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  • 33cm x 57cm In the winter of 1893, prospectors Patrick (Paddy) Hannan, Tom Flanagan, and Dan Shea were travelling to Mount Youle, when one of their horses cast a shoe. During the halt in their journey, the men noticed signs of gold in the area around the foot of what is now the Mount Charlotte gold mine, located on a small hill north of the current city, and decided to stay and investigate. On 17 June 1893, Hannan filed a Reward Claim, leading to hundreds of men swarming to the area in search of gold, and Kalgoorlie, originally called Hannan's Find, was born.
    Hannan Street in September 1930; the Exchange Hotel is at the centre, with the Palace Hotel on the right.
    The population of the town was 2,018 (1,516 males and 502 females) in 1898. The mining of gold, along with other metals such as nickel, has been a major industry in Kalgoorlie ever since, and today employs about one-quarter of Kalgoorlie's workforce and generates a significant proportion of its income. The concentrated area of large gold mines surrounding the original Hannan's find is often referred to as the Golden Mile, and was sometimes referred to as the world's richest square mile of earth. In 1901, the population of Kalgoorlie was 4,793 (3,087 males and 1,706 females) which increased to 6,790 (3,904 males and 2,886 females) by 1903. The 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) narrow-gauge Government Eastern Goldfields Railway line reached Kalgoorlie station in 1896, and the main named railway service from Perth was the overnight sleeper train The Westland, which ran until the 1970s. In 1917, a 4 ft 8+12 in(1,435 mm) standard gauge railway line was completed, connecting Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, South Australia, across 2,000 kilometres (1,243 mi) of desert, and consequently the rest of the eastern states. The standardisation of the railway connecting Perth (which changed route from the narrow-gauge route) in 1968 completed the Sydney–Perth railway, making rail travel from Perth to Sydney possible; the Indian Pacific rail service commenced soon after. During the 1890s, the Goldfields area boomed as a whole, with an area population exceeding 200,000, composed mainly of prospectors. The area gained a reputation for being a "wild west", notorious for its bandits and prostitutes. This rapid increase in population and claims of neglect by the state government in Perth led to the proposition of the new state of Auralia, but with the sudden diaspora after the Gold Rush, these plans fell through. Places, famous or infamous, for which Kalgoorlie is noted include its water pipeline, designed by C. Y. O'Connor and bringing in fresh water from Mundaring Weir near Perth, its Hay Street brothels, its two-up school, the goldfields railway loopline, the Kalgoorlie Town Hall, the Paddy Hannan statue/drinking fountain, the Super Pit, and Mount Charlotte lookout. Its main street is Hannan Street, named after the town's founder. One of the infamous brothels also serves as a museum and is a major national attraction. Paddy Hannan was the son of John Hannan and Bridget Lynch, and was baptised on 26 April 1840 in the town of Quin, County Clare, Ireland. His baptismal record shows that his godparents (sponsors) were Margaret Lynch and John O'Brien. Many of the people in his family emigrated to Australia from 1852 onwards, and close ties were maintained. Two of Hannan's nieces would welcome Hannan into their house for the last years of his life. Hannan emigrated to Australia when he was 22, arriving in Melbourne on 23 December 1862 aboard the Henry Fernie from Liverpool. He is recorded in the passenger list as Pat Hannan, a labourer.

    Prospecting success

    Hannan's Western Australian miner's right, 1893
    In 1893 in Western Australia, Hannan and his partners were the first to find gold near Mount Charlotte, less than 40 kilometres from the existing Coolgardie Goldfields. Hannan, Flanagan and Shea were following a large number of prospectors who set out for a rumoured new prospect at Mount Youle. One version of the story of the find has it that on the night of 14 June 1893, Hannan found gold in a gully. Not wanting to cause a rush, he concealed the find. During the night the trio moved one of their horses into the scrub. The following morning Hannan informed the main party they were going to stay behind to find their lost horse. After the main group moved off east, the three men started to pick up the gold and peg out their lease. Amongst the various counter-claims to emerge over the years, one lively version of the story was told in 1909 by Fred Dugan (another prospector, who was present at the time) relating how Thomas Flanagan found the first nuggets, and covered his find with brushwood to conceal it until the following day. By law, those finding "payable" gold were required to report the fact to the warden's office within seven days, so Hannan set off for Coolgardie to register their find, doing so on 17 June 1893. It has been suggested that Hannan, rather than Flanagan or Shea, was chosen to officially register the claim because only he could read and write, but there is evidence that Flanagan was literate, since, in 1864, he had clearly signed the official death certificate of his brother John Flanagan, and had written his own place of residence at the time - White Hills (in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia). The other possible reasons for Hannan going alone to the office at Coolgardie are set out by Martyn Webb,who relates that:
    The fact that Flanagan and Shea were able to secure another 100 ounces while Hannan was away registering their claim at Coolgardie might help to explain why Hannan was chosen ... simply because they were better at specking than he was – it needs good eyesight. On the other hand, since the journey was arduous and had to be done as quickly as possible, Hannan might have been chosen because, as Uren and others suggest, he was the youngest and the fittest of the three. … The most likely reason … was that he was the undisputed leader of the party.
    — Webb, p. 103
    Hannan registered the claim in Flanagan's name as well as his own. Within hours a stampede began. It was estimated that about 400 men were prospecting in the area within three days, and over 1,000 within a week.

    Final years

    Hannan's grave in Melbourne Central Cemetery, Section Y
    In 1904, at the age of sixty-four, Hannan was granted an annual pension of £150 by the Government of Western Australia. Having searched for gold throughout his adult life, he did not cease his prospecting activities until after 1910, his seventieth year. At that time he went to live with two of his nieces in Fallon Street, Brunswick, Victoria (close to the city of Melbourne). He died there in 1925 and was buried in Melbourne Central Cemetery, in the Catholic section, near the North Gate. In 1993 his grave was restored by the citizens of Kalgoorlie, led by Tess Thomson, as a part of the celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the original find by Hannan, Flanagan and Shea.


    1929 statue of Paddy Hannan in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
    In memory of a man who is regarded as the founder of Kalgoorlie, the main street and a suburb in Kalgoorlie both bear Hannan's name, and in 1929 a statue of him by the sculptor John MacLeod was erected there. The city boasts several commemorative plaques to the three Irishmen, Hannan, Flanagan and Shea. A popular Irish pub at the Burswood Entertainment Complex was also named after Hannan. In Ireland there is a plaque dedicated to his memory opposite Quin Abbey, Quin, County Clare, and there is a bust with an explanatory dedication on display inside the DeValera Library in Ennis, County Clare.
  • Beautiful artwork depicting the ultra talented but ill fated Derby Winner Shergar. Origins :Naas  Co Kildare.       Dimensions: 60cm x 70cm      Glazed Shergar was an Irish-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse. After a very successful season in 1981 he was retired to the Ballymany Stud in County Kildare, Ireland. In 1983 he was stolen from the stud, and a ransom of £2 million was demanded; it was not paid, and negotiations were soon broken off by the thieves. In 1999 a supergrass, formerly in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), stated they stole the horse. The IRA has never admitted any role in the theft. The Aga Khan, Shergar's owner, sent the horse for training in Britain in 1979 and 1980. Shergar began his first season of racing in September 1980 and ran two races that year, where he won one and came second in the other. In 1981 he ran in six races, winning five of them. In June that year he won the 202nd Epsom Derby by ten lengths—the longest winning margin in the race's history. Three weeks later he won the Irish Sweeps Derby by four lengths; a month after that he won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes by four lengths. In his final race of the year he came in fourth, and the Aga Khan took the decision to retire him to stud in Ireland. After Shergar's Epsom Derby win, the Aga Khan sold 40 shares in the horse, valuing it at £10 million. Retaining six shares, he created an owners' syndicate with the remaining 34 members. Shergar was stolen from the Aga Khan's stud farm by an armed gang on 8 February 1983. Negotiations were conducted with the thieves, but the gang broke off all communication after four days when the syndicate did not accept as true the proof provided that the horse was still alive. In 1999 Sean O'Callaghan, a former member of the IRA, published details of the theft and stated that it was an IRA operation to raise money for arms. He said that very soon after the theft, Shergar had panicked and damaged his leg, which led to him being killed by the gang. An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph concluded that the horse was shot four days after the theft. No arrests have ever been made in relation to the theft. Shergar's body has never been recovered or identified; it is likely that the body was buried near Aughnasheelin, near Ballinamore, County Leitrim. In honour of Shergar, the Shergar Cup was inaugurated in 1999. His story has been made into two screen dramatisations, several books and two documentaries.
  • Rossbrin wall box

