The parish of Paulstown gathered recently in the cosy Parish Hall to commemorate the memory of a great Paulstown man who passed away, too early, when still on the lower half of the sixties decade, writes Barrie Henriques.
Eamonn Cahill was many things to a great number of Paulstown people in his time, and his legacy to his native place is recorded in work and script for all to see and read.
Talking to many, the word community is laced through the conversations.
Eamonn Cahill, for instance, was one of the founders of the Paulstown Boxing Club back in 1972. He never spared himself in his efforts to enhance the reputation of the club at every turn of the road. During its developing stages, Eamonn was also a tremendous hurler with the Barrow Rangers club, and was a member of the team that beat the John Lockes from Callan in the 1982 junior county final.
His daughter, Clodagh instigated the idea that her dad should be honoured by the club he was so instrumental in founding, a club still doing great work 40 years later.
Produced so many champs
“He founded the club, and I suppose he didn’t think that some day the club would produce so many national champions. There is no doubt that he would never have thought that a lowly boxing club, of little standing at the time, would provide a Captain of an Irish team in an Olympic Games. But I’m sure that he was in Darren’s corner for every punch thrown during the Games,” said Clodagh.
What way did the family feel that the memory of their dad/husband could be best remembered?
Talking to Eamon’s wife, Mary, she told us that the loss was still very emotional for them all.
“It was Clodagh’s idea initially that we should do something to honour Eamon’s memory. So we thought that as Eamonn had passed away so suddenly that we should present a defibrillator to the club in his memory, and a plaque that should hang on the clubroom wall. Surprisingly there is no defibrillator in the club, so we felt as a family that it would be a vital and very important addition to the club’s equipment.”
You must be a very proud lady?
“Yes, indeed I am. It is a sad evening, but I am proud, and always was proud of Eamonn,” said Mary
Eamon was a great man
There was a superb array of sandwiches and confectionary available for the gathered throng. There was no shortage of customers, and there certainly was no shortage of the famed Paulstown welcome and generosity.
It was certainly a case of every hand to the plates, and how people enjoyed the hospitality.
A little after the scheduled time of starting, Ollie O’Neill, his sons, Aidan and Darren arrived from a tournament in Wexford. The club was also competing in the National Stadium at the same time.
We collared Ollie, before more boxing business tsunamied him away.
A few words about Eamon Cahill, and his contribution?
“A top class person,” Ollie insisted. “His contribution to sport around the county is incalculable. He formed the Paulstown club, moved onto Clara and started again there and eventually was at the heart of the Marble City Boxing Club. He also formed a club in St John’s in the city, which has since folded, but he was hugely instrumental in pushing the boxing ethic all over the county.
“He hurled wherever he rested as well, and again made a significant contribution. A marvellous person, and a decent man in every respect, who was taken far, far too early.”
Very close to celebrating your fortieth birthday, you have come a long way over the intermittent time Ollie?
“For sure,” he said. “When Eamonn and the lads started off it was very much a shot in the dark. Many other boxing clubs started since, and some have fallen by the wayside, but through a fierce dedication and a lot of hard work, we are still here, thankfully. Last night at the IABA awards ceremony in Dublin, our Paulstown club took second place in the country in the Order of Merit. So that’s not too bad.
“Then myself, Seamie Dowling and Ross Kehoe from Marble City got out Tutors certificates, and that helps too. There are 12 such Tutors in the country, and we in the Laois/Kilkenny/Carlow area can boast of three. To narrow it down, all three are from the Kilkenny area. So yes, boxing has come a very long way here.”
The families who wore the colours
We lingered for a while in the fado, fado. We spoke of the great boxers that learned the art of swapping leather according to Lord Queensbury in the Paulstown Club.
“There were great family names identified with the club,” Ollie insisted. “ We had Lalors, Hennessys, Murphys, Brennans, Kinsellas, O’Neills and of course Cahills”.
The Lalors could fire leather with the best around?
“For sure,” he smiled. “Ger Lalor was a classy boxer. He won the Irish lightheavy title in 1982, and there was great excitement around at the time. He suffered defeat the previous year when he went down to Steve Collins. The same year I was beaten in the semi-final of the middleweight by Sam Storey, who won the European title a couple of years later.
“Ger was also a very fine hurling half-back. His brother Ben was a great scrapper too. He won a national junior title in 1980, but was beaten by Frank McCullough from Belfast in the senior final of 1981. He turned pro, emigrated to America, where he boxed as a professional. I think he boxed in Madison Square Gardens a couple of times.
“He comes home to Paulstown every year. Mickie Kinsella won the first national title (juvenile) ever won by a Paulstown man, in 1967, although he was attached to the Castlecomer club.”
I had to touch on the Olympics. In your wildest dreams, did you see the Summer of 2012 ever coming across your doorstep , I asked? His son Darren, of course, fought at the Olympic Games in London, and captained the Irish boxing team.
“I have a belief that if you think small, you will never be anything but small,” Ollie smiled in reply. “Purely my own idea. From the time he would toddle down to the hall where I would be training, and he would be doing press-ups and that kind of stuff there was something about Darren. He had tremendous determination, and over the years he became well grounded.
Knew what he wanted
“He eventually knew what he wanted, and made enormous sacrifices to get it. As a father, I dreamt that maybe one day he just might be an Olympian. Thankfully his dream, and mine, were realised when he came down that ramp behind the Tricolour. Words elude me to describe the feelings that flashed through our minds. It was emotional.
“It was very personal for Carmel, myself and the rest of our family. There was no shortage of tears I can tell you, and who could blame us. Even now we have youngsters doing what Darren was doing at their age. We have a fabulous talent in Keith Flavin. At 17-years-old he won the Irish under-23 title last week. He now heads to the World juniors in Armenia in a couple of weeks. A terrific young man, who is a replica of Darren O’Neill in determination, preparation, focus and courage.”
I asked him to mention just a few of the club’s coaches presently.
“We have James Flavin, Keith’s dad, who would do hand stands for our club; James Kealy and James Munnelly are in Dublin as we speak with our junior boxers, where two of them have qualified for the semi-finals; Joe O’Neill is a super trainer, Brian O’Neill (no relation), Mick Coughlan and, of course, Seamie Dowling; Carmel (our secretary) tells me that we have over 100 members in our club. That is not too bad for a little village the size of Paulstown”
You can chalk it down!
They did Eamonn Cahill proud in Paulstown, a little club, from a little village, with an enormous CV.