Commins Calling - Feb 14, 2007

People and Places
Teresa Higgins-Warde won the Claremorris Ladies GAA Club Hall of Fame award
CELEBRATION Teresa Higgins-Warde won the Claremorris Ladies GAA Club Hall of Fame award at the recent club dinner dance in the McWilliam Park Hotel. She is pictured with her mother Sal Higgins and family members Pat, Michael and Martin Higgins, Bernie Preston and Noel Higgins. Pic: Trish Forde

A proud night for Teresa

WHEN Teresa Higgins-Warde, Charlestown and Claremorris, came forward to accept the Claremorris Ladies GAA Club Hall of Fame award at the recent club dinner dance in the McWilliam Park Hotel, she was creating her own piece of history as the first recipient of such an honour.
Yet, it was not her first time to make history in Mayo GAA circles. Teresa has the unique distinction of being the first Mayo lady ever to captain a Mayo girls football team to All-Ireland honours. That happened back in 1976 when she led Mayo to national honours in the U-16 championship. After some hard games along the way, they easily accounted for Kilkenny in the All Ireland final which was played in Athlone. She was right half-forward on the team.
Teresa was a member of the most successful Claremorris ladies team in the annals of ladies football in Mayo. It was the early days of the code and they were the first winners of a Mayo senior title in 1975. They retained the title again the following year. Twelve clubs were taking part in the championship at the time and around 400 girls were involved in the sport.
A member of a famous Claremorris GAA family, her late father Michael John was a legend in sporting circles in the region. He was one of the great characters of the GAA and loved the intensity of the rivalry with Garrymore which was at its height back in those years.
Her brother Noel captained St Colman’s to their first Connacht Colleges Senior A title in 1970. Her brother Michael, better known as Tick, won All-Ireland minor and U-21 medals with Mayo in 1971 and 1974. Martin was also a stylish footballer and came very close to making the Mayo senior ranks until an injury took its toll and ruled him out of contention. Pat was a member of the St Colman’s team that won the Connacht senior title in 1981 before losing by a point in the All-Ireland final against Carmelite, Moate, after an injury time penalty denied them ultimate glory.
Her sister, Bernie, did not feature on the football fields but was a highly talented swimmer who won numerous awards over the years with Claremorris club. She has also taken part in a number of marathon runs.
It was a proud night for Teresa and her husband Tommy Warde (holder of a number of Mayo senior football medals with his native Knockmore), and their family Alma, Damien and Paul, as well as for her mother Sal (a great favourite in the Claremorris community), her brothers and sister, and the extended family circle.
In some ways, it was a night of nostalgia for Teresa who recalled some of the names of those who played alongside her on the Mayo team and especially her colleagues on the Claremorris team.
Among the Claremorris group were Maura Quinn, Ann O’Brien, Mary Mulroy, Dolores Duggan, Ita Kean, Midi Keane, Marian Cullinane, Breege Murphy, Mary McLoughlin, Joan Gibney, Patricia Skelly, Ann Marie Kilcooley, Laurina Burke and Maeve Skelly, to name but a few.
Teresa delivered a lovely speech, beautifully capturing the mood of the occasion and touching a chord in the hearts of so many. She recalled the values instilled in the family by her mother Sal and her late father Michael John and said materialistic things were never a priority in their lives. Their sense of values lay elsewhere. She spoke of the most important thing her parents gave to the family … their time. Those values had stayed with them through life.
A message of congratulations was read from Mary Davis, who was CEO of the Special Olympics World Games hosted by Ireland in 2003. Mary, a native of Kinaffe, Kiltimagh, referred to her delight at hearing about the honour being bestowed on Teresa. She thanked her for her great commitment to the Special Olympics and her ongoing interest in so many aspects of the organisation. Teresa is also very actively involved with Western Care.
Ann Morley from the Claremorris Ladies Club joined in the tributes to Teresa who was also presented with a bouquet of flowers. It was my own special privilege to introduce Teresa to the 300-plus crowd and to join in the tributes to a member of a very special Claremorris family.
Well done, Teresa, on yet another class performance.