    The first act of the Irish Free State after independence was to paint all the post boxes throughout the country green. It was a brilliant stroke – royal red replaced by emerald green in one of the most visible and ubiquitous symbols of national administration.

    Penfold Skibb

    The Penfold post box in Skibbereen, one of only a handful left in Ireland

    Ironically, the post boxes themselves did not change, so the royal insignias were simply over-painted by the new colour. The result was a charming mixture of tradition and adaptation that serves as an ongoing reminder of the history of Ireland and its institutions.

    A commemorative sheet of stamps which are going on sale to mark 200 years since the birth of Anthony Trollope (Royal Mail/PA)
    Special stamps issued by the Royal Mail in 2015 to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Anthony Trollope

    The first post boxes were introduced to Ireland in the 1850s by the novelist Anthony Trollope, then a Surveyor for the Post Office. Trollope was happy in Ireland and wrote several novels and stories set here, although they are not the works for which he is most remembered.

    Trollope Book Cover

    We don’t usually think of Anthony Trollope as an Irish novelist but he lived here for almost 20 years, spent working for the Post Office and writing

    One of the earliest models for a free-standing post box came to be known as the Penfold, after its designer, J W Penfold. They were manufactured and deployed from 1866 to 1879 and very few have survived in Ireland to this day – only six are known and of these only three are still in operation. Skibbereen has one of those, and very fine it is: one hundred and fifty years old and still in daily use!

    Penfold Acanthus Leaf

    The hexagonal Penfold designed was apparently inspired by the Temple of the Winds in Athens (although the Temple is octagonal), with the addition of an acanthus leaf on the cap and a smart bud-shaped finial and beading.

    BenQ Digital Camera
    Photograph of the Temple of the Winds from Wikipedia

    Our Skibbereen Penfold is in excellent condition: note the royal insignia and the entwined VR for Victoria Regina.

    Penfold Skibb closer

    The Penfolds were replaced by round pillar boxes because there were too many complaints that the hexagonal design caused letters to stick. These cylindrical boxes can be seen everywhere in Ireland still, although mostly in towns and cities. The one below is on Grand Parade in Cork.

    Cork Post box

    Ferguson post box book

    In his book The Irish Post Box, which I gratefully acknowledge as the source of much of the information in this blog post, Stephen Ferguson describes the three main types of post boxes that have been developed for use in Ireland: pillar, wall and lamp. In rural areas, such as West Cork, wall and lamp boxes are the most common forms I have encountered.

    Skibb wall box

    Here’s a representative wall box in Skibbereen. Interestingly, it’s part of a mini-complex of historical markers including the plaque to the Clerke sisters (see my posts From Skibbereen to the Moon Part 1 and Part 2 for more about these remarkable women and their family) and signs for the Skibbereen heritage walking trail, all mounted together on the wall of what was the main bank in Skibbereen during the Famine period.

    Skibb post box

    The box was manufactured by W T Allen and Co of London and bears the ornately scrolled insignia  and crown of Edward the VII, which places it between 1901 to 1910.

    Bantry Wall Box

    Here’s another nice one in Bantry, a Victorian one, although this time the VR lettering is simpler than on the Penfold. This one has been painted so often that the embossed POST OFFICE on the protective hood has almost disappeared under the layers.

    Bantry Wall Box closer

    Lamp boxes were designed for remote areas where a suitable wall might not be readily available. Ferguson explains: 

    Lamp post boxes, based on a design used by the United States Postal Service, were first introduced in 1896 in London as a response to calls for more post boxes throughout the city. Affixed to a street lamp, the boxes were used at locations where the expense of a pillar or wall box could not be justified. In Ireland, however, they were often deployed in rural areas where, attached to a telegraph or specially erected pole by metal clips, they were very useful in extending postal collections to remote and sparsely populated regions. Tucked under hedges or used sometimes as a smaller version of a wall box, these post boxes were relatively cheap to make and easy to install and they symbolise…the extraordinary influence and reach of the Post Office as an institution at the height of its powers.

    Post box near Barleycove

    Driving or walking around rural Ireland, look out for ‘lamp’ boxes. Here’s one from the road near Barley Cove.

    Pole Box near Barley Cove

    Post_Box_P_T_SE_Washington_Street__Cork.A closer inspection reveals this one bears the P & T logo that was in use between 1939 and 1984, before it was replaced by the brand ‘An Post’. Sometimes the old royal initials were ground off the boxes, or sometimes the doors were replaced with new ones bearing the P&T lettering, but it seems that considerations of cost (always paramount with the careful Post Office) allowed many to simply remain in place as they were. In the early years of the new state, some were embossed with the Saorstát Éireann logo (even sharing the door with a VR insignia) but that practice was relatively short lived and I have found no examples to it yet in West Cork. The website Irish Postal History has this example from Washington Street in Cork.

    Most scenic postbox

    On Cape  Clear – the most scenic post box in Ireland?

    If no lamp post or suitable pole existed, a simple stake was erected to which a box could be attached. Cape Clear Island didn’t get electricity until the 1970s, so this post box (above and below) must predate the advent of poles. The logo, however, is that of An Post, which was established as the new brand in 1984. Perhaps the poles were only erected island-wide after the submarine cable was laid in the 1990s.

    Cape Clear post box closer

    Not all mail boxes have been retained for active use – so what happens to them? Many simply remain in situ, as a picturesque reminder of times when we actually wrote to each other instead of texting or emailing. The one below at Rossbrin, near Ballydehob, was once attached to the wall outside the old schoolhouse. The first photograph at the start of today’s post shows its location.

    Rossbring Wall box 3

    And this one, at Ahakista, has been repurposed as a wayside shrine.


    But even if it’s still in use, sometimes a mail boxes can’t be used for its real purpose, but has more important work to do! I don’t know where this last photograph was taken or whose work this is – it was widely circulated on the internet – but I would be happy to credit the photographer if I knew who it was. Delighted to have this also as an example of a post box from the reign of George V, 1910 to 1936.

