To see photo's of our St Patrick's Day Parade click on
the line below and click on slide show in top left
They seek HIM
here. They seek HIM there. But where is HE?
stopped for one in the Plaza. We are now behind
schedule and a bit late for the 1.30 meeting time.
Others are there and on time. A few more are scooting in
on my timetable. Doesn’t matter really. It’ll never go
and we are back to the Ross Road for another St
Patrick’s Day Parade. We want this to be a big one.
It’s one of our 125 celebration events. James Lynes, as
usual, has the float in place. A big 125 birthday cake
and a Mad Hatter’s theme around it. What’s this four
kids all dressed up; Harry Potts as the Mad Hatter.
Good choice! Sister Jade as Alice and Fiona Galvin as
another Alice or is it a Princess. Neil O’Shea dressed
in our beloved black and amber from head to toe and a
flag to boot – one of Paddy Bomber’s bloodline for sure.
Hold on wasn’t
there supposed to be two floats. On enquiry I’m told
it’s on the way - not to worry. People are still
streaming down Ross Road to various stands for clubs of
all seed, breed and creed. A myriad of colours and
costumes abound. Some from an epoch long past, others
of a more current variety and yet more from an age yet
to come. The sun breaks through the clouds and lifts
everyone’s spirits. It will be a great parade.
It’s skipping on
for two and still the people come. The large crowd,
that Crokes were looking for this year, are congregating
and swelling by the minute. While a united force for
the parade, one could see the different groupings form.
The boys from the senior team were backed into a
gateway, resting on a wall. And even here the mentors
were on the sideline and the team taking up the centre
and other flank. New aerodynamic haircuts were the
focus of attention, while I was in their midst. What
about league and championship titles boys? Relax – a
time and place for everything. This is parading and
hop-ball time and we’ll concentrate on that now. The
more serious issues arise later in the year and we’ll
focus in on those issues, then. Fair enough. Creidim.
A drove of young
ladies felt that the Mad Hatter’s float needed more kids
on board. Anyway, it is easier than walking the route.
Across the road – the old dogs for the hard road
congregate. Out of the way and not interfering with
traffic flows – human or mechanical. The second float
arrives and slots into place. Der Bros’s merc is
drawing it. But surely I saw Der, resplendent in formal
dress of blazer shirt and club tie, making sure that all
was in order. Surely, Mrs. Bros is not behind the wheel
of the merc. A casual look at the driver’s seat
confirms it’s not Mrs. Bros, as the silhouette doesn’t
match, at all. It’s John Keogh (Yogi). How come he
always gets the plum jobs?
The kids are
getting excited and a little impatient. They should be
getting lined up. But where is HE. HE should be here
by now. I half heard something about the alphabet – a,
b, c, d, e, f, g-g or something like that. Terry is
getting things in shape. The younger kids are lined up
behind the floats; turned out in club colours and with
flags galore to be waving. Some of them wait in great
anticipation - to be launched on their maiden voyage
around the streets of Killarney on St Patrick’s Day.
Others, that have been here before, know the drill.
It’s all about pacing yourself and leaving a bit over
for the reviewing stand.
younger players, the older footballers from the boys and
girls teams line up. The mandatory “I didn’t want to
march this year. I was made come by the Ma and Da” was
in constant recital from this age-group and sometimes
with harmonies. But you always got the sense that this
group were as excited to parade for the black and amber
as were the younger apprentices. However, it might not
be cool to admit this. Anyway, we’re here now. Let’s
have a bit of craic.
For the first
time and well worth mentioning Crokes proudly had a
group of camogie players parading. Not the largest of
groups in the Club for this year’s parade, watch out,
they will grow and grow over the coming years. While
not the largest group, they were most definitely the
prettiest – and they know it. Talk about posers, when
the camera is around. Modelling careers are definitely
on the agenda.
Hurling is now
the theme and our young male hurlers fall in behind
their female counter-parts. A fearsome-looking bunch,
camáns in hand, a few sliotars tapping back and forth.
