A true Gael

December 31, 1999
A native of Cúil-Aodha in west Cork, Peadar Ó Liatháin arrived in Boardsmill on the 3rd November 1951 to take up a teaching post in the local National School. Cork's loss has been Boardsmill's gain. "Bhí an t-adh liom nuair a tháinig mé go Co. na Mi bheith ar lóistín le Muinntir Fitzsimons i gceartlár Boardsmill. Is mó scéal a inis Pat dom agus bhí sé féin agus a bhean Jane agus a gclann agus na comharsain go caoin cinéalta liom. Níorbh fhada go raibh réimse mor do mhuinntir Boardsmill ar m'aithne, go mór nuair a chuas isteach sa GAA. I 1964 d'aistrigh mé isteach go Trim go tigh ar a dtugtar 'Mill House'. Bhí sé in aice na Bóinne agus muileann agus fearaisti eile a bhain le muilteoireacht ann fadó. Ba le Mrs. Gilsenan an tigh agus bhí roinnt eile ag fanúint ann chomh maith. "Cáirse dílse dom féin ó shin isea iad san go léir. Bhí iníon léi pósta in aice linn agus d'fhas an clann suas idir an dá thigh. D'fhanas sa tigh eile anois nuair a thagaim go Troim. Bhí Mrs. Gilsenan chomh maith dom is a bhí mo mháthair féin. Is amhlaidh do mhuinntir an tí eile. Tá grá mór agam do Ghaeilgeoirí Rath Cairn. Cuireann sé an baile i gcuimhne dhom. Aithníonn ciaróg, ciaróg eile." Peadar O Liatháin was invited to become secretary of Boardsmill Hurling club in 1956, on the sudden death of then secretary Pat Fay, with, as he says himself, 'a very limited knowledge'. His appointment coincided with the club's second junior championship success. "The club was founded in 1944, three years later they won their first title, the junior championship," Peadar recalls. "We were very lucky to win the junior again in '56, my first year as secretary. We beat Navan O'Mahonys in the final at Trim in November. They were leading by twelve points at half-time and probably thought they had it won but we came back in the second half to beat them. Incidentally, Peter McDermott came on as a sub in the second half of that game." Peadar continues: "We were up senior the next year but didn't do too well. Then, in '58, we won the championship and O'Growney Cup double which was an outstanding achievement for a club which had just been senior for two years. We beat Kiltale in the final of the senior championship while we beat Trim in the O'Growney Cup decider at Navan. "We won the O'Growney Cup again two years later and the championship in '64, '71, '73, '74 and '75. We had a great team in those days. Half of them would have played for Meath, the likes of Sean and Michael Garrigan, TJ Reilly, Seamus Carney, David Perry, Joey Grehan, Ben Kelly, Vincent Guy, Eamonn Cograve, amongst many others.. Unfortunately, we haven't won the senior since. "We won the senior and junior double in 1975 and were the first hurling club to receive the 'Meath Club of the Year' award. "We also won several camogie championships and our Under 14 hurlers were Meath's first representatives in Feile na nGael. We also acquired a fine playing field and dressingrooms in Kilmurray." Boardsmill celebrated the ruby anniversary of the first SHC and O'Growney Cup success at a well attended dinner and presentation night in the Wellington Court Hotel on 22nd of January this year. Many of the successful panel were present to receive their commemorative plaques from Hurling Board Chairman Sean Colgan. Presentations were also made to the club's successful team of 1998 which won medals at junior and U21 grades. Unfortunately, there'll be no medals to be handed out at this year's Dinner Dance. " We have had a very poor year in '99. I don't think we won a game in the senior championship and were subsequently relegated. The minor championship is still to be finished as is the Under 21 and we lost the Under 16 final to Kilmessan. "Dessie Hamilton, TJ and Hughie Reilly and Michael Leonard did great work with the U16s. That team won the U14 'A' two years ago when they beat O'Mahonys. They also won the U14 rural championship and the U15 league. It was a pity they didn't add the U16 to that collection." How did the club fare out on the football fields? "We didn't do too well in the junior or U21 championships," the affable O Liathain replies. "We got to the quarter-final of the U16 where the eventual champions, Drumconrath/Meath Hill, only beat us by two points. "In the last three years or so we reached the closing stages of the Under 12 and Under 14 football competitions. In 1997 we won our first ever football titles, the Under 14 championship and Under 13 leagues." Peadar retired as principal of Boardsmill NS in September '94. He's fulsome in his praise of Cumann na mBunscoil's contribution to underage football and hurling in the county. Incidentally, Peadar is an Honorary President of Cumann na mBunscoil. "I can't praise high enough the work which Cumann na mBunscoil does in the schools throughout the county. Teachers, male and female, enter teams into the competitions, a lot of them in with not a chance of winning anything, and it's all voluntary work. The bunch of lads who act as officials of Cumann na mBunscoil also deserve credit for their dedication and ability. The kids enjoy it and Meath stars of the future start out there. "Christine O'Brien and the Guys, Brid and Edel, our past pupils, won Leinster medals in ladies football but were unlucky to lose out in semi-finals and finals. Another past pupil, Alan Ashe, won an All-Ireland minor medal in 1990. Another