Off the fence
I THINK the bus was in Tarmonbarry when I began to fully grasp the significance of Ray Moylette’s victory at the European Boxing Championships in Turkey. Peter Mullen, President of St Anne’s Boxing Club, announced that the European senior gold medal worn by the Islandeady man would be the first to go across the River Shannon.
“He should walk across!” somebody shouted. That wasn’t Peter Mullen’s plan, but as he counted down towards the bridge – “Ten, nine, eight …” – a chorus of ‘STOP!’ rang out, and the 64kg champion got out, followed by family and friends.
That walk only took a short time, but it contained a great mix of the profound and fun that was the hallmark of Ray Moylette’s homecoming last Saturday. A shout of “Raymond, we promise we won’t drive off!” was followed by a chorus of ‘Olé Olé Olé Olé’ – which quickly turned into ‘Oh Ray’ as passing cars beeped their horns.
“Are you tweeting this?” Ray’s sister Sheila asked me, having spotted that my phone was on note-taking overtime (my biro having been left in Rathowen). I wasn’t, but if ever a bus journey deserved a Twitter audience, it was this one.
A lot of my most interesting experiences have come on buses, but I don’t think I ever enjoyed a trip quite like last Saturday’s spin from Dublin Airport to Westport. As we got back on board, driver Darren Cawley delivered the killer punchline: “Cawley Buses – the only bus company that makes you WALK part of the way!”
As well as much laughter, there were tears of joy: at the airport, where family and club members were reunited with the man of the moment; in Frenchpark, where 1974 Irish champion Eddie McDonnell runs The Sideline bar; in Castlebar, where sponsor Rocky Moran was ready with champagne; and, of course, in Islandeady and Westport.
Ray’s brother Richard – now domiciled in Sydney – had flown in the day before. “Three and a half years in Australia … never a day like this!” he mused. Richie sang The Byroad To Glenroe before serenading his father with The Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, John having politely declined the prospect of a duet. Richie is a teacher by profession, but is a born storyteller-cum-comedian.
Comic timing is a gift possessed by many of the passengers on that bus. Paul Mullen threatened to emulate Ray Moylette’s victory handstand as a final photograph was being arranged in Dublin Airport. Peter Mullen joked: “We’ll be signing books in Easons at half four!” And then Ray’s brother Brendan took the microphone, saying: “I only know one song, and I think it suits the mood”. He then launched into Silent Night, before changing tack to deliver his real party piece.
“Making memories, that’s what it’s all about,” Martin Brennan said shortly after that walk over the Shannon. Even for this professional gate-crasher, last Saturday’s homecoming produced enough of those to last a lifetime. To have a ringside seat at it was a rare privilege.
Elsewhere on mayonews.ie
Ray Moylette – hero comes home
Moylette sets his sights on Olympic gold
Moylette family ‘proud as punch’ of champion boxer