The confines of a parade are not the natural habitat for
hurlers. Their’s is the expanse of the open field to
flail the sliotar seventy or eighty yards with flick of
the wrists and a shift of body-weight from one side to
the other. Some can’t resist the temptation to let
loose with a quick swish of their ash-plant. Mentor’s
John, Kieran, Mike and Gene quickly quell this
enthusiasm, in case it is the precursor of an epidemic
of swings. The Order of Malta could be called into
Taking up the
rear is a cohort of adult members. This is a varied
group with old and new, both in terms of age and service
to the Club. Murt O’Shea and his good wife Bridie, with
ever-present daughter Sheila on hand, lead out the
posse. Paddy Bomber and sons John and Padraig are to
the fore also in the company of Eamonn Fitzgerald, as
ever “on the ball”. Fr. Paddy keeps step with Niall
Keogh and Mike O’Leary parteners up to Martin Byrnes.
Jimmy Coppinger and Brendan Harnett team up at
mid-field. Jim Connelly and his fair lady are also
among this group and the full-back positions are taken
up by Pat O’Shea and Niall O’Callaghan. Botty tried to
join the young lads from the senior team, earlier. But,
get real. Botty was being selected for over 35
basketball teams nearly fifteen years ago. Young lads
how are you!!!!
The rear group
carefully looked over what was ahead of them, the future
of the Club. Those that would carry on what they had
worked for in the past and continue to work for and
support now. They must have approved, for there were
smiles all round and a sense of contentment, that can
only exist in the world where all is right and all is
The head of the
parade was moving at last. The senior team and mentors
moved to the front – and no Botty. But where was HE?
Surely HE is around somewhere – to get our group “under
orders”? Maybe he was at the other end. I must have
missed him. Meanwhile, out front a new banner was
unfurled, announcing the arrival of Dr Crocaigh and
displaying our three logos – that of the new Clear Air
Boys, the even more youthful 125 logo and the ever
constant and long-serving Club crest. No better men
than Liam Hartnett and Matthew Courtney to carry our
banner. Only one person could go ahead of this. But
where was HE? The white flag was raised. Surely we
were not to have a false start? But, cometh the hour,
cometh the man. Without a moment’s hesitation, the
whole matter was taken in hand. The one and only man
for the job in these circumstances stepped into the
breech. Out front and on his own, the man to lead
Crokes in the St Patrick’s Day Parade in our 125th
year, carrying the Bishop Moynihan Cup aloft, came the
bold Stephen Brosnan. One quick glance over his right
shoulder, a flick of his right hand and the order
“forward march”. Crokes were on the move. Where Stevo
leads, the rest of us will follow; one group, one
community, one desire – the glory of the black and
Cup had also to be shown off. Stephen would never
manage both. Not that he wouldn’t try, but it just
would not be possible. But in true Crokes style, when a
Crokes player is in trouble, support play is on hand.
Two stalwarts in Mark Fitzgerald and Jack Griffin came
out of the pack. And like Simon of Syrus assisted Jesus
on that first Good Friday, the boys were on hand to help
out Stephen on this great St Patrick’s Day. Was this a
preview of the future? I can see these boys supporting
team-mates on future St Patrick’s Days in a different
arena - in the capital. Anyway, today, the senior
silverware was on display for all to see – proudly and
carefully looked after by Stephen, Mark and Jack.
The Crokes train
was just taking off, when from right flank came one of
our J.I.T. (Just In Time) men. Was it HIM, with a late
entry? No. It was Donie O’Leary. And just like in his
playing days, Donie made his run at the perfect moment.
Not a guy to hang around, Donie arrived to do a job,
i.e. march. And when the marching started, Donie was
there and there in spades. He lined up Mike Buckley in
his sights. Mike had obviously previously experienced
Donie’s runs on the playing field and the vision of
Donie making a burst in his direction had to be taken
seriously. I’m not saying that Mike backed off. But,
he certainly readied his body for a test of solidity.
However, Donie came in peace and with a friendly slap on
the back, a smile and a handshake, Mike relaxed and
enjoyed Donie’s company on the afternoon’s march.
The parade took
off up the Ross Road. Like a rider, with a puncture, in
the Tour de France, I allowed the peleton to pass me by
and I arrived at the back of the Crokes marchers. It
was only when our banner swung left on to the Muckross
Road, did I realise the size of the Crokes numbers
marching in the parade. It was magnificent and the
colour was brilliant. We snaked around by the cinema
and up past the Park Hotel at a constant uninterrupted
pace. Obviously, the head of the parade had reached the
review stand and participants were doing their party
pieces. It was a staggered advancement from here on.