    Post box birds nest

  • 42cm x 31cm  Limerick Here’s a quick, but loaded, question: Do you prefer Barry’s or Lyons? The Great Irish Tea War is the most intractable rivalry in the country. While Munster and Leinster have been known to put their differences aside for the sake of Irish rugby glory, tea drinkers are not so easily appeased. Mention a preference for the “wrong” tea and you can expect strong words at best – and definitely no biscuits. At worst, tea drinkers will go cup to cup in pitched battles, kettles angrily steaming, while insults like curdled milk sour friendships and family relationships. It’s more than just a battle of the brews. Barry’s Tea was founded the Rebel City in 1901 and is still one of Cork’s most famous brands. Lyons is originally from Dublin. Do you prefer Barry’s to Lyons? The yellow Snack or the purple one? Tayto or King Crisps? Cork or Dublin? Really, it is all a matter of taste…  But there are many great reasons why anyone looking for a new job, or a whole new life, should consider a move to Cork.
    Lyons is a brand of tea belonging to Unilever that is sold in Ireland. It is one of the two dominant tea brands in the market within the Republic of Ireland, along with Barry's Tea. Lyons Tea was first produced by J. Lyons and Co., a catering empire created and built by the Salmons and Glucksteins, a German-Jewish immigrant family based in London. Starting in 1904, J Lyons began selling packaged tea through its network of teashops. Soon after, they began selling their own brand Lyons Tea through retailers in the UK, Ireland and around the world.In 1918, Lyons purchased Hornimans and in 1921 they moved their tea factory to J. Lyons and Co., Greenford at that time, the largest tea factory in Europe. In 1962, J Lyons and Company (Ireland) became Lyons Irish Holdings. After a merger with Allied Breweries in 1978, Lyons Irish Holdings became part of Allied Lyons (later Allied Domecq) who then sold the company to Unilever in 1996. Today, Lyons Tea is produced in England. Lyons Tea was a major advertiser in the early decades of RTÉ Television, featuring the "Lyons minstrels" and coupon-based prize competitions. The story of J Lyons is told in the book 'Legacy: One Family, a Cup of Tea and the Company that Took On the World' by Thomas Harding (writer)

    Popular culture

    A Lyons Tea sign is shown in the background in a scene in Castletown in The Quiet Man (1952), the iconic film directed by John Ford that starred John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Again in Ford’s ‘’How Green Was My Valley’’ (1941) an advertisement for Lyon’s Tea is to be seen in an early scene under the shop window near the church. In the BBC/RTÉ Mrs Brown's Boys TV series, there is a box of Lyons Tea sitting on top of the bread bin in Mrs Brown's kitchen. In Chariots of Fire, a Lyons sign is shown at Dover train station.
  • 47cm x 35cm Barry's Tea is an Irish tea company founded in 1901 by James J. Barry in Cork. Until the 1960s, tea was sold from a shop in Prince's Street, but thereafter the company expanded its wholesaling and distribution operations. By the mid-1980s Barry's Tea had become a national brand. According to their website, they are currently responsible for 38% of all tea sales in the Irish market (which is worth an estimated €85 million annually). Today, Barry's Tea is also available in the United Kingdom, Spain, and in some areas of Canada, Australia, France, Luxembourg and the United States where there are significant Irish immigrant communities. Members of the Barry family been elected representatives for Fine Gael: the founder's son Anthony Barry (TD 1954–57 and 1961–65), Anthony's son Peter Barry (TD 1969–97) and Peter's daughter Deirdre Clune (TD 1997–2001 and 2007–11, and MEP since 2014).

  • 45cm x 35cm I got this piece of interesting information from ‘The Unquiet Grave‘, The Development of Kerry’s Burial Grounds through the Ages – that very interesting book edited by Michael Connolly for Kerry County Council. The chapter on A Tale of Two Tombs tells the fascinating story of the rise and fall of the Donovan family of Tralee, who were wealthy merchants in the town through three generations in 1800’s.   Some of you will remember that the Donovans also owned the Jeanie Johnston, which was the Donovan’s most important ship carrying emigrants on the outward journey to Quebec and bringing cargoes of timber back on the return voyage.  John Donovan was the founding father and set up a hardware business initially in the Square, Tralee and then branched out leasing and owning shipping bringing iron, coal and slate to Tralee.    His sons Nicholas and Henry followed him, they also became the leading political as well as the leading merchants in the town.  There is a brilliant description of John’s funeral .  He died in 1864 when he was 82 and we are told ‘All the stops were pulled out for the full pageantry of Victorian obsequies’.     The Kerry Evening Posreported ‘an unusual grief had fallen upon the town’.   According to the same newspaper there were 174 carriages, and there was an important extra little detail -‘the majority were drawn by two horses’ – a two-horse carriage indicated greater social standing than a one-horse carriage’  Try and get hold of this very interesting book from the County Council or log on here for the digital version.
    MKA Funeral Keening

    Woman Keening

    And were there any women there at all?    Yes, but they were there with a purpose – to provide the all important keening that was then the expected norm at all funerals of all classes.  At this funeral we are told ‘The poor of the town, beneficiaries of John Donovan’s generosity, congregated outside the house in The Square, and when the coffin was removed to the hearse, they set up an immense keening, which they continued as they followed the funeral all the way to Ballyseedy’. Another interesting fact relating to women and their own funerals at this time was that ‘while men were buried in the middle of the day, the women, on the other hand were buried early in the morning, regardless of the time of year’.  John Donovan’s own wife Catherine was buried in the dark at 6am on a February morning and Nicholas’ wife was buried at the same time in December 1878.   ‘Only Henry’s wife was buried in daylight and that was because the burial was at 8am on an August morning in 1885.    The higher status of men was constantly affirmed.  We have come a long way!    
  • 27cm x 27cm Castlegregory Co Kerry Fine framed print  of the legendary Irish Antarctic explorer and hero,Tom Crean mending blankets with his colleague on Shackleton's final Expedition Thomas Crean (c. 16 February 1877 – 27 July 1938) was an Irish seaman and Antarctic explorer who was awarded the Albert Medal for Lifesaving. Crean was a member of three major expeditions to Antarctica during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, including Robert Falcon Scott's 1911–1913 Terra Nova Expedition. This saw the race to reach the South Pole lost to Roald Amundsen and ended in the deaths of Scott and his party. During the expedition, Crean's 35-statute-mile (56 km) solo walk across the Ross Ice Shelf to save the life of Edward Evans led to him receiving the Albert Medal. Crean left the family farm near Annascaul, in County Kerry, to enlist in the Royal Navy at age 16. In 1901, while serving on Ringarooma in New Zealand, he volunteered to join Scott's 1901–1904 Discovery Expedition to Antarctica, thus beginning his exploring career. After his experience on the Terra Nova, Crean's third and final Antarctic venture was as second officer on Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. After the ship Endurance became beset in the pack ice and sank, Crean and the ship's company spent 492 days drifting on the ice before undertaking a journey in the ship's lifeboats to Elephant Island. He was a member of the crew which made a small-boat journey of 800 nautical miles (1,500 km) from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island to seek aid for the stranded party. After retiring from the navy on health grounds in 1920, Crean ran his pub the South Pole Inn in County Kerry with his wife and daughters. He died in 1938. Crean was born around 16 February 1877 in the farming area of Gurtuchrane near the village of Annascaul on Corca Dhuibhne in County Kerry, Ireland, to Patrick and Catherine (née Courtney) Crean. One of 11 siblings with 7 brothers and 3 sisters. He attended the local Catholic school (at nearby Brackluin), leaving at the age of 12 to help on the family farm. Many sources, including Smith, give Crean's date of birth as 20 July 1877,but more recent scholarship demonstrates this is unlikely given parish records. At the age of 16, he enlisted in the Royal Navy at the naval station in nearby Minard Inlet, possibly after an argument with his father.His enlistment as a boy second class is recorded in Royal Navy records on 10 July 1893. Crean's initial naval apprenticeship was aboard the training ship Impregnable at Devonport. In November 1894, he was transferred to Devastation. In December 1894, Crean was posted to HMS Wild Swan a screw sloop as the ship headed to South America to join the Pacific Station. In 1895, Crean was serving in the Americas aboard Royal Arthur, the flagship assigned to the Pacific squadron’s base at Esquimalt in Canada. He was by this time, rated an ordinary seaman. Less than a year later, while serving a second term of service aboard Wild Swan he was rated an able seaman.He later joined the Navy's torpedo school ship, Defiance. By 1899, Crean had advanced to the rate of petty officer, second class and was serving in Vivid.In 1900, Crean was ledgered to the cruiser HMS Ringarooma, which was part of the Royal Navy's  Australian Squadron based in  Sydney. On 18 December 1901, he was demoted from petty officer to able seaman for an unspecified misdemeanour.In December 1901, the Ringarooma was ordered to assist Robert Falcon Scott's ship Discovery when it was docked at Lyttelton Harbour awaiting to departure to Antarctica. When an able seaman of Scott's ship deserted after striking a petty officer, a replacement was required; Crean volunteered, and was accepted.

