That one small head could carry all he knew."
Dan Keane among friends
Listowel was saddened last night to hear of the passing of Dan Keane, father, grandfather, neighbour and friend, poet, seanchaí, local historian, scholar and selfless community man.
Anyone who spent time in Dan's company came away enlightened. His contribution to Listowel and North Kerry cannot be underestimated. I am grateful that much of his legacy has been committed to print.
As my tribute, I will give you here a ballad that Dan wrote, in his own typical style, extolling a great Clounmacon footballing victory.
Ball, Battle and Bucket
By Dan Keane
The morning sun climbed slowly up
The mid November sky.
Jack Murphy scratched his poll and said:
“ I think the day’ll dry!”
Pat Gleeson came from early Mass
“Be well prepared!” he said,
And Philly stirred the embers up
To toast the captains bread.
Ahern brushed his Sunday pants
And donned his ruby shoes,
And fell in line with those who went
In fours, and threes and twos.
Maig Doyle, she watched the crowds go by-
What memories they brought her-
“God speed!” she uttered o’er and o’er
And shook the holy water.
Tady Buckley traced the cross
Upon his frosted brow.
He blessed the flag he dearly loved
But could not follow now.
He bade them take his old brown hat
(And told what should be done)
And have it lofted towards the sky
In case Clounmacon won.
Men went of dark and silvery heads
And every sort of dame
Forgot to rub her lipstick on
In a rush to see the game.
And meadow patch and bohereen
Poured out their manhood’s fill
And Derry mustered up her troops
Led on by Donal Bill.
And Curly’s oratorial powers
In vivid picture draws
The ebb and flow of many a fight
In theirs and Ireland’s cause.
The clock has passed the noon day hour,
Then fast by Tarbert town-
Clounmacon versus Tarbert
For North Kerry's football crown.
Then lo!! To where the teams line out,
Across the scene sublime
There strode the form of a priest
Serenely and benign.
He clasped the rival captain’s hands
And bade them fight the sod
In a manner well befitting
Their country and their God.
The National hymn and Anthem
Pour forth their solemn notes
And the banner green of Erin
Each flapping-free fold floats.
The whistle’s blown, the ball is thrown,
The rival’s slogans raise
The echoes from their hot blaze.
First Tarbert, deer-like, break away,
The surging chorus swelled,
But, grimly set, our backs defiant
Each raking raid repelled.
“Twas glorious down Clounmacon’s left
The fight flowed fierce and fast,
Where O’Connell’s peerless Paddy
And the mighty Coleman clashed.
The tide of battle turns
And Clounmacon in attack,
Like rocks upon their native shore
Stands every Tarbert back.
“Till last Mick Donal fielding high
He swerves and shoots with speed,
The leather sails above the bar-
Clounmacon takes the lead.
And Elligott on captain Joe
Some daring days recall
And fiercly through the battles wade
They are fighting ball for ball.
Jer Egan’s every effort
Prized the doors of hope ajar
Sails high above the bar.
But faster and more fiercly still
Come Tarbert down the field,
Where Buckley, Lyons and Leahy
Once more refuse to yield.
As wild waves over golden sands
Resistless pressure pour,
So Mulvihill the white flag lifts
For Tarbert’s opening score.
A deadly drive by Costello
Sails past the mid-way line
Where Phelan and Wax Scanlon
In clever work combine.
Mick Donal’s free with deadly aim
Across the bar has sped,
Clounmacon on the half-time blast
Are still two points ahead.
Still grimly through the second half
Doth battle’s red rage run,
Clounmacon fearless force the pace,
Playing into wind and sun.
But Cregan, calm in Tarbert goals
Some deadly drives defied,
As Halpin and Bill Egan
To fell his fortress tried.
With hawklike swoops our forward troops
Dash dauntless to the fray,
Mick Donal scores a brace of points
Then Tarbert break away,
Like fore and flash, upfield they dash
The white flag to unroll,
With might and main they sought, in vain,
To gain the levelling goal.
The rock rim rattled as brave men battled,
And echo ran and ran,
Twas deed for deed and speed for speed
And every man for man.
Twas pace and power for one hard hour
And fortune rocked and reeled,
Men trained and strained of strength were drained
To finish that fierce field.
And gallant Tarbert’s glorious bid,
Like tidal waves to shore,
Down on Clounmacon’s fortress
The tide of battle bore.
But Costello comes charging clean,
Undimmed and undismayed,
Of falcon-fetch and eagle eye
Each long cheered clearance made.
The rock-like Scanlon on his left
Was ever to the fore,
While O’Mahony on his back
A stainless mantle wore,
Pat Kerins roaming restless,
His colours never lowered,
While centre-field on Tarbert’s lines
The living leather poured.
Still fiercely fight their gallant backs,
Like lions brought to bay,
When, hark! Above the tow’ring trees
The thundering echoes roll-
Joe Scanlon grips an Egan ball
To crash a glorious goal.
Ahern danced in ruby shoes,
Din Egan waved his tie,
And Tady Buckley’s old brown hat
Went soaring towards the sky.
“Lord boys, above!” Ned Sheehy cries,
“ I think we can relax!”
Then Ned went for another point-
A black one- in at Macs.
As slowly sinking down to rest
The pallid autumn sun
The ref. blows loud the final blast
The field is fought and won
To gallant Tarbert now we say
Long may each daring deed
Loom rock-like on the shores of fame
Where broken hopes recede.
The stately form of the priest
Once more outfield appears,
And there presents the silver cup
“Midst long full-throated cheers.
The beacon-light of victory
The lit that glorious scene,
Shall long illume each fame-crowned name
Of our Clounmacon team.
We filled the trophy overflowing,
And drank in gladsome glee,
A toast to every heart we love
At home and o’er the sea.
We drained its bosom o’er and o’er,
Then home the captain took it,
His daughter Joan rushed out and cried:
Where did you get the bucket?
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal dílis. Ní fheicfimid a leithéad arís.
A better copy of the young farmers and mentors photo with Paddy Finucane included.
And as for yesterday's boyeens, it looks more likely it's 1948 than 68. It's Mrs Crowley's Senior Infants' Class and it has a few famous scholars in it. Vincent has given me a few leads so I should have names in due course. Maybe a twin who checks in here but is currently in another time zone might help me out or maybe even a neighbour much closer to me might remember the names of his classmates all those years ago.