The crowds on the roadside cheered on every group and
applauded. This is appreciated by the marchers,
particularly the young ones. Mams and Dads spy their
darlings and call for a smile for the camera. Another
shot for the family album. The various responses from
the darlings varied from delight at recognising a
familiar face in the crowds to embarrassment at being
put on the spot in from of your mates and the response
tended to fluctuate from the former to the latter as the
age profile rose. Such is life. But, regardless of
age, they are still Mam and Dad’s darlings.
We have now
swung by the Friary and into College Street. The crowds
are getting bigger and with every halt in progress,
there is interaction with someone on the sidelines –
friends, ball-hoppers and visitors from home and
abroad. Down Plunket Street and into the “golden mile”
along Main Street. Final organisational check before we
pass the review stand; everyone in line; flags and
balloons flowing in the breeze; floats all in order; Mad
Hatter’s Party in full swing. The colour, the vibrancy,
sound of “we are the boys…” was brilliant. Terry, Áine,
Diarmuid, Der, John and more were guarding the floats.
All sporting those reflective sun-glasses, it was like
Dallas on that fateful November day in Dallas in 1963.
You expected the lads and lasses to talk into their
sleeve at any time. Don’t believe me? Look at the
photo’s. This must mean that HE is here. I still
haven’t seen him all day, even though here we are down
the final furlong, into the home straight.
The group ahead
of us are away up High Street and now it’s our turn.
Our full-forward line, with the cups, lift their game
and bring the Crokes machine into the limelight. Aloft
the ardán, Weeshie Fogarty is announcing our arrival and
relating to the crowd about our 125 years in existence.
Now they are calling for someone to receive a special
presentation on this account. Surely, now, HE will
appear. HE’ll leap a few hurdles to get on stage.
Could it be a gold cup? No, Der Brosnan, our 125
Chairman, is shimmying up the steps. Tá Micheál Ó
Muircheartaigh ina sheasamh agus brontannais aige do
Der. Cúpla focail idir an beirt.
“Nach raibh an
Gala Banquet go h-iontach?”
“Cad é an scór i
bPáirc an Chrocaigh?”
“Níl fhios agam.”
“Beidh sibh ann
an bliain seo chugainn.”
are keen for photo’s. Smiles, handshakes, let’s move
on. A lovely touch by the parade organisers and very
much appreciated. We’ll have to find an appropriate
spot to display it. While all this was going on, a host
of black and amber balloons are released into the
heavens. They soar over Killarney, staying in a tight
group, making their way towards the heights - after all
they are Crokes' balloons.
Fr. Tom having
attended two parades in Daingean Uí Chuais, arrived to
join in with the Killarney parade. He might be,
unavoidably, a little late, but he was definitely going
to be there to support his beloved Crokes. This is
the commitment that earned him Clubman of the Year.
He joined in with Fr Paddy and we had clerical section
to our group.
On up High
Street and like reaching the summit of Alpe d’Huez, the
crowd are closing in, tighter and tighter and only clear
an avenue just in time to allow us through. Those J.I.T.
men again. A final run into High Street car park and
although the parade is over for another year, the
excitement rises in the younger marchers. An air of
anticipation rises. It’s not over. It’s just
beginning. The Events Committee has done it again.
Even in these times of austerity, the Events Committee
produce the goodies, drinks, crisps and bars for every
kid and not a few adults too. It was deserved.
The second float
was now centre stage. It was a collage of Crokes people
past and present – Dr Croke himself, along side ‘Small
Jer’ O’Leary, Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan, Dick Fitzgerald.
More recent players like Seanie O’Shea and brother Pat,
Connie Murphy and the great Jackie Looney. The current
Crokes greats were also represented with Eoin Brosnan
and Colm Cooper. Colm also featured in a life-size
poster, inviting everyone to join his Club and make
history with Dr Crokes. All-in-all a great show-case
up to have their photo taken holding the Bishop Moynihan
and O’Donoghue Cups and with the many faces of Crokes
greats as a backfall. Young and old gathered round this
float for a group photo. Surely, now HE will appear.
We are all together. HE couldn’t miss this
They seek HIM
here. They seek HIM there. But where is HE?
A Hurler on
PS News just in. The Killer O'Callaghan Award for the
best sporting organisation in the parade went to... ...
Yes you've guessed it. DR CROKES