    Discovery Expedition, 1901–1904

    Aerial view of Hut Point, near McMurdo Station, Antarctica
    Aerial view of Hut Point, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica – the location of Discovery's base, in 1902–04
    Discovery sailed to the Antarctic on 21 December 1901, and seven weeks later, on 8 February 1902, arrived in McMurdo Sound, where she anchored at a spot which was later designated "Hut Point".Here the men established the base from which they would launch scientific and exploratory sledging journeys. Crean proved to be one of the most efficient man-haulers in the party; over the expedition as a whole, only seven of the 48-member party logged more time in harness than Crean's 149 days.]Crean had a good sense of humour and was well liked by his companions. Scott's second-in-command, Albert Armitage, wrote in his book Two Years in the Antarctic that "Crean was an Irishman with a fund of wit and an even temper which nothing disturbed." Crean accompanied Lieutenant Michael Barne on three sledging trips across the Ross Ice Shelf, then known as the "Great Ice Barrier". These included the 12-man party led by Barne which set out on 30 October 1902 to lay depots in support of the main southern journey undertaken by Scott, Shackleton and Edward Wilson. On 11 November the Barne party passed the previous furthest south mark,set by Carsten Borchgrevink in 1900 at 78°50'S, a record which they held briefly until the southern party itself passed it on its way to an eventual 82°17'S. During the Antarctic winter of 1902 Discovery became locked in the ice. Efforts to free her during the summer of 1902–03 failed, and although some of the expedition's members (including Ernest Shackleton) left in a relief ship, Crean and the majority of the party remained in the Antarctic until the ship was finally freed in February 1904. After returning to regular naval duty, Crean was promoted to petty officer, first class, on Scott's recommendation.

    Between expeditions, 1904–1910

    Crean came back to regular duty at the naval base at Chatham, Kent, serving first in Pembroke in 1904 and later transferring to the torpedo school on Vernon. Crean had caught Captain Scott's attention with his attitude and work ethic on the Discovery Expedition, and in 1906 Scott requested that Crean join him on Victorious.Over the next few years, Crean followed Scott successively to Albemarle, Essex and Bulwark.By 1907, Scott was planning his second expedition to the Antarctic. Meanwhile, Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition, 1907–09, despite reaching a new furthest south record of 88°23'S, had failed to reach the South Pole. Scott was with Crean when the news of Shackleton's near miss became public; it is recorded that Scott observed to Crean: "I think we'd better have a shot next."

    Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–1913

    Six men are working with sleds and camping equipment, close to a pointed tent pitched on a snowy surface. Nearby, upright skis have been parked in the snow
    Scott's polar party at 87°S, 31 December 1911, before Crean's return with the last supporting party
    Scott held Crean in high regard, so he was among the first people recruited for the Terra Nova Expedition, which set out for the Antarctic in June 1910, and one of the few men in the party with previous polar experience. After the expedition's arrival in McMurdo Sound in January 1911, Crean was as part of the 13-man team who established "One Ton Depot",130 statute miles (210 km) from Hut Point.so named because of the large amount of food and equipment cached there on the projected route to the South Pole. Returning from the depot to base camp at Cape Evans, Crean, accompanied by Apsley Cherry-Garrard and Henry "Birdie" Bowers, experienced near-disaster when camping on unstable sea ice. During the night the ice broke up, leaving the men adrift on an ice floe and separated from their sledges. Crean probably saved the group's lives, by leaping from floe to floe until he reached the Barrier edge and was able to summon help.
    Petty officers Edgar Evans and Crean mending sleeping bags (May 1911)
    Crean departed with Scott in November 1911, for the attempt at the South Pole. This journey had three stages: 400 statute miles (640 km) across the Barrier, 120 statute miles (190 km) up the heavily crevassed Beardmore Glacier to an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, and then another 350 statute miles (560 km) to the Pole.At regular intervals, supporting parties returned to base; Crean was in the final group of eight men that marched on to the polar plateau and reached 87°32'S, 168 statute miles (270 km) from the pole. Here, on 4 January 1912, Scott selected his final polar party: Crean, William Lashly and Edward Evans were ordered to return to base, while Scott, Edgar Evans, Edward Wilson, Bowers and Lawrence Oates continued to the pole. Crean's biographer Michael Smith suggests that Crean would have been a better choice for the polar party than Edgar Evans, who was weakened by a recent hand injury (of which Scott was unaware). Crean, considered one of the toughest men in the expedition, had led a pony across the Barrier and had thus been saved much of the hard labour of man-hauling.Scott's critical biographer Roland Huntford records that the surgeon Edward L Atkinson, who had accompanied the southern party to the top of the Beardmore, had recommended either Lashly or Crean for the polar party rather than Edgar Evans.Scott in his diary recorded that Crean wept with disappointment at the prospect of having to turn back, so close to the goal.
    Two men stand on snowy ground, with a dark sky background, each man with a white pony. The men are dressed in heavy winter clothing. A caption reads: "Petty Officers Crean and Evans exercising their ponies in the winter".
    Tom Crean and Edgar Evans exercising ponies, winter 1911
    Soon after heading north on the 700-statute-mile (1,100 km) journey back to base camp, Crean's party lost the trail back to the Beardmore Glacier, and were faced with a long detour around a large icefall.With food supplies short, and needing to reach their next supply depot, the group made the decision to slide on their sledge, uncontrolled, down the icefall. The three men slid 2,000 feet (600 m),dodging crevasses up to 200 feet (61 m) wide, and ending their descent by overturning on an ice ridge. Evans later wrote: "How we ever escaped entirely uninjured is beyond me to explain". The gamble at the icefall succeeded, and the men reached their depot two days later.However, they had great difficulty navigating down the glacier. Lashly wrote: "I cannot describe the maze we got into and the hairbreadth escapes we have had to pass through."In his attempts to find the way down, Evans removed his goggles and subsequently suffered agonies of snow blindness that made him into a passenger. When the party was finally free of the glacier and on the level surface of the Barrier, Evans began to display the first symptoms of scurvy. By early February he was in great pain, his joints were swollen and discoloured, and he was passing blood. Through the efforts of Crean and Lashly the group struggled towards One Ton Depot, which they reached on 11 February. At this point Evans collapsed; Crean thought he had died and, according to Evans's account, "his hot tears fell on my face". With over 100 statute miles (160 km) still to travel before the relative safety of Hut Point, Crean and Lashly began hauling Evans on the sledge, "eking out his life with the last few drops of brandy that they still had with them".On 18 February they arrived at Corner Camp, still 35 statute miles (56 km) from Hut Point, with only one or two days' food rations left and still four or five days' man-hauling to do. They then decided that Crean should go on alone, to fetch help. With only a little chocolate and three biscuits to sustain him, without a tent or survival equipment,Crean walked the distance to Hut Point in 18 hours, arriving in a state of collapse to find Atkinson there, with the dog driver Dmtri Gerov. Crean reached safety just ahead of a fierce blizzard, which probably would have killed him, and which delayed the rescue party by a day and a half.Atkinson led a successful rescue, and Lashly and Evans were both brought to base camp alive. Crean modestly played down the significance of his feat of endurance. In a rare written account, he wrote in a letter: "So it fell to my lot to do the 30 miles for help, and only a couple of biscuits and a stick of chocolate to do it. Well, sir, I was very weak when I reached the hut." Scott's party failed to return. The winter of 1912 at Cape Evans was a sombre one, with the knowledge that the polar party had undoubtedly perished. Frank Debenhamwrote that "in the winter it was once again Crean who was the mainstay for cheerfulness in the now depleted mess deck part of the hut." In November 1912, Crean was one of the 11-man search party that found the remains of the polar party. On 12 November they spotted a cairn of snow, which proved to be a tent against which the drift had piled up. It contained the bodies of Scott, Wilson, and Bowers.Crean later wrote, referring to Scott in understated fashion, that he had "lost a good friend". On 12 February 1913 Crean and the remaining crew of the Terra Nova arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand, and in June the ship returned to Cardiff.At Buckingham Palace the surviving members of the expedition were awarded Polar Medals by King George and Prince Louis of Battenberg, the First Sea Lord.Crean and Lashly were both awarded the Albert Medal, 2nd Class for saving Evans's life, these were presented by the King at Buckingham Palace on 26 July 1913. Crean was promoted to the rank of chief petty officer, retroactive to 9 September 1910.

    Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (Endurance Expedition), 1914–1917

    A group of men on board a ship, identified by a caption as "The Weddell Sea Party". They are dressed in various fashions, mostly with jerseys and peaked or other hats. The rough sea in the background suggests they are sailing into stormy weather.
    Members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard Endurance, 1914. Crean is second from the left in the first standing row. Shackleton (wearing soft hat) is in the centre of the picture.
    In October 1913, a close friend of Captain Scott, Joseph Foster Stackhouse, announced plans for a British Antarctic Expedition with a mission to explore the uncharted coastlines between King Edward VII Land and Graham Land. The expedition was due to depart England in August 1914 aboard RRS Discovery, the ship of Crean’s first mission to Antarctica. In February 1914, Stackhouse confirmed that Crean was to join the expedition as Boatswain, however, in April 1914, Stackhouse’s plans were postponed. This left Shackleton free to recruit Crean to his expedition which was also scheduled to depart in August 1914. Shackleton knew Crean well from the Discovery Expedition, and also knew of his exploits on Scott's last expedition. Like Scott, Shackleton trusted Crean:he was worth, in Shackleton's own word, "trumps".Crean joined Shackleton's Imperial Transantarctic Expedition on 25 May 1914, as second officer, with a varied range of duties. In the absence of a Canadian dog-handling expert who was hired but never appeared, Crean took charge of one of the dog-handling teams,and was later involved in the care and nurture of the pups born to one of his dogs, Sally, early in the expedition. On 19 January 1915 the expedition's ship, the Endurance, was beset in the Weddell Sea pack ice. In the early efforts to free her, Crean narrowly escaped being crushed by a sudden movement in the ice. The ship drifted in the ice for months, eventually sinking on 21 November. Shackleton informed the men that they would drag the food, gear, and three lifeboats across the pack ice, to Snow Hill or Robertson Island, 200 statute miles (320 km) away. Because of uneven ice conditions, pressure ridges, and the danger of ice breakup which could separate the men, they soon abandoned this plan: the men pitched camp and decided to wait. They hoped that the clockwise drift of the pack would carry them 400 statute miles (640 km) to Paulet Island where they knew there was a hut with emergency supplies. But the pack ice held firm as it carried the men well past Paulet Island, and did not break up until 9 April. The crew then had to sail and row the three ill-equipped lifeboats through the pack ice to Elephant Island, a trip which lasted five days. Crean and Hubert Hudson, the navigating officer of the Endurance, piloted their lifeboat with Crean effectively in charge as Hudson appeared to have suffered a breakdown.
    Man, standing, wearing a smock, heavy trousers and boots. He has a ski stick in his right hand, a pair of skis strapped on his back, and is carrying a rounded bundle on his shoulder. Behind him on the ground is assorted polar equipment.
    Tom Crean, in full polar travelling gear
    Upon reaching Elephant Island, Crean was one of the "four fittest men" detailed by Shackleton to find a safe camping-ground.Shackleton decided that, rather than waiting for a rescue ship that would probably never arrive, one of the lifeboats should be strengthened so that a crew could sail it to South Georgia and arrange a rescue. After the party was settled on a penguin rookeryabove the high-water mark, a group of men led by ship's carpenter Harry McNish began modifying one of the lifeboats—the James Caird—in preparation for this journey, which Shackleton would lead. Frank Wild, who would be in command of the party remaining on Elephant Island, wanted the dependable Crean to stay with him;Shackleton initially agreed, but changed his mind after Crean begged to be included in the boat's crew of six. The 800-nautical-mile (1,500 km) boat journey to South Georgia, described by polar historian Caroline Alexander as one of the most extraordinary feats of seamanship and navigation in recorded history, took 17 days through gales and snow squalls, in seas which the navigator, Frank Worsley, described as a "mountainous westerly swell".After setting off on 24 April 1916 with just the barest navigational equipment, they reached South Georgia on 10 May 1916. Shackleton, in his later account of the journey, recalled Crean's tuneless singing at the tiller: "He always sang when he was steering, and nobody ever discovered what the song was ... but somehow it was cheerful".
    Man, sitting, wearing heavy winter clothes. He has a pipe in his mouth and is holding four sled dog puppiess.
    Crean and "his" pups
    The party made its South Georgia landfall on the uninhabited southern coast, having decided that the risk of aiming directly for the whaling stations on the north side was too great; if they missed the island to the north they would be swept out into the Atlantic Ocean.The original plan was to work the James Caird around the coast, but the boat's rudder had broken off after their initial landing, and some of the party were, in Shackleton's view, unfit for further travel. The three fittest men—Shackleton, Crean, and Worsley—were decided to trek 30 statute miles (48 km) across the island's glaciated surface, in a hazardous 36-hour journey to the nearest manned whaling station. This trek was the first recorded crossing of the mountainous island, completed without tents, sleeping bags, or map—their only mountaineering equipment was a carpenter's adze, a length of alpine rope, and screws from the James Caird hammered through their boots to serve as crampons.They arrived at the whaling station at Stromness, tired and dirty, hair long and matted, faces blackened by months of cooking by blubber stoves—"the world's dirtiest men", according to Worsley.They quickly organized a boat to pick up the three on the other side of South Georgia, but thereafter it took Shackleton three months and four attempts by ship to rescue the other 22 men still on Elephant Island.

