I was in the company of two Sligo men last Saturday as the sun finally set on Kildare’s race for the current years football championship. We were not in Croke Park but rather part of a family group gathered together to celebrate not one but two weddings which had taken place 40 years ago. Despite my best efforts to combine the celebrations with what I promised would be a quick visit to Croke Park, “sure I’ll be back in plenty of time”, the better half thought otherwise and mapped out my programme for Saturday afternoon. It was not to include a visit to Jones’ Road so I was dependent on the less than dulcet tones of local radio to follow the progress, or rather the lack of it, of Kildare’s footballing heroes.
When the final whistle went not even the two Sligo men felt able to raise a cheer for in truth, although born in Sligo their allegiances were the same as mine. For you see the two Sligo men were my brothers George and Tony, born in Ballymote and Easkey even before the hungry ‘40’s was a spec on the horizon. We were joined by another brother Jack, born in County Mayo and to complete the kaleidoscope of Irish counties wasn’t I myself always proud, especially during the football starvation years, of my Kilkenny heritage. Kildare for the football, Kilkenny for the hurling. Oh shades of ’98 when both my favourite counties inexplicably stumbled at the last hurdle when least expected to do so.
With Kildare’s defeat I am left clutching for reflected glory in my support of the Black and Amber. It is not often the Kilkenny cat in me is disappointed and that County’s wealth of success over the years prompts me to offer the loss of at least five hurling championships if, but only if Kildare could but once take ould Sam Maguire for a stroll down Athy’s main street.
During the week a letter was passed on to me from Kathleen Brodie, the great grand-daughter of Michael Malone, better remembered by the older members of the local community as “Crutch” Malone. “Crutch” because he had a deformed leg which was thrust up behind him, presumably necessitating the use of a crutch to get him around. He was a publican from Woodstock Street, his premises now owned and operated by Pat Dunne. Originally a native of Barrowhouse where he is today buried, he was for many years a member of Athy Urban District Council and a former member of the Town Council. He is perhaps best remembered today as author of “The Annals of Athy” published in 1932 or thereabouts, copies of which can still be found in many of the homes of Athy.
Kathleen Brodie was seeking the family details, photographs or memorabilia for a family album in the course of preparation for the August wedding of another Michael Malone, a great grandson of “Crutch” Malone. I would like to hear from anyone who can help Mrs. Brodie with her quest.
Help is also required, this time by myself, in compiling background information on John Keenan and his brother Tommy, both of whom served in the Irish Defence Forces during World War II. I understand that they served from 1939 with their father who had himself fought during World War II and who returned home from the 1914-1918 War suffering from serious injuries. My enquiries to date have located two Keenan families, one from Meeting Lane, the other and more likely connected with the family of my enquiry from Dooley’s Terrace. There must surely be many readers who can help me with my enquiries concerning John Keenan whom I am told left Athy around 1947. Looking forward to hearing from you.
While I am seeking your help can I put another name before you, that of Seamus Malone, a member of the teaching staff at Athy Christian Brothers School in the early 1920’s and one time Secretary of Athy G.F.C. It was Seamus Malone’s dynamic leadership which saw the local club develop with renewed energy after its earlier collapse during the years immediately following the 1916 Insurrection. Seamus spent some time in Mountjoy Prison during the Troubles and was later involved with socialism, although my information in relation to that aspect of his life is somewhat sketchy. I know he taught for a period in Newtown School in Waterford from 1936 but what happened to him thereafter is a mystery. It’s a long shot I know but maybe someone reading this has some connection with Waterford where I believe he lived out his last years. Perhaps you could pass on my enquiry to anyone living in the Waterford locality who might be able to fill me in on Seamus Malone’s life after he left Athy.
I received an interesting phone call during the past week from a reader who wanted to know if I was aware of an Athy woman who was one of the librarians of the American Irish Historical Society on 5th Avenue in New York. My interest aroused I had to confess that I had no knowledge of the good lady and her name Toomey struck no immediate chord. However, since that phone call I have been trying to recall names long forgotten and unless I am very much mistaken the name Toomey was once associated with the legal profession in Athy many years ago. I wonder is this a connection. Watch this space for updates on my search to find the missing link!