I’m convinced for years now that Ireland’s big tourism picture is made up of little dots. Pockets of pixels – or clusters of grain – if film is your thing.
These pockets of human decency and warmth so vastly populate the landscape that the overall picture only becomes apparent when stepping away after an up close and personal experience here.
A Patch on the Story
Highly funded agencies burst their budgets and their chops to present a picture of tourism as they think is should look. Their deliberations are everywhere. But do they reflect the reality on the ground and do they do justice to the little dots that make up the big picture?
One pocket of pixels concerns the January morning of Friday last. Then, a couple of dozen rugby loving, Guinness appreciating, Sheila Prendiville’s missing, American visitors were guests of Castleisland for most of the weekend.
The Broad Atlantic
Guests of Denis and Catherine Brosnan and family at their home in Cahernard in particular and guided across the broad Atlantic Ocean by son, Seamus.
Early that bitterly cold morning the visitors were treated to a guided tour of the Con Houlihan Trail by Tommy Martin.
A Sup of the Bottle
Back in Cahernard, the cold soon left their bones after a sup of the bottle – which has now become a traditional part of the visit by the New Jersey based, Morris Rugby Corporation and the American Branch of the Munster Rugby Supporters Club.
This visit was their sixth in succession and, in pulling out all the stops for their guests, a long time Brosnan family friend, Gerard Collins – former Fianna Fail Minister for Justice and MEP was a VIP in Cahernard and part of the welcoming party.
His ladling hand, so lovingly applied around his native West Limerick for years, was brought back into play as bowls of Irish Stew warmed the hearts of the locals and visitors in Brosnans’ kitchen.
The senior Morris clubmen knew they needed it all for their 7pm annual showdown at The Crageens for the John Browne Memorial Cup.
Club in the US
Castleisland RFC members presented the visiting Morris team with a glass trophy in an act of continuing friendship and to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the club in the US.
That the John Browne Cup stayed in Castleisland is being put down to an imbalance of age in the teams. It may also be also down to Castleisland’s failure to find enough appropriately aged gentlemen of sufficient agility to take to the field in the autumn of their years on a winter’s night.
We’ll Be Back
Even so the American cry of ‘We’ll be Back’ echoed around The Crageens after the game and later on, with more gusto, around Browne’s Bar.
After all that their pilgrimage to and participation in Munster’s huge 46 – 3 win over Castres on Sunday only put the tin hat on the whole Castleisland and Munster 2018 experience.
Mind for Porter
If the American’s have developed a fondness for porter, I know exactly where they got it.
Their introduction / induction was at Sheila Prendiville’s Bar and Grocery on their first two visits. During the tours of 2013 and 2014 they camped at Castleisland’s No.22 Main Street and loved the porter they got there.
Ambassador of Castleisland
At the 40th anniversary dinner recently one of the members rated the visits to Castleisland thus:
“Ambassador of Castleisland, Ireland to the United States, Seamus Brosnan.
A unique and integral part of the Morris Rugby tradition is the Very Extra Special, Once In a Lifetime, Never to be Repeated, tour to Ireland.
Now entering the sixth tour, Seamus has coordinated these tours, mixing craic with the extended Brosnan clan, a match between Morris and Castleisland and along with, of course, a Munster Rugby game.
From the Captain of the Castleisland side, Seamus presented John Sutherland and Mike Ryan with the prestigious Arthur J. Guinness Award.
John received it for his outstanding and meritorious play on the pitch. Mike? Well, he holds the record for purchasing 17 pints of Guinness at one time. Some of them he even shared with the other patrons.”
One Night in Sheila’s
One night just after dark in Sheila’s one of them ordered six pints with great politeness and was told ‘fill away there yourself.’
David ‘Dauber’ Prendiville stepped up to the mark and provided a ring by ring guide to filling, appreciating and drinking porter.
He was about to explain about the book but one of them gave him money – he’s still talking about it.
The Morris Rugby Football Club was founded in September 1977.
The club has grown to a size of 50 plus players, an Old Boys team and a women’s team.
They’ll be back.
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