Farewell to a childhood hero and an old soldier who will never die

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There’s always a bit of poignancy when one of your childhood heroes passes away and I suppose too it’s a little reminder that you might be only a bus-stop away from your own final voyage.   On October’s final day of 2023, word filtered through that Dunmore footballing great Séamus Leydon had moved on, and straight away, it brought back memories of black and white television days and also occasional trips to Tuam Stadium.

As a child of the 1960s, they were for the most part innocent times . . .  the usual stuff – little by way of pocket money, a brakeless woman’s bike for transport, trips to a house back the road to watch a black-and-white Bush television, but for three glorious years in the 1960s we lived in a world of glory and wonder.

True, there was the disappointment of Galway’s 1963 All-Ireland final loss to Dublin, but from there on we were in a world of awe when as children we believed that our home county could never lose a match.

It was the world of black and white as far as TV pictures were concerned and Galway’s maroon jerseys were as dark as dark could be, on the 20 or 22-inch screens which took us off into a different world of athletic heroes.

The ‘television house’ was only maybe a mile-and-a-half away and while it was a trouble-free journey on August and September Sundays in the mid-1960s, the night-time trips to watch programmes like The Fugitive or the odd film where Leo the Lion roared at the start, were a bit more challenging.

When the King of the Jungle roared at the introduction of an MGM film, we all agreed that this was going to be ‘a good picture’ but there was too the realisation that a trip home on a battered and ‘lightless’ bike had to be made along a quite wooded road which housed an old RIC barracks with a reputation for being a haven for all kinds of ghosts.

They were though for the most part very happy childhood times as the woman of the ‘television house’, a lady by the name of Sarah Furey and her daughter Eileen (both gone to their eternal rewards), were the most hospitable and kindly people one could find on the planet.

Pictured: Childhood heroes: The Galway football team pictured before their 1-10 to 0-7 All-Ireland final success against Meath in September, 1966, as they completed the three-in-a-row. Seamus Leydon, back row, extreme left is the epitome of the young footballing athlete. Along with him in the backrow are Noel Tierney, Seán Meade, Mattie McDonagh RIP, Liam Sammon, John Keenan and Bosco McDermott. (Front): Seán Cleary, Coleen McDonagh, Cyril Dunne, Martin Newell, Enda Colleran RIP, Johnny Geraghty, Jimmy Duggan and Pat Donnellan.


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