Many years ago in the ‘Roscommon Champion days’ I used to write a column called ‘Old Dan’. That was fictional; Dan Moran, who won’t mind being called ‘old’, isn’t!
I was delighted to receive this excellent photograph from Athlone-based photographer Liam Kidney this week. Liam photographed Dan Moran, right, on his 101st birthday, as a present for his family.
One of ten children, Dan was born on March 15th, 1918 to John and Sarah Moran (nee Morris) of Bushypark, Mount Talbot, Co. Roscommon. Dan and his sister Lizzie Fallon are the only remaining members of the family now and they reside in the well-known Tearmainn Bhríde Nursing Home in Brideswell, Co. Roscommon.
Dan attended Mount Talbot NS until he was fourteen years of age. He then learned carpentry from his father. In 1935 he emigrated to the UK where he would work for many years. He became an accomplished accordion player, regularly performing in local pubs and clubs. He even played at the London Tube stations when people were seeking refuge from German bombers during the war.
He met his future wife, Josephine (nee Hanley from Limerick) and they married in Chiswick in 1946. The couple returned to Ireland in 1948, to Dan’s homestead. He continued to work as a carpenter and also farmed. Dan maintained his musical hobby and played with various bands and was a member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Dan had a keen interest in Sheep trials and became an expert on the Border Collie breed. He was the first Roscommon man to breed and train Border Collies. He ran the first Sheepdog Trials in Four Roads and completed in trials in Ireland and the UK. Meanwhile, in his workshop he perfected the art of manufacturing Shepherd’s Crooks and walking sticks and distributed them at home and abroad.
Dan celebrated his 101st birthday on Saturday by entertaining his guests with a great rendition of two of his favourite songs…‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ and ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’.
What a great life – and a great man! Congratulations to the original, and real, Old Dan!