    Later life

    After returning to Britain in November 1916, Crean resumed naval duties. On 15 December 1916 he was promoted to the rank of warrant officer (as a boatswain), in recognition of his service on the Endurance, and was awarded his third Polar Medal. A month later, in April, he was granted a licence for the sale and consumption of alcohol from his dwelling house, a premises he had purchased in 1916. The business was left in the care of family while he served out his time in the Royal Navy. On 5 September 1917, Crean married Ellen Herlihy of Annascaul. In early 1920, Shackleton was organising another Antarctic expedition, later to be known as the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition. He invited Crean to join him, along with other officers from the Endurance. By this time, however, Crean's second daughter had arrived, and he had plans to open a business following his naval career. He turned down Shackleton's invitation.On his last naval assignment, with HMS Hecla, Crean suffered a bad fall which caused lasting effects to his vision. As a result, he was retired on medical grounds on 24 March 1920. He and Ellen opened a small public house in Annascaul, which he called the South Pole Inn.The couple had three daughters, Mary, Kate, and Eileen, although Kate died when she was four years old. Throughout his life, Crean remained an extremely modest man. When he returned to Kerry, he put all of his medals away and never again spoke about his experiences in the Antarctic. There is no reliable evidence of Crean giving any interviews to the press.Smith speculates that this may have been because Kerry was a hotbed of Irish nationalism and later Irish republicanism, and, along with County Cork, an epicentre of violence.The Crean family were once subject to a Black and Tan raid during the Irish War of Independence. Their inn was ransacked until the raiders happened across Crean's framed photo in Royal Navy dress uniform and medals. They then left his inn.On 13 April 1920, Tom Crean was present among crowds gathered in Tralee to protest against the treatment of republican prisoners who had gone on a hunger strike in Mountjoy jail. Crean's older brother was Cornelius Crean, a sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC).Cornelius was based in County Cork, where he served with the RIC during the War of Independence.Sgt. Crean was killed during an IRA ambush near Upton on 25 April 1920.
    In the foreground is a dark-coloured statue of a man carrying a small dogs.
    Statue of Crean in Annascaul
    In 1938, Crean became ill with a burst appendix. He was taken to the nearest hospital in Tralee, but as no surgeon was available, he was transferred to the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, where his appendix was removed. Because the operation had been delayed, an infection developed, and after a week in the hospital he died on 27 July 1938. He was buried in his family's tomb at the cemetery in Ballynacourty, Corkaguiney, County Kerry.


    • Mount Crean 8,630 feet (2,630 m) in Victoria Land, Antarctica and Mount Crean 2,300 feet (700 m) in Greenland
    • Crean Glacier on South Georgia.
    • Crean Lake on South Georgia.
    • An eight-part 1985 television series, The Last Place on Earth, told the story of Scott's expedition to the South Pole. Hugh Grant and Max von Sydow starred with Irish actor Daragh O'Malley, who portrayed Tom Crean.
    • A one-man play, Tom Crean – Antarctic Explorer, has been widely performed since 2001 by author Aidan Dooley, including a special showing at the South Pole Inn, Annascaul, in October 2001. Present were Crean's daughters, Eileen and Mary, both in their 80s. Apparently he never told them stories of his exploits; according to Eileen: "He put his medals and his sword in a box ... and that was that. He was a very humble man".
    • In July 2003, a bronze statue of Crean was unveiled across from his pub in Annascaul. It depicts him leaning against a crate whilst holding a pair of hiking poles in one hand and two of his beloved sled dog pups in the other.
    • Until its closure in 2017, the Dingle Brewing Company produced 'Tom Crean Lager', named in his honour. In 2016, Crean's granddaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, launched 'Expedition Ale' in partnership with Torc Breweries
    • In February 2021 it was announced that a new research vessel being commissioned by the Irish government’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marinewould be named 'RV Tom Crean', in Crean’s honour.
  • 40cm x 33cm Co Cork  

    Every country has its own slang terms or local colloquialisms and Ireland is no different. Many of the country's famous sayings are well-known worldwide, but there may be one or two you're not familiar with. No doubt you'll be wanting to experience the 'craic' for yourself as you explore your new surroundings, so we've put together this 'bang-on' guide to the local lingo!

    Craic is probably the most popular and familiar slang phrase, simply meaning ‘fun’ or ‘banter’, just good times. It has origins with the Ulster Scots, who told of the crack, the Gaelic spelling not fully popularised in Ireland until the 1970s, when it was the catchphrase of the Irish-language TV show SBB ina Shuí.

    Some other slang phrases might not be quite as familiar, and each region of Ireland has its own particular lingo, but here are some of the weird and wonderful words and phrases that might come in handy, and save you from making an eejit or a gowl of yourself!

    Gowl: An annoying person. Ah, ye GOW-EL ye!

    Wisht: Shush! A handy one for in the cinema, or for chatterboxes in lectures.

    Scarlet: Embarrassed. Hopefully not because you’ve been a gowl. I was such an eejit, I was scarlet!

    Wired to the moon: Maybe you’ve been out late, enjoying the craic a little too much, and you’ve grabbed a triple espresso on the way to the lecture theatre? You’re wired to the moon.

    Wee: Small, but everything in Ireland is wee. If Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson were to visit Ireland, he’d be Wee Dwayne.

    Quare: Meaning ‘great’. It’s quare weather out today! Also used for ‘very’. It’s quare warm today!

    Savage: Something excellent. Was it a good craic last night? Oh, it was savage!

    The Jacks: The toilets, fir jacks for the mens, ban jacks for the ladies, not to be confused with…

    Banjaxed: Broken. Ruined.

    Happy out: Simply happy. You’re enjoying the craic, having a quare old time, you’re happy out.

    Sure look at it: A suitable reply to nearly any statement. Isn’t this weather grand? Ah, sure look at it!

    Ossified: Very drunk. Regretfully so. See also: langers, blathered, locked.

    The messages: If you hear people referring to doing the messages, they're going shopping. Does anyone need anything? I’m heading out to do the messages.

    The press: An Irish term for the cupboard. You might want to check you’ve enough biscuits in the press, before you set off to do the messages.

    Are you okay?: If the barman is asking you this, he’s not checking on your state of being, simply wanting to know what you want to order.

    I’ve a throat on me: Thirsty. Just don’t get too ossified and make an eejit of yourself!

    Me ould segotia, me ould sweat, me ould flower: Best friend.

    Aculsha: An old term of affection, from a chuisle mo chroí, ‘pulse of my heart’

    A soft day: A drizzly rainy, misty day.

    Acting the maggot: Being silly, making a nuisance. An annoying person.

    Making a bags of it: Making a mess of something.

    Cat altogether: Something bad. If the weather is terrible, it could be cat altogether out there.

