Cumann Seandalaiochta agus Staire Phort Lairge

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Oral History Template - Get Writing !

     Now that we’re marking the start of a third month of the ‘new normal’ in relation to Covid-19, the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society has devised an Oral History template that Primary Schools or even families would be interested in using as a guide over the coming weeks and months. During the current crisis we have seen numerous creatives inspired to adapt to the current restrictions be it musicians streaming online concerts to virtual football matches becoming a norm as e-Gamers become more and more popular.

     The subject of History has been no different with the Director of Waterford Treasures Eamonn McEneaney regaling the listeners of WLR with the stories of the objects on display in the city’s fantastic museums to the blogs of Waterford Harbour Tides and Tails by Andrew Doherty, while his cousin Jim’s twitter feed highlights stories of piracy and the macabre with dark tales of Ballybricken. History is for everyone; be it stories of grandparents childhoods, the great hurling matches of days-gone-by to the progress of video games; there’s something for everyone.

     So why not be inspired to explore your own historical curiosities and share them with the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society! We’ve provided a short template below that can be used as a guide to get your creative juices going. There are some helpful links as well.
     The best entry will receive a hamper of books which will include The Towns & Villages of the Waterford Greenway produced by Waterford County Museum; Waterford City: A History by Cian Manning and the 2019 edition of the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society journal Decies edited by PeigĂ­ Devlin. Entries can be submitted via the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society Facebook page or e-mailed to

Download details of template:  Oral History Template

Monday, May 11, 2020


A bit of Noughties nostalgia concerning Mount Sion Primary School and the glory days of CLG Port Lairge - Waterford GAA. See if you can spot a young Austin Gleeson.

Poetry Day Waterford
30 April 2020
❤️A short story by Cian Manning ❤️

The ash hurley stands at a length of 32 inches and is around half an inch in thickness. From memory I can’t recall who it was made by or where it was purchased from. No doubt it was bought by my mam to get a few minutes peace from me badgering on about needing a goalie hurley. I played as a corner-back but for some reason I NEEDED this stick with enlarged bas. 
Hurley signed by the Waterford team who defeated Cork in the Munster final in 2004.
It was the first time since 1959 that Na Deise had beaten the Rebels in the provincial decider. 

In 2004 I was around 9 or 10 years of age, the bas seemed enormous in comparison to the crappy spindle of a Lifestyle branded hurley I had in my possession. That latter hurley looked something more of the style used by hurlers of the early 20th century or on the hockey fields of today. It survived though and bears the autograph of the Kilkenny legend Eddie Keher. We happened to be on a Sunday spin with hurleys and tennis balls thrown in the back of our maroon Ford Estate. My brother Olin and myself pitched up to play the All-Ireland final in July in Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny but surprisingly no one turned up. At that young age, this mild-mannered Kilkenny man, then in his early 60s didn’t seem to embody what I considered to be the traits of a hurling great. It wasn’t so much his age or even physical prowess (even in his early 60s Keher was a fit man) but the fact he didn’t wear Puma Kings, he didn’t have a buzzcut hair style nor wore his collar up like John Mullane. I thought hurlers wore their kit ready for a game seven days a week.  Keher’s apparent disappointment in me is consoled by the fact the Rower-Inistioge man holds 6 All-Ireland medals. 

Yet the hurley from 2004 which joined my Eddie Keher-signed stick brings back memories before even being signed by that victorious Waterford team. I can remember playing hurling on Mattie’s Hill with my father. There were two trees at a distance which were the perfect natural posts for Gaelic Games. My new goalie stick (which is really just a normal adult hurley) was put to use. The only problem was I didn’t want to mark it. A slight inconvenience considering the stick was used to save goals. I loved the pure white of the planed ash, the grain appeared to count the many glorious summers where there was never a wet day and the biggest worry was which cartoon to watch first in the morning. That evening in Waterford city with my father I did everything in my power to stop the ball without marking my hurley. I stopped the tennis ball with my head, hands and even dived across the goal and blocked the ball with my ankle. To really illustrate this remarkable (modest I know) athletic feat I resembled Superman flying led by my feet instead of hands outstretched like Christopher Reeves in those movies in the 70s and 80s. If recorded no doubt I would have been the first ten-year old in the history of hurling to be awarded an All-Star in goal without needing a hurley to stop the ball. Mattie’s Hill was and still is quite literally my ‘field of dreams’.
The young hurlers of Cnoc Sion pictured at the Mount Sion Field in the early Noughties. Paraic Fanning (later Waterford senior hurling manager in 2019), John Cleere (who captained the club to Munster Championship glory in 2002) and Eoin Kelly (winner of two All-Star awards for Waterford) are also pictured. 

The former Wexford hurler Diarmuid Lying in his wonderfully evocative TedxWexford talk in 2016 described how in stripping back the hurley in view he saw ‘club and parish…community…our history and heritage…’ My maternal great-grandfather William Murphy was the winner of back-to-back Waterford County titles with the Shamrocks club in 1915-16. His son, my grandfather, Thomas ‘Tunney’ Murphy played for the P.H. Pearse club (which his own father was involved in establishing) winning a number of underage and junior titles. In fact he played alongside Austin Gleeson, the grandfather of the current Waterford star bearing the same name. My cousin Kyle Murphy played with the St. Saviours club and was selected to play for the minor Waterford team which numbered Tony Browne. Kyle was also adept at Gaelic Football winning a county title with his club in 1998. 

