Danny Murphy  Pic. Ulster GAA


Northern Standard  Thursday 8th December

The GAA in Ulster is mourning the loss of the Ulster Council Secretary and Chief Executive Danny Murphy, who died yesterday (Wednesday) at the age of 67. He stood down from his role earlier this year because of ill health but was to remain in the post until February 2017. Mr Murphy’s funeral Mass will take place today Saturday 10th December at 12 noon in St Mary’s Church, Burren, near Newry. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Past President of the Ulster Council Martin McAviney from Ballybay said Danny had acted as a mentor to him in his thirty years’ involvement with the Council. He paid tribute to Mr Murphy who he said was a personal friend and had travelled with him to many places throughout the province on GAA business.

“He was a man of absolute honesty and integrity. He had the foresight to bring the Ulster Council to a whole new level in the sporting world, in areas such as coaching, protection issues and above all his role in the peace process since the signing of the Good Friday agreement in 1998. He was able to bring everyone with him when it came to taking initiatives. His legacy is that there is now a structure in place in Ulster GAA that is fit for purpose in the modern era”, he said.

Mr McAviney said the late Mr Murphy had a good knowledge of legal issues such as ownership of property. He also knew the fine details of the GAA rule book. He continued: “My last duty as President of the Ulster Council was to accompany Danny at the grounds awards last year. He was a guiding light for many people at club level. He was a very fair man, who always did things by getting agreement on them. His belief was that the only way of going forward was to ask people to take ownership of projects”.

The esteem in which he was held by other sports can be judged by the responses from organisations such as Ulster Rugby and the Irish Football Association. Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: “I got to know Danny very well and I enjoyed working with him. I was often able to count on his wise counsel.

“He was keen for the various sporting organisations in Northern Ireland to work together to improve facilities for all sports.”

The North’s First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said in a statement: “Danny Murphy made a colossal contribution to sport over many years and his death will leave a massive void. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said: “Danny was a powerful force for reconciliation on the island of Ireland, and between Britain and Ireland. He made an enormous contribution to the professionalism of the GAA in Ulster.

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Comhairle Uladh, Michael Hasson said: “It was with profound sadness that we heard of Danny’s passing. We know that this sorrow is felt by all Gaels in Ulster, Ireland and throughout the wider GAA world. Danny was an outstanding leader who provided unstinting dedication to the GAA in Ulster for over 35 years. His contribution to every aspect of the GAA, from his initial involvement with St Mary’s GAC, Burren, his beloved County Down and his immense commitment to Comhairle Uladh brought unprecedented success to every unit of the Association he was involved in.”



The Flaggy Shore  Photo: © M. Brogan

The Flaggy Shore Photo: © M. Brogan

A friend who introduced me a year ago to the beautiful Flaggy Shore walk near the Burren in County Clare texted this morning to say that the walk had been ‘wiped out’ owing to storm damage in the last 48 hours. They had enjoyed a walk there just after Christmas but found the path along the shoreline from which you can look across to Galway Bay had been covered in stones and pebbles and seaweed, washed up by the high waves.

The facebook page for the Flaggy Shore reported yesterday that they had “just heard from the Fahy’s of Linnalla Ice Cream fame that the road near the Marine Research Station on the Flaggy Shore has been destroyed by wave action. The combination of a spring tide and storm surge together with high waves caused extensive damage. Massive boulders used to protect some land between Lough Muree and the Martello Tower have been dislodged and fields flooded with seawater. County Council workers are trying to deal with the damage as best they can. More harsh weather is expected“.

Flaggy Shore January 2013  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Flaggy Shore January 2013 Photo: © Michael Fisher

This time last year it was a very different scene and the weather was relatively mild. However the storm in recent days has badly affected parts of County Clare, especially Lahinch where major damage was done to the promenade area.

Seamus Heaney portrait by Colin Davidson 2013 Photo: © Michael Fisher

Seamus Heaney portrait by Colin Davidson 2013 Photo: © Michael Fisher

The stretch of shoreline at the Flaggy Shore, Finvarra near New Quay was mentioned by the late Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney in his poem Postscript (1996). He refers to a flock of swans at “a slate-grey lake”  at Lough Murree. Hopefully the walk will eventually be restored as it is one of the nicest I have ever done. Thankfully it appears that little damage has been done to any property in this sparsely populated area.

Swans at Lough Murree beside the Flaggy Shore, January 2013  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Swans at Lough Murree beside the Flaggy Shore, January 2013 Photo: © Michael Fisher

Meanwhile as the storm rages on, it is reported that the popular Moville shore path alongside Lough Foyle leading towards Greencastle County Donegal has also suffered damage.


Flaggy Shore

Flaggy Shore

A New Year trip to Kinvara County Galway gave me the opportunity to explore some of the beautiful scenery around the Burren in County Clare. Our host brought us for a walk along the Flaggy Shore at New Quay. The final section of the loop gave us a good view of the limestone flag stones along the shoreline. Across the bay in the distance we could see Galway, Salthill and the Barna Road leading towards Spiddal. In the distance you could spot the martello tower at Finnevarra. But on this occasion we did not have time to visit the tower. After parking the car at the beach, walking westwards, we took a left hand turn and started a gently uphill ascent past Mount Vernon.

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

Checking the origin of the property on my return home I discovered the building was once the summer home of Lady Gregory of Coole Park and it has a place in Irish literary history. Among those entertained there were WB Yeats, AE (George Russell), Synge, O’Casey and George Bernard Shaw. It is now part of Hidden Ireland’s Historic Houses, offering upmarket accommodation and dining. There is a more recent literary connection. This stretch of shoreline was mentioned by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney in his poem Postscript (1996). He refers to a flock of swans at “a slate-grey lake” and  sure enough when you walk over the hill and along the other side you come to Lough Murree. There as the path continues along the lough shore, a group of swans was busy ducking and diving at one end of the lake.

Lough Murree

Lough Murree

This is certainly a scenic spot but underneath the beauty there is also a story of a tragedy over 40 years ago that claimed the lives of nine schooldchildren. Looking at the short distance across the water from the harbour at New Quay to Aughinish Island it is hard to imagine so many casualties occurred here. But a more close look at the tide will reveal just how dangerous a spot this is, with currents from different directions meeting in the middle and clashing with each other. Here on June 29th 1969 nine schoolchildren lost their lives when a boat on its maiden voyage overturned in the choppy waters. The disaster was covered by Kerry photojournalist Padraig Kennelly and pictures of the search operation can be found in his archive.

Shoreline near New Quay

Shoreline near New Quay