Boston & New York (2002)

April 2002  

This was the most ambitious of all club trips.  It went off without a hitch thanks mainly to the organisational efforts of Johnny Geary. 

The following is taken from the club notes at the time:
Given the logistics involved in putting together an international tour of this magnitude it is a tribute to the organisers on both sides of the Atlantic that not only did everything go off without a hitch but the trip exceeded all expectations.  Old friendships were renewed and new ones forged.  It was a memorable trip for so many reasons.  The Irish in the U.S. are renowned for their generosity to visitors from home but on this occasion they surpassed themselves - more about that later.
“Are ye with the hurlers who came through yesterday”?
The security man at Shannon was smiling and good humoured as he greeted us.  He had spotted the Tallow club crest on Con’s jacket.  The main group, bound for Boston, had passed through the previous day and obviously made a good impression.  So it was to continue for the duration of the tour.  It was Good Friday and I was travelling with an elite advance party sent into New York to prepare for the teams arrival from Boston next day.  We waited anxiously to board.  With just minutes remaining to take off there was no sign of George.  I’ll come back to this.  Let’s see how they’re getting on in Boston.

The Boston Bash  

Once Mark (still sporting a shiner from the Ballydurn game) and Pa established their bona fides with U.S. immigration officials the outward journey went smoothly.  The in-flight entertainment featured a documentary on “cow comforts” and Finn was engrossed but don’t expect to see the herd up in Moanfune going around in slippers.
Arrival in Boston was made easy thanks to Eoin Barry’s thorough organisation.  A coach was on hand to take the team and supporters to the hotel and was at their disposal during their time in Boston.  The craic was good that night in Eoin’s Pub, Master McGrath, where there was a quiz with a difference going on.  You bet on your answer if you felt confident enough.  It’s amazing how the prospect of losing $20 can sow seeds of doubt.

Friday morning and they tell me they all went sight-seeing, with the exception of the Legend and Dermie who went for their ritual Saturday morning game of golf.  Real Pros these guys (note the subtle change to the vernacular) – Murph even brought his own clubs across the Atlantic.  Those who went on tour got to see some of Boston’s more famous sights including Boston Common, The Frog Pond, set of Cheers, Boston Market and of course The Big Dig where Seany Tobin does his underwater welding.
The game against Tipperary in the afternoon was played at the grounds of the Irish Cultural Centre.  This impressive facility was completed by voluntary labour and is a credit to Boston Gaels like Michael McGrath from Ardmore.  The match itself was evenly contested with teams level at half-time.  In the 2nd half the jet lag and travel weariness set in and the fresher Tipp team edged ahead.  In goals for Tipperary was Clinton Hennessy from Ardmore.  Also lining out against Tallow, and not for the first time, was John Feeley original from Lixnaw.  He played against us in the Munster club championship in 1985.  After the game everybody was invited back to Master McGrath’s for a royal reception laid on by Eoin Barry.  It was a wonderful Tallow reunion.  Among the old friends we met were: Michael and Tomas Mulcahy, Connie Henley, Clive and Elaine Barry, John, Michael and Willie O’Brien and their cousin John McDonald, Sean and Michael Tobin, Linda Tracey and now honorary Tallow man Liam Hayes from Dunmanway.  We thank them all.  They couldn’t do enough for us.  We thank also The Tipperary club and the G.A.A. authorities in Boston.  A presentation was made to Eoin Barry as a token of the clubs appreciation.  More than anybody else he was responsible for the success of the Boston end of the tour through his organisation and indeed personal generosity.  Mile buíochas Eoin. 

Now the madness of New York lay ahead.  Back at Shannon George had turned up and the advance team were now installed in the Hotel Pennsylvania awaiting the teams arrival from Boston.  Mick Barry (formerly Tourin) was as proud as a peacock strutting around Manhattan in his Tallow club wear.  It doesn’t get much better than this Mick.  Not everything was going smoothly for the advance team however and already we had ruffled the feathers of 2 Bangladeshi cab drivers, a bar man from Mayo and the hotel porter from French Guyana and this on our first night.  We were getting in the New York mood.

