commences for Fethard when we play Ballybacon / Grange on Bank Holiday Tuesday 7th August in Clonmel at 7.00pm.
St Augustine’s 1982 reunion committee will be on the road in the next few weeks selling tickets so please lend your support in whatever way you can, it will be much appreciated.
The Lotto Draw Jackpot €6,000 was not won. The numbers drawn were: 5, 8, 12 and 27. There was no match three winner so the following tickets drawn won €30 each: Josie Fitzgerald (Kiltinan), Kathleen Connolly (The Valley), John Fitzgerald (Kiltinan), Margaret Dorney (Woodvale Walk), and Josie Fitzgerald (Kiltinan). The €50 Lucky Dip was won by Marie Claire (Gaule’s Bar, Fethard). Thanks to Harrington Development for supplying the tickets.
Plans for Fethard Walled Towns Day on 26th August
One of the colourful events will include the prehistoric Loughnashade Trumpet heralding a Medieval Heraldic Parade from The Square at 2pm and travelling to the Town Wall via Main Street and The Valley. The parade will display the large variety of Heraldic Coats of Arms made of the pupils of St Patrick’s Boys School, Nano Nagle National School and Killusty National School. There will also be special €50 voucher prizes each for the best adult male and female medieval costume and for the best under-15 boy’s and girl’s medieval costume taking part in the parade.
A big attraction on the day will be the renowned Lee Valley String Band from Cork who will entertain the crowd from 3pm to 5pm by the Town Wall. The Lee Valley String Band have played at festivals all over Ireland and appeared regularly on Radio and Television.
Gerard Crotty makes a very welcome return to Fethard to lead a guided walk on Fethard’s heraldic coats of arms starting at 12 noon from outside the Town Hall. Gerard is an expert in his field and his talk is not to be missed.
The Town Hall (downstairs) will house an exhibition of drawings of Fethard by students from Patrician Presentation Secondary School art classes from 10am to 2pm, where our local young musicians will also play live music from 1pm to 2pm.
Down by the Town Wall, Solas Art group will make an artistic 18ft colourful shell Mandela, commencing early morning. There will also be lots of entertainment, craft stalls and refreshments available.
Shay Hurley, Clonmel Workman’s Boat Club, will host a Clashawley River Walk at 2.30pm and there will also be an opportunity to meet and talk to the local expert on flora and fauna of South Tipperary, Liam Burke.
These events, coordinated by Fethard Historical Society, are kindly part-sponsored by The Heritage Council of Ireland, Failte Ireland and South Tipperary County Council.