Denis O'Gorman is a singer and writer originally from Cork, a city in Ireland, now making his home in Quincy, Massachusetts.
He recently visited WGBH and recorded a poem about his 4-year old self spending an extraordinary day with his father going to a hurling match at what was then called the Athletic Grounds on the banks of the river Lee. Hurling is an ancient game in Ireland and is more popular perhaps, than ever today.
The poem also references one of hurling's legends, Christy Ring, who dominated Cork teams during the 1940s, 50s and early 60s. He was the most revered athlete in the county, before or since. It also references a unique local soft drink known as Tanora - a favorite treat for children during the somewhat economically challenged time O'Gorman grew up.
The dominance of the Catholic Church in Irish society, from the foundation of the state in 1921 thru relatively recent times, is difficult to describe. So inextricably intertwined were government, the courts, law enforcement, even social occasions like dances, concerts, movies, and sports, that odd traditions developed. For example, Gaelic football and hurling, games as described in the poem, were regularly started by a Cardinal or Bishop having the captain of each team kneel and kiss his ring. In this poem, the tradition of the assembled crowd singing the strident religious song "Faith of our Fathers" before games is described.
The introductory music for our Words and Music segment is "Eleanor Plunkett," written by Turlough O'Carolan (1670 - 1738) and performed by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin (1950-2018). It is taken from the album, Lament.
Piece, Artist, Album:
"The Boys of Fairhill," Jimmy Crowley, The Boys of Fairhill
"Faith of our Fathers," Frank Patterson, Faith of our Fathers.