Martin’s magical childhood

MARTIN O’Shea was born and educated in Kilmoganny.

MARTIN O’Shea was born and educated in Kilmoganny.

He is one of the ‘lead’ actors with the excellent ‘Shrugawadda Players’ - a Theatrical Group whose base is in that village.

Many notable successes for these thespians include ‘Big Maggie’ and ‘Many young men of Twenty’ - in both of which Martin played a prominent part. The Shrugga are ‘hot’ on the work of the great JB - {surname unknown – to at least three people - in Antarctica!}

Martin has also won numerous singing competitions.

His uncle, Tommy O’Shea, another fine performer, passed away recently.

Since Martin and his siblings were left alone due to their parents early demise – Tommy took care of them, in some style.

Martin O’Shea remembers, and tells me about, a very happy day as a young lad.

“I remember when I was about thirteen going to a hurling match in Nowlan Park with my Uncle Tommy, who took me to a lot of games in those young days, and along into my adult years.

Kilkenny were playing Tipp that day, and a man by the name of Jim Burke brought us in to Kilkenny, in his old Volkswagen. It was a big day out for me – and we hoped for a win.

It was a ‘bright, bright sunshiny day’ – as the song goes. We hoped the good weather would help our lads defeat the hated enemy from over the border – them oul blue and gold divils!

The Volksie was a venerable machine, its colourful history – and coachwork - studded and decorated with the scars and dunts of many excursions to the Creamery, to multitudes of Singing Pubs - and a thousand delightful fumey clatterings to every hurling pitch in the country.

“I sat in the back amongst hairy bacon of a certain vintage, and Jims working Wellies” said Martin, “but did I notice any unacceptable aromas? Not a bit of it! I couldn’t have been happier! Chanel Number 5 would have been completely out of place, anyway - and a distraction from thinking about the match. Also, I was enjoying Jim’s unerring piloting of his trusty {take off one of them ‘t’s there, surr!} machine.

“We flew along through the garden suburb of Rogerstown, and up the Long Road at a completely reckless 30mph; “Slow down for this bend, Jim” yelled Tommy, which saw Jim do a ‘racing change-down’, and we scraped round at a still-crazy 15mph – but tragedy lurked – for we careered into a flock of chickens who had – as the saying goes – ‘crossed the road.’ One of those good dacent pullets never made the return trip – being reduced to bris and flying feathers by our mighty German Wagon! “Tear on, McGurk!” roared Tommy, in a terrible fear that an autopsy would make us late for the throw-in - and we three early hit-and-run merchants hurtled on implacably towards our B&A festooned City.

“Bejaysus” cried Jim, “Thim hins do be fierce eejits,” as he wrestled his bucking howling chariot round the next turn at an insane careering 24mph. Then – “I’ve got her under control again, boys – we’re on our way!” – and on we sped.

Jim Burke always had a firm belief that Tipp ‘had thim bloomin’ fairies on their side whenever they played Kilkenny - that they collected a few’ve thim little magic joxers from up Slievenamon direction, on their way down.’

“Sure, The Mountain of the Fairy Woman – what else do you expect, boy? Don’t they Tipp lads own the blinkin’ thing? Begor, they can order up them Little People by the score,” Jim assured me, deadly serious, as we bowled along.

“Well, that day everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Kilkenny, and everything that could go right went Tipp’s way. ‘Oh, Jaysus, they have the whole bloomin’ fairy family out there today, all right’ moaned Jim, many times throughout the doomy gloomy match.

As we left Nowlan Park, we came out onto the Dublin Road. And there, on the footpath, was standing a tiny wee adult fella, with Tipperary colours stuck on his dinky little cap.

I got a tap on the shoulder from Jim, and he said, with a glassy stare: “Didn’t I tell you, chappie? The ‘wee people’ were with Tipp again today! Sure, look at that little buck – with him puttin’ the mee’aw on us - how the hell could we win?” And do you know, I was inclined to believe him.

That was one lovely day, with two great characters. Both now gone to their eternal rest.

Tommy taught me everything I know, and supported us all when ‘the chips were down.’

That’s him with me in the pic, with a couple of my cups for singing and acting.

I’ll never hear that great old song about ‘The Seven ‘Oul Ladies Got Stuck in the Lavatory’ without shaking my head, and having a smile – and maybe a few tears too, for the person who devoted most of his life to us. Consequently, he never married.

“Sure” he used to say, “with the ‘Seven oul Ladies’ and ‘The Rose of Mooncoin’ - I’ll never be short of a wan!”

I can still see him there in the pub corner, hair combed into the perfect ‘Alan Ladd’ quiff, dressed like The Lord of the Manor or Beau Brummel, and giving the songs some fair heavy leather.

Good luck, Tommy – you were a rare one.

This is from your loving nephew, Martin.

Another ‘Mystery Profilee’ next week.

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