The Man Who Saved Kilmurry School !

An Interview with Gerry McNamara

Gerry Mack has been associated with every organisation that tried to improve the quality of life for the people in Kilmurry during the past fifty years. He was particularly interested in the youth of the area, and consequently became deeply involved with the Community Games Committee in conjunction with Paddy Keane, Christy Sheehan, Jimmy Keeffe and P. Donnellon in 1972. He recalls one episode when they organised a bus to take the athletes to Cloughjordan:

“It was the Sunday of the All-Ireland Final. I was County Secretary at the
time. Some people felt it was not worth while travelling. However, we proceeded
to ‘the home of athletics’ and came home with 17 trophies!”

When we were discussing the old school in Kilmurry, he said that a descendant
of John Dinan (the teacher in 1854) was an excellent fiddle player who lived in
a strip of land just across the road from the graveyard. He had come from
Maghera, Tulla. The ruins are there to this day. Another ruin which used to be
there in his young days was the one belonging to the Hannan family near
Hannan’s Cross. He remembers J. McDonnell telling him that he (McDonnell) had
met Paddy Hannan when he came home from Australia on a holiday. Gerry can
remember seeing Mr. Clandillon on many occasions. His grandfather was asked by the priest to fix up the old school house as a dwelling place for Mr. Clandillon.

Gerry remembers that we are lucky to be celebrating the school’s Centenary at
all this year. He continues: “There were four of us on the Parish Council, Pat
Murphy, Tommy Donnellon, James Grace and myself. Fr. Bolton was the Parish
Priest. He had just received a document from the Department of Education which,
if he had signed it, would have meant the closure of Kilmurry school. Each of
us were asked for our opinions. Since T. Donnellon and James Grace had not
attended the school, they more or less left it to Pat Murphy (who also attended
Kilkishen school for a period) and myself. I felt that Kilmurry was a community
in itself — it had a Church, school, graveyard, public house and Post Office. If the school were closed, there would be no sense of special identity in the future generations. All agreed with this argument and the document was never signed. It was a close thing”.

Gerry played many games for Kilmurry and is one of the school team’s supporters
to this day. He remembers the final of the 7 a side played in 1960 or ‘61. This
tournament was organised by Jimmy Mulready and Jimmy Frost in order to get the juveniles of the parish interested in the game. Sean Lynch was asked to get a
team together. Gerry continues: “Sean came to me one Sunday and asked me to go to the Final which was to be held in the Bog Field.
Jimmy “Soda” Murphy was the chief organiser of our team. I think it was the
Limerick Road we were playing. “Soda” wanted to make some changes but I said
not to change a winning team. We had John Joe Murphy in goals. Sean Lynch was
full back and captain. His brother, “Haulie” was corner back. Then there was
Noel Casey and his brother Johnny. The rest of the panel consisted of P.J.
Keane, Michael Keane, Noel Tuohy and Pat McMahon.

The Kilmurry boys were winning and Ml. Connors (who had played for the Village)
was brought in as a sub for the Bridge team but itwas all to no avail. I can
still remember him getting a ball out on the wing but who arrived only Michael
Keane who gave him a “root” and sent him flying! There was great excitement as
Fr. Minogue, C.C. presented the cup to Sean Lynch. Jimmy Frost (Hill Road)
wanted Sean to put up the Cup again and play another match but I said to keep
the cup until next year and then play for it. Ml. Mclnerney met us and he
insisted on bringing us in to where the “Greyhound” bar is now, to treat us.
When we arrived in Kilmurry Christy Farrell treated us and we were warmly
welcomed by people like Mick Neville, Tom Daly, Tom Keogh and others. It would
be nice to have that team together again this year”.

We hope that Gerry’s wish will come to pass sometime this year. We also hope
that Gerry will be around for many years to witness more Kilmurry successes.

Go maire sé an céad!