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Being an effective Healy-Rae and the magic of the cup

 

Revealed! The 10 rules for being an effective Healy-Rae

 

 

1: When making a speech in the Dáil, always adopt an indignant, serious tone. While it’s not always possible, try to avoid being included in camera shot with Michael Lowry and/or Mattie McGrath as they er…lack credibility.

2: Whatever you’re speaking about – whether it’s the decline of post offices or the rise of Putin – make sure to namecheck Kerry towns, villages, townlands, actual voters, pets…at every opportunity.

3: Never forget the Golden Rule: It’s all the fault of ‘them up there in Dublin’ and/or Dublin 4. Sneer with an extravagant flourish as rehearsed.

4: Before condemning all initiatives to do with rural transport/drink-driving/motoring offences, make it absolutely clear that you are not condoning drink-driving, “nor would you ever”. Look stunned/angry/perplexed if so accused. Remember what we rehearsed: ‘Ivan/Matt/Pat/Claire, if you think I’m going to sit here and take that from you…’

5: In any discussion on drink-driving, always remember to cite the example of the poor ould fellas who are being prevented from going to the pub and enjoying “one or two glasses” of stout. Yes, er…glasses, not pints (stick with that line at all costs, keep straight face).

6: Until further notice (e.g. Government formation talks) Simon Harris is a young pup, Shane Ross has never been past ‘the Red Cow’, Leo Varadkar would want to get out of his ivory tower.

7: Always stick to the Healy-Rae Gospel: “They won’t be happy ‘til they have rural Ireland closed down”.

8: Whatever they say ‘in Dublin’, or in ‘da meeja’, never forget the plain people of Kerry. After all, they are the second most important group in society (after the Healy-Raes, that is).

9: Michael: Always, we mean ALWAYS, wear that cap. Danny: Always, we mean ALWAYS, wear an open-necked shirt (no tie). As long as ye have the cap and no tie, the locals are receiving the signals, loud and clear.

10: If all else fails, adopt that expression which we discussed at length. As you know, we code-named it ‘The Poll-topper’. You know the one, you must remember…yes, that’s it: Adopt that facial expression which suggests that a group of people from Dublin 4 have stolen everything in Co. Kerry overnight…and you have just heard the news. That’s the one!

 

George the TV repair man…and when the Cup was magic…

 

George Latimer was the man who fixed televisions – in between enjoying life with great relish.

  He had a broad smile, a big hearty laugh and a mischevious glint in his eye. ‘Mr & Mrs Latimer’ enjoyed themselves socially, and we often saw them in our parents’ pub in Rooskey, where their arrival was much welcomed.

  Now I needed George to deliver in his day job – because he had our telly, and I wanted it back!

  It was 1979, and for a (very) young lad, amongst the scariest sentences in the English language was: “Sure drop the telly into us and we’ll get it back to you in a few days”.

  Bringing your broken telly into a TV repair shop was like loaning a favourite book to a friend – you could never be sure when you’d see it again.

  In the TV repair shop, once-healthy televisions tended to gather dust as they took their place on the musty shelves – the likely length of their captivity was anyone’s guess.

  Which is not to say that we didn’t appreciate the TV repair man – because we did. Because once the telly went on the blink, the TV repair man was our last hope. If he called to your house, the most dreaded words you could hear after his inspection were: “I’m afraid the valve is gone”. Cue anxious look in direction of parents…

  Anyways, George was our friendly TV repair man, his headquarters in Mohill. And in May 1979, he had our telly in his TV repair shop. At home in Rooskey, we survived the first few days without the telly. But then, as the big day got closer, we became more nervous. Life without a functioning telly on a normal day was bad enough; life without telly on FA Cup Final weekend was unthinkable.

  Fast-forward for a moment to last weekend (we will return to George)… and my mind returned to that frantic fear of possibly not having a telly for the 1979 FA Cup Final forty years ago. Last weekend, the BBC bombarded viewers with FA Cup third round action. There were several hours’ of live football and highlights shows, and while it all was entertaining enough, the quantity – even the quality – simply can’t rekindle what we once had. 

  And what we once had was great. In its heyday, the FA Cup was a huge part of our lives…arguably up there with the heavyweight boxing from Madison Square Garden, the snooker from The Crucible and the tennis from Wimbledon. In one and two channel Ireland in the late 1970s, at a time when live TV soccer was restricted to a handful of games a year, FA Cup Final day – with a five-hour celebrity-inspired build-up – was magical.

  Oh yes, that word…‘magic’. Now I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that a memo went out to all BBC commentators last weekend, but every time a great goal was scored (there were many) and every time a great giant-killing act unfolded (there were many) the man or woman with the mike excitedly referenced the ‘magic’ or ‘romance’ of the cup. And yes, for teams from the lower divisions who turn over high profile opponents, there is, I guess, still some magic and romance in the cup. The reality of course is that almost all of the Premier League clubs are fielding ‘second strings’, reflecting the extent to which the FA Cup is no longer a priority or a glamour competition for the ‘big boys’. 

  For three days before that 1979 final, we implored our parents to keep the pressure on George, the avuncular, larger than life TV repair man from Mohill. Telephone calls, personal visits, homing pigeon, whatever it took. It went down to the wire. Our telly had been in with George for perhaps a fortnight. Kick-off in the 1979 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Manchester United was at 3 o’clock on the Saturday (naturally).

  Our father arrived home from Mohill with the TV at 3.05. We had missed Little and Large during the extensive ITV build-up, but so be it. Telly plugged in. Intake of breath. Pictures. And Sound. All good. Working. Massive relief.

  We saw the first goal, and the four that followed. It was one of the all-time great FA Cup finals. It was Liam Brady’s final. We were bursting with pride as the Irishman made Wembley his playground. Arsenal 3 Manchester United 2. Thanks to our father, thanks to George the TV repair man…thanks to Liam Brady…we had witnessed more of the magic of the FA Cup.

  Little and Large? We caught up with them again…

 

 

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