Frank Baynes says hello
WE had a lovely email during the week from Frank Baynes over there in England. Frank, who is an accomplished musician and who has played at venues up and down England over the years, writes in connection with my feature article two weeks ago about my climb of the Reek some days earlier.
Frank, who receives a copy of The Mayo News each week compliments of his good friend Lennie Grimes, says it is a wonderful experience to climb the Reek and especially rewarding if it is a clear day.
“I enjoyed your piece on the Reek and have felt like that even in my younger days, when I lived in the village of Derrymore near Drummin, just the other side of those lakes on the south side that you mentioned in your article,” writes Frank. “The name of that lake is Loch na Curragh and there is another lake a little further south called Loughan Yeallow. Those may not be the correct spellings but it’s the way we always pronounced them and we were then able to do the spellings in Irish.
“From the age of nine until my late teens, I helped my uncle Pat Baynes and my cousin Eddie from Durless. They always had two tents on the Reek for the last Sunday in July, selling drinks, tea and sandwiches.
“For the whole week leading up to Reek Sunday, we would climb to the top two, three, or sometimes four times a day carrying up and erecting the tents, then carrying the water and all the other bits getting ready for the big day. We also used the donkeys wherever we could so climbing the Reek for me in those days was like walking down to the beach in Portugal now. I hope to see you in Ibiza in April.”
Many thanks, Frank, for your correspondence and looking forward to seeing ye all on the Mediterranean shores.

Kildare goes country in style
A MAJOR night of country music will be held in the Setanta House Hotel in Celbridge, Co Kildare on Monday night week, February 26. The music and awards show, which includes dinner, is in support of Barretstown Camp for seriously ill children.
Among those already confirmed for the show are Paddy O’Brien, Tony Stevens, Arlene Bailey from Nashville, Thomas Maguire and Fhiona Ennis, Leanne and Carrie Benn, Baton Rouge, Patsy Watchorn, Chuck Owens and June, Ray Murtagh, The Duets, Aiden Quinn, Mary Darcy, Johnny Ward and Shaun Loughrey. The backing band for the night will be Matt Leavy and Old Stagecoach while the compere is Gary Gamble. Further details can be had from Carmel Aspell at 086 8942998 or Maureen Ward at 087 2480348.

Bonnie Scotland comes a callin’
DANCERS and music followers from this region and other parts of Ireland and England are making plans to travel to Scotland for a five-day vacation in September. The venture is already generating a lot of interest in the Mayo region and several people have already booked for the Scottish trip.
The Enjoy Travel Company, operated by Mayo native Gerry Flynn and his family, are organising the music and dance break from September 6 to 11. It will include two nights in Edinburgh and the remainder at the Aveiemore Highland Resort and will feature ceili and set dancing and Country and Irish music.
Mick Kelly from Newport says there has been an excellent response to the Scottish trip and a coach from Mayo is already nearly booked out. All the details can be had from Mick Kelly at 087 9551087 or Mary Kelly at 098 41530.

Ready to answer the call
FOR a time in Knockcroghery last Saturday week, I had visions of donning the Mayo senior jersey and firing home the winning score in the closing minutes! It was one of those days when the Mayo senior hurling squad was, through injuries and other commitments, seriously depleted and could just manage the bare 15.
Along the sideline, manager Martin Brennan was keeping a close watch on things as his side took on Roscommon in the Connacht Hurling League Plate Final. Martin knew well that, if all went to all, and some players had to come off injured, he would have to throw on the jersey himself. But what if more than one player was injured? The only other two available for ‘duty’ were Johnny Hopkins from Cong and myself.
Would we let the side down in such circumstances? Of course, not!
Days spent in training with the Colt junior team down in Laois came flooding back. Back then, it was usually the No 7 blue and gold jersey that Johnny Hearns (God rest him) would hand me as we prepared to do battle against Ballacolla or Ballyfin or Ballypickas and such teams. The standard mightn’t have been great but sure we enjoyed every game and the friends and the memories have lasted down the years.
Anyway, there I was in Knockcroghery, poised for my senior inter-county debut, and a story to tell the folks back home in the times ahead. Could I reach through the hurleys (hurls) and grab the ball like Tony Doran of Wexford in days of yore, swivel, and bury the ball in the Roscommon net. Or would I flight over a nicely placed pass from Paddy Barrett at midfield to seal the deal. Or maybe Stephen Coyne might feel some sympathy for me and lay on the kind of pass that I would have little trouble in dealing with and with no Roscommon player bearing down on me.
But as the game reached half-time and with no injuries to report, and with the news that panel member Kevin Healy was nearing Knockcroghery (the cow had calved by then!), my dream of making my county debut began to fade. The Mayo lads, with new star Kevin Murphy on board, did the business as the second half wore on, and a late point from Derek McConn saw them edge the narrowest of wins over the Rossies.
Still, if the ultimate emergency scenario had presented itself, manager Martin Brennan knew that Hopkins and myself were ready to answer the call. What more could we do in the circumstances!