    Even if you’re apprehensive about using some of these phrases in your conversations, it’ll certainly help you understand what your new Irish friends are saying. Ah, it was quare warm yesterday, I’d meant to do the messages, but I’d quite the throat on me. I got utterly langers, made a right gowl of meself acting the maggot, and I’m totally banjaxed today. Savage!  
  • 47cm x 34cm In the relative cool of the Limerick dressing-room, cramped and pokey as it was beneath the Mackey Stand, Ger Loughnane addressed the victors. It was, the vanquished Clare manager told them, "the kind of game we hear about from our fathers and grandfathers" - adding that in all his time in hurling he had never been involved in anything like it. In the corner was Ciarán Carey, fresh from his wondrous individual point that had decided the game - it still remains one of hurling's greatest scores - parked on a slatted bench, pulling on a cigarette. The protein shakes were still a few years off. Loughnane would go on to savour many more tumultuous, spine-tingling days on the sideline with Clare, some of a higher standard than that particular scorching Sunday afternoon. For all the latest sports news, analysis and updates direct to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter. But that 1996 Munster semi-final was, as Anthony Daly put it in his autobiography many years later, "a day of days" - the most memorable game he had played in. Two things stood out on the way to the Gaelic Grounds that day - the heat and the crowds swarming on the Ennis Road, the tar squelching beneath each and every one. As far as the eye could see down both sides were people walking through a heat haze, so many white shirts peppered between green and saffron and blue. How, you thought, could anyone hurl in the conditions in little over an hour's time?
    Soaring The soaring mercury reflected the atmosphere between the teams and their people at that time. Clare were Munster and All-Ireland champions, Limerick their provincial predecessors as the counties found themselves displacing Cork and Tipperary as protagonists in the south throughout the middle of the decade. At the time, they didn't particularly like each other, Loughnane even admitting that when Limerick subsequently lost the All-Ireland final that September he wasn't sorry. Limerick manager Tom Ryan hadn't been happy about elements of Clare's approach in the previous year's Munster final, suggesting at the time that they had been "timbered". Prior to the game Loughnane had held up a Clare jersey, claiming to his players that Limerick had somehow disrespected it in the build-up. It all created a spiky edge that was prevalent around the ground that day.
    Maybe the tense atmosphere masked the quality of the play. Looking back now, it was quite turgid and error-strewn but still, it's what you feel at the time - and at that time every jarring collision and every loose ball felt like a life depended on it. At one stage near the end, Mike Houlihan swung wildly, catching Ollie Baker and his own colleague Carey in the same movement. It was the last year before the first hurling 'back door' was introduced and the threat of potential summer extinction was palpable. Clare didn't play particularly well but for 43 of the 70 or so minutes they were ahead, 27 of those minutes in the second half. They looked to have done enough to build a three-point lead as the game closed but then it loosened somewhat, allowing Limerick to steal in for three quick-fire points, from Barry Foley (two) and Gary Kirby before Carey's tour de force. "The four most agonising seconds of my life," recalled Daly in a crestfallen Clare dressing-room afterwards. "The last man you would want to see coming up the field with a ball like that." Carey, then playing at midfield, had caught Davy Fitzgerald's puck-out after Foley's point and saw the space in front of him open up. Time seemed to stand still as he pressed on the accelerator. Clare legs looked like they were wading through treacle. "I was in a position then to say 'yeah, OK, we might have a crack here'," Carey would recall years later. "There was someone on my tail (Fergal Hegarty) all the time. I didn't know who it was. I just dropped the shoulder to the left, jinked to the right, and put it over on the bad side. "The connection didn't have to be great, because I was only 25 yards out. "And if I couldn't put the ball over the bar, off left or right, from that distance with an inter-county jersey on me there is something wrong. I was surprised it opened up, as it did, after such a tight game." |Brian Lohan cut an imperious figure throughout and when the All-Stars were being totted up later that year his performance that day, his only one of the championship, rightly earned him a second successive award. Strength On the Carey point, Lohan always felt he should have gone to meet him though. "With the heat, if you had said if a fella gets a ball on his own 45 and takes off, if he gets to 25 metres out, he'll be doing awful well to have the strength to hit the ball over the bar, given what had gone in the previous 73 minutes," says Lohan. It was an iconic score, you have to say." Good enough to crown any game, really. This is the final part of our series where we asked our writers to detail the one sporting occasion that stands out from all the rest and why it still means so much to them
  • 40cm x 34cm July 19, 1972, Muhammad Ali fought Al 'Blue' Lewis at Croke Park in Dublin, causing quite a stir in Ireland.Decades later, an Irish documentary recounting the epic fight not only won awards but also won the approval of Ali's daughter Jamilah Ali. "When Ali Came to Ireland" is an Irish documentary that details Muhammad Ali's trip to Dublin for a fight against Al 'Blue' Lewis at Croke Park. In 2013 the film was screened at the Chicago film festival, where Jamilah Ali was in attendance. TheJournal.ie reported that following the screening, Jamilah said "I've seen so much footage of my father over the years but the amazing thing about watching this film was that I had seen none of the footage of him in Ireland... I loved the film from the beginning to the end." The film highlights a moment in Ali's career where he was set to stage a world comeback. He had been recently released from prison after refusing to join the Vietnam War as a conscientious objector. His opponent Al Lewis had also just been released on parole after serving time in Detroit for a murder charge, and he intended to use his boxing career as "a path to a new life." The movie that won an IFTA in 2013 documents the spectacle in Croke Park, Ali's presence in Ireland and how the public reacted to his being there. It also demonstrates how Ali came to be in Dublin for a fight in the first place, highlighting the involvement of "former Kerry strongman"Michael  "Butty" Sugrue. Sugrue's story also proved to be revelatory to his family- in a quote from Ross Whittaker, co-director of the film, he speaks about how Sugrue's grandchildren had never had the chance to meet him. "We were amazed when we screened the film in London to find that Butty Sugrue's granddaughters had never heard their grandfather speak. He had died before they were born and they'd never seen footage of him in which he had spoken." After their 1972 meeting, however, Sugrue and Ali's fortunes took two divergent paths. Ali returned to the ring in America to further glories and fanfare before his retirement, while Sugrue lost a small fortune on the Dublin fight and after dying in London was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in his hometown of Killorglin, Co Kerry. The Louisville Lip was also incredibly proud of his County Clare roots. Today we recall the man's star quality and his Irish ancestry. The death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali at 74 in June 2016, from Parkinson’s, would have brought back many glorious memories of the greatest athlete of our times. At the height of his career, Ali was the most graceful, talented, and brilliant heavyweight boxer who ever stepped inside the ropes.
    I remember seeing him enter the room at the American Ireland Fund dinner in 2011 and grown men, including the Irish leader Enda Kenny, were simply awestruck that they were in the presence of the greatest living legend. Ali was more than a boxer, of course, he was a fighter who refused to become cannon fodder in the Vietnam War, the greatest mistaken war America entered until the invasion of Iraq. He was also a poet, a showman, a lover of many women, a devout Muslim, and simply a legend. Ali's stance to end the Vietnam War when he refused to be drafted cost us the best years of his sporting life. He came back still a brilliant boxer, but the man who could float like a butterfly could never quite recover that greatness. Still, the fights with Joe Frazier, the rope-a-dope that saw him defeat George Foreman in Zaire in the "Rumble in the Jungle" will forever enshrine his name in history.

    Muhammad Ali's Irish roots explained

    The astonishing fact that he had Irish roots, being descended from Abe Grady, an Irishman from Ennis, County Clare, only became known later in life. He returned to Ireland where he had fought and defeated Al “Blue” Lewis in Croke Park in 1972 almost seven years ago in 2009 to help raise money for his non–profit Muhammad Ali Center, a cultural and educational center in Louisville, Kentucky, and other hospices. He was also there to become the first Freeman of the town. The boxing great is no stranger to Irish shores and previously made a famous trip to Ireland in 1972 when he sat down with Cathal O’Shannon of RTE for a fascinating television interview. What’s more, genealogist Antoinette O'Brien discovered that one of Ali’s great-grandfathers emigrated to the United States from County Clare, meaning that the three-time heavyweight world champion joins the likes of President Obama and Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. as prominent African-Americans with Irish heritage.
    In the 1860s, Abe Grady left Ennis in County Clare to start a new life in America.  He would make his home in Kentucky and marry a free African-American woman. The couple started a family, and one of their daughters was Odessa Lee Grady. Odessa met and married Cassius Clay, Sr. and on January 17, 1942, Cassius junior was born. Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he became a Muslim in 1964.   Ali, an Olympic gold medalist at the 1960 games in Rome, has been suffering from Parkinson's for some years but was committed to raising funds for his center During his visit to Clare, he was mobbed by tens of thousands of locals who turned out to meet him and show him the area where his great-grandfather came from.