First we took Manhattan

I was barely 17 first time I visited New York in 1974.  I was in awe of the place then and almost 28 years later I find I still am.  Mickey Pender collected myself and another Friary boy Johnny Lordan from Ballinleen at J.F.K.  Back then “Tinker” his wife Mary took me into their home that summer.  They would do as much for many Tallow lads in the years that followed.  We were returning now as a club and the “Tinker” was once again there for us.  He’s always been there for Tallow.  We entered Manhattan through the mid town tunnel on or about the time the lads in Boston were finishing their game against Tipperary.  Of all the crossings on to the island no where is the juxta position of Manhattan and its more humble bordering boroughs more acute or dramatic than when you emerge from the mid-town tunnel.  Manhattan is there – in your face.  Treat it as you will but at the end of the day Manhattan will tell you how it should be treated.  Bearing some of this in mind the advance (some wag said during the week the only thing advanced about us was our years) team checked into the Pennsylvania Hotel and spent the rest of the evening on a reconnaissance mission of the 34th St area.  Morning sighed and we headed for the South Street Seaport.  Tourists in their droves were queuing for tickets to view Ground Zero.  All that remains now is a 20 acre building site and a big hole in the ground.  It’s difficult to make the link between what remains and the horrific scenes we watched unfolding on our television screens.  There is still shock and a sense of disbelief here and Sept 11th inevitably comes up in conversation with New Yorkers.  Johnny, Con, George and Mick opt for the Circle Line Cruise Tour while I go north to the Spinning Wheel in Bronxville later on.  We’re all in good form thanks to the benevolence of a Limerick barman in Ryans – I think his name was Kieran Considine and he has a brother in Dungarvan.  After we separated the lads we commandeered the services of Howard and his stretch limousine.  Chauffeur driven around town in a stretch limo wearing the Tallow club jacket – not bad for a Tourin lad Mick Barry.  

George, Mul, Barry, Con and Geary.

Mustang Sally’s on 28th Street was like walking into any bar in downtown Tallow on Saturday night.  The team and officials had arrived from Boston.  Eoin Barry had travelled also as had Michael O’Brien (Beano), New York based lads Roy Henley, Kieran Murphy and the youthful Milo were all there.  Club Chairman Johnny Mc wasn’t too happy with the advance team.  Instead of being at the hotel to greet the team on arrival they were swanning around Broadway in the stretch limo sipping champagne and starting to show the signs of it.  Most of the group visited the Greenwich Village area of the city before retiring for the night.  The game against New York next day (Sunday) was scheduled for 11a.m. up in Rockland County, so it would be an early enough start.  I’ve run out of time again but we’ll conclude next week “Spud makes a comeback”, Roy and Stewart don the club jersey against New York”.  “Pa gets lucky in the Bronx” and “High Rollers” travel by limo to the game.
Transport to the game upstate in Rockland County on the Sunday was courtesy of the New York GAA Board.  The game itself wasn’t a classic – the biggest cheer of the day went to Kieran “Spud” Murphy when he was introduced in the second half.  Stuart Barry and Roy Henley also ‘guested’ for the club.  New York were glad of the work out as they play Antrim in the All Ireland Championship in a few weeks.

Group photo at the pitch in Rockland County, New York.

After the game everybody was invited back to the “Jolly Tinker” where the man himself had prepared a magnificent meal.  Finn McCarthy expressed the appreciation of all present, he spoke with great emotion of Mickey Prendergast’s contribution to club, county and country over the years.  Tinker was never found wanting whenever an Irish immigrant was in need of a job, a place to stay, or just a friendly word of advice.  The club presented him with a plague as a memento of our visit. 

Tinker Hosts Tallow.

Fiona McDonnell then made a presentation on behalf of the club to Valerie Loftus in appreciation of her help with travel arrangements.
There was still 2 days of touring, sight seeing and shopping left but here I must end my story as I’m caught for time.  We have so many people to thank – Collette Aherne, Sharon Henley, Mary Beecher and all the other Waterford people who met us – Johnny Phelan and the Waterford Club – forgive me if I left anyone out.
Later on in the year we might finish the N.Y. story – you’re off the hook for now Pa.

Group photo outside the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York.