Kevin honoured with Pride of Ireland award
FORMER Mayo Person of the Year, Kevin Bourke, has been honoured with an Irish Post Pride of Ireland award. He was one of six recipients of the coveted awards at a dinner dance and presentation night in the McDonald Burlington Hotel in Birmingham on Saturday night.
This was a very special night for the man from Ballyvary, who was the first person outside England to receive this award. It was made in appreciation of his voluntary work in various fields of activities going back over 30 years.
The award recognised his commitment to the Irish emigrants in Britain, his work for the homeless and also for those in the field of disability, organising holidays for various groups, and his association with the Queen Alexander School for the Blind in Birmingham.
On a number of occasions, Kevin accompanied the annual Birmingham diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes as a helper. He was instrumental in getting the Irish Rehab involved in the opening of the Teach na hÉireann Centre in Coventry, which now has around 250 accessing it every week, and which plays a central role in the community life of those people.
Kevin has also worked alongside the Luton Irish Forum and, in former times, was closely associated with the late Tony Lavelle and Jimmy Watters and the Castlebar and District Association in London as well as with Gerry and Noreen Cunnane and the Castlebar Association in Birmingham. He has also worked on several other ventures which have connections with both sides of the Irish Sea.
At the big night in Birmingham, organised in association with the Irish Post, Kevin received warm applause from the large gathering after his acceptance speech. He said his interest in all matters relating to the Irish in England went back to the years he spent in Birmingham and the friends he made in those times.
Comhgairdeacas, Kevin.

Matt McLaughlin says hello from California
A new on-line reader of The Mayo News is Matt McLaughlin in Santa Barbara, California. While reading my piece about climbing the Reek two weeks ago, he was delighted to see that Seamus McLoughlin from Ballyhaunis Road, Claremorris was among those who journeyed up the mountain with us.
“Seamus and his wife Margaret treated me so well when I visited Ireland. Thanks to your new on-line newspaper, I am glad to see him doing so well again. I hope to get back again soon,” is the email message from Matt.

Greetings from Florida
ONE man who is pleased to see us go ‘on-line’ is Msgr John Delaney in Florida. And he is certainly adapting well to advances in technology. In an email to us, he writes: “I got my first live match on my lap-top on Saturday with the Dublin v Tyrone game coming in loud and clear. Croke Park was a great scene under lights.
“The Setanta commentary by Mike Finnerty with analysis by Ray Silke was enjoyable as were the studio comments by Paul Earley. It was also nice to be able to watch the Ireland v Wales game on Sunday.
“Aidan Prendergast and his wife were out from Dublin in Florida for the Superbowl. (Aidan is a native of Ballyglass, Mayo Abbey.) I was up for the Indianapolis Colts on this occasion and they won.
“So you see, I can now sit at my desk all day for the rest of the 2007 season watching GAA, rugby, soccer, as well as the GAA club games for just $150 for the year. No need now to run to Irish pubs for the matches.”
Now there’s a man who is getting ready to take things nice and easy in the year ahead!

Frankie Laine passes away
FRANKIE Laine, a man with a singing career spanning six decades, died last week in San Diego at the age of 93. For many people in America and on this side of the Atlantic, Frankie will always be associated with the song High Noon, the gigantic hit song from the movie of the same name featuring Gary Cooper.
Other songs associated with Frankie were Cool Water, Granada, and Rawhide. His voice is also featured extensively on the soundtrack of the hit film, Blazing Saddles.
In 1985, Frankie recorded an album of country songs under the title, A Country Laine. In 1996, he was presented with a lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th Annual Songwriters Hall Of Fame awards ceremony.
With global sales over 100 million units, Frankie Laine was a true star of stage and screen. He had a powerful voice which was tailor-made for many of the films in which he performed to such acclaim.
Among his most devoted followers in this part of the country was the late Hilda Creaby from Kiltimagh. She thought he was one of the greatest singers of them all and loved to hear his songs featured on Mid West Radio.