    Tracing Muhammad Ali's roots back to County Clare

    Historian Dick Eastman had traced Ali’s roots back to Abe Grady the Clare emigrant to Kentucky and the freed slave he married. Eastman wrote: “An 1855 land survey of Ennis, a town in County Clare, Ireland, contains a reference to John Grady, who was renting a house in Turnpike Road in the center of the town. His rent payment was fifteen shillings a month. A few years later, his son Abe Grady immigrated to the United States. He settled in Kentucky."
    Also, around the year 1855, a man and a woman who were both freed slaves, originally from Liberia, purchased land in or around Duck Lick Creek, Logan, Kentucky. The two married, raised a family and farmed the land. These free blacks went by the name, Morehead, the name of white slave owners of the area. Odessa Grady Clay, Cassius Clay's mother, was the great-granddaughter of the freed slave Tom Morehead and of John Grady of Ennis, whose son  Abe had emigrated from Ireland to the United States. She named her son Cassius in honor of a famous Kentucky abolitionist of that time. When he changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964, the famous boxer remarked, "Why should I keep my white slavemaster name visible and my black ancestors invisible, unknown, unhonored?" Ali was not only the greatest sporting figure, but he was also the best-known person in the world at his height, revered from Africa to Asia and all over the world. To the end, he was a battler, shown rare courage fighting Parkinson’s Disease, and surviving far longer than most sufferers from the disease.      
  • 62cm x 62cm approx A real rarity here in the octagonal shape of a vintage Ireland Inland Waterways Cast-iron Sign denoting the river Shannon & Limerick.This most unusual find has been carefully restored and repainted and will make a most suitable exhibit for the most discerning Irish bar with Limerick /River Shannon affiliations.Please contact us directly at irishpubemporium@gmail.com or at 00353 878393200 to discuss.
  • 48cm x 35cm

    It was Richie Connor in the early 1990s who first introduced me to the concept. For the Offaly team he captained, ultimately to the 1982 All-Ireland, beating Dublin in the 1980 Leinster final had he said been their most significant achievement.

    This was because winning the province represented a longer journey from where the team under Eugene McGee had started than the distance from there to the Sam Maguire.

    Maybe the reasoning was slightly different in Clare but it amounted to the same thing. In the few weeks that shimmered in the radiant summer of 1995 between winning Munster and the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway, manager Ger Loughnane was certainly of that view.

    “In Clare, Munster is the Mount Everest. All along Munster was what was talked about. I remember stopping Nenagh on the way back from the League final and a man saying, ‘if only we could win Munster once, it would make up for everything’.

    “The reaction to our winning Munster has been far greater than what would happen in other counties if they won an All-Ireland.”

    Clare had got to the stage where they were being upstaged by their footballers whose first Munster title since 1917 had been sensationally won in 1992 leaving the hurlers by-passed.

    Anthony Daly, prominent in 1995 as the exuberant captain of the hurlers, remembered the big-ball community’s notions. He went to support the footballers in their All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin three years previously. In a bar beforehand he was mocked for band-wagoning.

    “Do you go to our matches at all,” asks Daly.

    “I do, I do,” comes the response.

    “And when you do, does anyone ever tell you to f*** off back to west Clare?”

    Boom, boom.

    Climbed Everest

    Twenty-five years ago today (Thursday) the county hurlers climbed Everest and in unexpected style. Clare had qualified for a third successive Munster final but the previous two, against Limerick and Tipperary had ended in heavy defeats.

    This season would be different. Loughnane’s elevation from selector to manager crystallised the potential that his predecessor Len Gaynor had harnessed to reach Munster finals in 1993 and ‘94. They had taken the lessons of losing to a Zen level.

    I remember seeing Loughnane and his selectors Mike McNamara and Tony Considine sitting in the Queens Hotel in Ennis after a league match with a fairly full-strength Tipperary.

    Clare’s James O’Connor is challenged by Limerick’s Gary Kirby during the 1995 Munster final. Photograph: Tom Honan/Inpho
    Clare’s James O’Connor is challenged by Limerick’s Gary Kirby during the 1995 Munster final. Photograph: Tom Honan/Inpho

    They were super-pleased with the win, one of a number of markers laid down in a season that ended with defeat in the final against Kilkenny after which the manager famously declared that they would win Munster. The approach had been clear: find some new players, get incredibly fit and start beating likely rivals.

    The winter had been a time of slog under McNamara’s fundamentalist training but the late spring with its brightening nights would be a time for sharpening the hurling and adding speed to their playbook.

    “In a way the League final was the best thing that happened us,” said Loughnane after the provincial success. “All the old failings were there. We were too tense: all frenzy, no method. We were going to have to use our heads. If we’d won the League we definitely wouldn’t have won the Munster championship.”

    Limerick were in a valley season between two demoralising All-Ireland final defeats but were raging favourites, having beaten Tipperary while Clare had laboured to get past Cork.

    Clare also had their past, 11 Munster final defeats since the previous win in 1932 and well beaten by Limerick the previous year. The League final defeat a mere two months previously didn’t help the argument that the team had the ability to win big matches.

    As a match it doesn’t look great these days. There are too many errors and too much imprecision in the play. Limerick look lethargic and off-key. They play the first half with the advantage of a strong wind but trail at half-time.

    In a low-scoring, scrappy affair Clare aren’t doing themselves justice either but for a team,who had been trimmed in their previous finals they’re hanging in there for most of the first half. In other words the match isn’t getting away from them, either - which is an improvement on the recent past.

    Davy Fitzgerald

    Goalkeeper Davy Fitzgerald’s expertly hit penalty edges Clare in front and tactically they have taken a grip. Fitzgerald is also excellent in goal producing a couple of saves that prevent Limerick from getting too involved.

    Ollie Baker, of whom a lot had been expected when he was drafted into the team for the league, has a non-stop match, physically overshadowing the powerful Limerick pairing of Mike Houlihan and Seán O’Neill and beside him James O’Connor overcomes a difficult start and is on to everything, fast and fluent.

    His six points include four from play and his only failure of marksmanship is a shot that hits the post late in the match. PJ O’Connell also gets four from play but is selected as MOTM for the job done on disorientating Ciarán Carey with his constant movement.

    Clare captain Anthony Daly with the trophy after his side’s 1995 Munster final win over Limerick. Tom Honan/Inpho
    Clare captain Anthony Daly with the trophy after his side’s 1995 Munster final win over Limerick. Tom Honan/Inpho

    “I knew I had to keep Ciarán Carey away from the puck-outs,” he says afterwards, “so I kept him running around. I had done a lot of work for this and I knew I would not get winded or caught for pace. I just kept running him and I could see it was having an effect.”

    Seán McMahon broke his collarbone in the semi-final against Cork and returns for the final a week earlier than ideal but thrives as Gary Kirby, who had destroyed him a year previously, falters.

    Clare’s grip tightens. Limerick manage just four points in the second half, as the winners pull away steadily.

    Stunning win

    It’s a stunning win - a tribute to Loughnane, who in the years before the acid erosion of controversies and fallings-out is a charismatic leader, whose prescriptions were single-mindedly adopted by the players and embraced by the Clare public.

    “The feeling was that at long last a barrier had been broken,” he said before the All-Ireland semi-final. “The atmosphere in the county was incredible. It was great for the footballers a couple of years ago but they hadn’t been waiting and failing the way the hurlers had for years and years and years. It was very emotional, more because it was so unexpected after Limerick trouncing Clare last year. A good few didn’t even go to Thurles because they were afraid.”

    Clare captain Anthony Daly at the county’s homecoming in 1995. Photograph: Inpho
    Clare captain Anthony Daly at the county’s homecoming in 1995. Photograph: Inpho

    For those few weeks, they are on the cusp of history, something almost spiritual. In the week before the Galway semi-final, Loughnane recounted how he had happened upon a car accident.

    He hurries to check on the elderly motorist, who is shaken but not injured. They are joined by a third man.

    “This other fella is looking at me and says, ‘Ger, isn’t it?’ I said, ‘yes’ and he says to the poor old man: ‘It’s Ger Loughnane! Isn’t that enough to make you better?’”

    A nurse arrives with the ambulance and pauses to comment.

    “I hope everything’s right for Sunday.”

    Need she have asked in that summer of summers?

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