Though my father’s side can’t claim as great a success in Gaelic Games as my mother’s, he does however have a very close connection to Croke Park. His father Michael (my grandfather obviously says you) was a successful participant in the All-Army Championships winning the ‘Hop, Step, and Jump’ now known as the ‘Triple Jump’ at Croke Park in 1924. These stories would form my history and heritage associated with the simplistic ash stick. I live near and was educated at Mount Sion schools. A storied hurling nursery and a community which continues to prosper to this day. When I was in primary school there was ‘Yard League Hurling’ the description really explains it all and near the end of the school season, finals were held among each year grouping. I can remember in 4th class winning the final with a number of my classmates. The following year I was on the losing side of a 7-1 score line though I did score our consolation goal. To be frank I was more an adept ‘hurler on the ditch’ than actually good at the game. My brother was always far more talented in sport which seemed to come so naturally to him like rain in the Comeragh Mountains. My ability was more in breaking bones and causing myself numerous injuries. I was the very definition of accident prone.

Those school years were great times for my brother and myself. Between 2002 to 2004 Mount Sion won three county titles in a row. The Monastery Men won a Munster Championship in 2002. It was days of ‘wine and roses’ or to my child-self wine gums and Cadbury’s Roses. The celebration in the school hall of the successes was nearly an annual affair. When Sion were defeated by De La Salle in the 2005 county semi-final I remember the distinct feeling of disbelief that Mount Sion didn’t win. Those years coincided with our communions which in turn were met by Waterford winning Munster titles in 2002 and 2004. Those were joyous summers but were tinged with moments of sadness. I can remember my first time in Semple Stadium Thurles in 2003 seeing Waterford and Limerick playing out an electric 4-13 a piece draw. For some reason I can’t recall why the game wasn’t televised nor was there much of a highlights package ever to be seen. What appeared to be the perfect Sunday for me and my dad was ended with the news my grandmother had broken her hip. Even sadder was that she never returned to her home when she died in early 2007. 

Juvenile Mount Sion players photographed with the Munster Championship trophy.
Waterford captain Ken McGrath and Mount Sion captain Anthony Kirwan are also pictured.
In the back-row are Mount Sion legend Jim Greene and a young Austin Gleeson (third from right). 

Waterford won what is considered the greatest Munster final of all-time against Cork in 2004. It had everything: stunning goals, mammoth points, a red card, David versus Goliath, the history of ‘Blood and Bandages’ versus a tradition of defeat. It was the Empire versus the Jedi, tactics and precision possession versus style and verve. Cork were as clinical and calculated as Waterford were swashbuckling and sparkling. The fourteen men of Waterford won against the 15 men of the Rebel County. Ken McGrath lifted the cup for only the 7th time in our county’s history. And John Mullane cried…we all know the quote at this stage. 

Cnoc Sion Primary School hurling team of 2005. Pictured are Brian Wall, teacher and member of the 2004 Waterford panel; current Mount Sion and Waterford hurler Stephen Roche; former Waterford minor goalkeeper Shane Forristal and Paddy Barrett who currently plays professional soccer in the United States. 

My teacher that September was Brian Wall, who also membered the team, Brian played for the Fourmilewater club and was a brilliant Gaelic footballer too with the Nire and represented his county in that code at senior level. I can recall he bagged a pair of goals against the Kingdom in a challenge match. My mam Miriam was involved with the Parents Council of the school and was able to get Brian to get my hurley signed by the team. My foresight in trying to keep my hurley unblemished would prove to be a masterstroke. The names signed on the hurley of Ken McGrath, Dan Shanahan, Eoin Kelly and Paul Flynn are ones that would still your childish play. Everyone tried to recreate McGrath’s catch or Flynn’s goal. I can remember someone trying to mimic Mullane’s over the shoulder flick in the Mount Sion field only to knock themselves out. Probably best I didn’t remember that person’s name…and no, it wasn’t me! 

The late Sean Dunne described the ‘world of hurling …[as] a seam running through our lives.’ It marks the passing years, connected to momentous occasions in our lives from births to deaths of loved ones, it can create a code of verification in the context of the narrative of one’s life. Waterford won the Munster championship in 2004 when my brother made his communion. The greatest weekend of my life included writing a 4,000-word assignment for my Masters in the space of three days, attending a Hamsandwich concert and staying up to watch Mayweather-Pacquaio and seeing Waterford win the National League the following day. I cried at the end of the match. Was it tears of joy or just delirium from lack of sleep? I don’t know, I just remember it was 2015.

Olin Manning walking in the St. Patrick's Day parade.
Olin currently works as a nurse in Cork.

That hurley from 2004 is one of my most cherished possessions more for what it represents than what it is to one’s eye. I’m still a ‘hurler on the ditch.’ My brother Olin is a nurse who runs marathons and 5ks, cycles and plays basketball. Since the start of this Pandemic that has brought about the creation of this Virtual Antiques Roadshow my brother and all medical professions have displayed the qualities that the Waterford men who signed that stick embodied; courage, hard work and coolness under pressure. Their efforts can not even be quantified by All-Ireland medals, it is a specialness that we can all bear in mind with pride and admiration. To paraphrase Leo Varadkar, not all heroes are hurlers!

The Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society, Ireland.
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