For the past two weeks, prompted by the illness of a close friend, I have been thinking more and more of times past and especially the halcyon times associated with Athy and my now long past teenage years. Those carefree days lived out, in otherwise harsh times, bring back wonderful memories of youthful friendships, football and girls. The order in which they appear is not indicative of our preferences, for at different stages of my youth, each played a more prominent part than the others. Youthful memories are refocused by photographs of the time and in the nature of things, it is almost inevitable that football leaves plenty of photographic evidence for future enjoyment.
The Christian Brothers were noted for promoting Gaelic games in their schools and here in Athy Gaelic football, rather than hurling, was the more favoured. There was no question in the 1950s of either soccer or rugby being part of the school sporting activity. Each Wednesday afternoon the boys of the Christian Brothers Secondary School took off what we enthusiastically referred to as a half day when in fact it was perhaps only an hour or so, to walk to Geraldine Park for a game of football. Football was the sport enthusiastically taken up by most youngsters in those days and nowhere was that enthusiasm more pronounced than in a provincial Ireland devoid of sporting facilities other than playing fields of varying sizes and quality.
My first involvement in a Gaelic football team was with the Under 14 school team when I played at left full back for three years. Recently I was given a copy photograph of the Athy Christian Brothers Under 14 team which I’m assured was taken in 1956. That photo which is reproduced here shows from left to right at back:-
Francis Webb, Paul Cunningham, Michael Rowan, Frank Taaffe, Brian Finn, Mick O’Neill, J. Murphy, Mick Cardiff, Donal Barr and Moses Doyle.
In the front row are:-
Pat Timpson, Eddie Hearns, Johnny Miller, Edmund Loughman, Peter Archibald, Oliver Moran, Hugh McDonnell, Niall Fingleton and Johnny Hoare.
Sadly Frank Webb, Mick Cardiff and Niall Fingleton have passed away. Several of that team are still in the Athy area but I wonder to where life has brought the other youngsters of 50 years ago?
I see from last week’s newspaper that the long awaited Outer Relief Road, now renamed the Southern Distributor Route, has been advanced with the preparation of the Compulsory Purchase Order and the Environmental Impact Study. There is nothing however to show that funding is available for the road and it would appear that construction work on the road may have to be attempted in three different phases. In the meantime the spur road from the N9 continues to be built and will be completed shortly. If the Southern Distributor Road had been incorporated into the N9 spur road at the planning and approval stages, we would be facing into the exciting prospect of having the local traffic problems solved during the course of this year.
Instead we are facing into more traffic studies, the latest of which appears to want to deal with the traffic situation by creating a number of strange new roadways and by imposing restrictions on current routes.
A new road is proposed to be built through the Peoples Park to facilitate access to houses at Park Crescent. I wonder is it also to provide an entrance to land locked pieces of property purchased some years ago in anticipation of the building of the Inner Relief Road
The realignment of Church Road to link it directly with Dublin Road at the Railway Bridge is another element of the plan which would seem to be somewhat strange.
I am puzzled at what is proposed in the new Traffic Management Plan for Athy and feel that the Council are yet again failing to grasp the importance of concentrating all their resources on getting the Outer Relief Road in place.