Boardsmill man, Henry Balfe, would have played with the Meath minors about thirty years ago. Paudie Guy and Thomas Reilly won Leinster and All-Ireland U21 'Special' hurling medals this year and there are others from previous years who would have won medals with Meath at Under16, 18 and 21 levels." Since retiring from teaching, Peadar spends most of his time in Cork but his duties as Treasurer of the Hurling Board (he's held that position since the mid-fifties) and as a member of the Co. Board's Special Investigations Committee, not to mention his commitments with Boardsmill, ensures he's a regular visitor to his adopted county. Peadar is also Uachtarán of Coiste na Gaeilge. "I have to say that I was very disappointed with amount of Irish in the match programme for this year's Senior Hurling final. Incidentally, there isn't a word of Irish on the GAA's official website, not even 'slan leat' or 'Bail o Dhia oraibh go leir'. The Cork native had been involved with all Boardsmill underage teams up to the early part of this decade. Others such as Tommy Murray, Paul Daly, Patsy Brady, Larry McLoughlin, Mick Kelly and Hughie Reilly and others, would have helped out. "As did many mothers with their cars and catering and organising skills", adds Peadar. Nowadays, Michael Leonard, TJ and Hughie Reilly, Peter McLoughlin, Thomas Darby and Christine O'Brien keep the flag flying. Growing up, Peadar attended Cúil Aodha NS and Coláiste Íosagáin secondary school. There he became close friends with GAA commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh and their friendship continued at St. Pats training College. GAA legends such as Sean Purcell of Galway and Sean Murphy of Kerry (both selected on An Post's 'Team of the Millennium') and Jerome O Shea of Kerry also attended the training college at that time. Naomh Ábán (home of current Cork football stars Anthony O Loingsigh and Micheal Ó Cronín) is Peadar's local club. He is currently a Vice-President of Naomh Ábán. His brother, Donal, who played with the local club, is the holder of a Munster Colleges medal, which he won with Coláiste Íosagáin, and also garnered a Tipperary senior football medal with Fethard. Donal's son, also called Donal, was centre half back on the Rebel County team which defeated Meath in the 1996 All-Ireland junior final. This year's All-Ireland senior football decider was an occasion of mixed emotions for Peadar. "It was a difficult All-Ireland for me," he admits. "Obviously I was hoping that the two lads from home (Anthony and Micheal) would do well but, of course, I also wanted Meath to do well. I had no regrets when the final whistle went. "Sean Boylan has been a friend of mine for ages now and he's one of nature's gentleman. He came to Boardsmill school to present medals in the past. I remember the night he was appointed manager by the Co. Board. It was a case of 'sure he'll do until we find someone better'. Time has shown there isn't any better. No one can begrudge him his success which hasn't changed him one bit and will not be repeated. "I have made numerous friends in the GAA, Co. Board and club officers, players (hurling and football), but I'll name only five. Liam Ó Craobháin, Rúnaí Contae, Peter McDermott, Brian Smyth and Paddy Dixon of the famous 49ers, and Mattie Gilsenan. Though Boardsmill played many hard games down the years there was never any bad feelings and I enjoy going to Trim, Kilmessan, Rathmolyon, Longwood, Athboy, Kildalkey, Navan, Dunderry, Kiltale etc and meeting up with the old and young again." The failure to make any headway in the standard of hurling in the county disappoints Peadar. "When one thinks of the efforts put in by the clubs with so little to show for it, it almost breaks ones spirit. Recently there was an excellent review of underage football. If such a review was felt necessary in football, surely a similar one is vital to the future of hurling. Initially it was thought that the review would cover both, but the committee decided (rightly in my opinion) to stick to football. It is up to the Hurling Board to organise a similar review of the state of underage hurling, paying particular attention to its relation to underage football, and the problems of dual clubs and players." Peadar concludes: "Finally, I have to pay tribute to the people, parents and children of Boardsmill. They gave me so many happy and satisfying years, putting up with numerous mistakes and inexperience. They all had a great pride in Boardsmill and would do anything for school and club. We had a school mass on the Feast of the Sacred Heart since 1961 and now on February 1st, the Feast of St. Brid, patroness of the school "I had the luck to teach two generations and sometimes a third. Families were big when I first came, 5, 6, 7, 8 and even 12 sons from one family made sure that the classes were full size or more. I taught Seamus Kennedy who won the Ras Tailtean and a Minor hurling championship and the Minister for the Environment Noel Dempsey came to Boardsmill and won underage competition. I taught in three schools, the 'Old School' (1849), the 'New School' (1953) and the 'Very New School' (1986). We started with two teachers and ended with five. To all the teachers I was privileged to teach with míle buíochas as bhur gcaradas agus bhúr gcabhair. To the priests also thanks."

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