Memorable Days on Kerry's World Tour of 1970

by Weeshie Fogarty

Sydney, another teeming city of millions, we took a stroll down Kings Cross-the Soho of Sydney, the American soldiers on leave from Vietnam walking around in groups enjoying the momentary escape from the loneliness of the front. A boat trip around famous Sydney harbor was a must. The new Opera House was well under construction at the time, a magnificent looking structure jutting out into the sea, Brian Sheehy of that great Tralee GAA family was busy with his cine camera, he must have a superb collection of film from that time 36 years ago. A sing song began on the harbor ferry, Mick o Dwyer always one to lead gave a stirring rendering of The Boys of Barr Na Strada, Mick Ahearn continued with the Australian emigrant song, If We Only had Old Ireland over Here and I chipped in with How Can You Buy Killarney. (Doing my bit for tourism in Beauties Home.)

We had another easy game in Sydney at the Sports Grounds against a side comprised of local Irish emigrants, a cake walk as we won 5-23 to 1-10, Pat Griffin notching up 3-8. Is this a record for a Kerry senior playing with the county? I believe it could well be. Around 5,000 were in attendance and it made welcome relief from the torrid match against Wagga Wagga the previous day. Names on the opposition included, Ollie Courtney, (Fermanagh), Kieran White, (Dublin), Tony De Courcey, Galway), Phil Guiney, (Kerry), Paul Hannon, (Sligo), Tom Stewart, (Derry), and Sean Green, (Antrim).

We bid farewell to Australia and headed for New Zeeland and Auckland was our first stop. St. Patrick's Day and another easy match against a New Zealand side which had a good few local born players in their side. In a curtain raiser we saw the work being done by the local Irish as a under age game was played and I was very impressed by the talents shown by some of the home grown youngsters. Dublin born Frank Quinn was the Vice President of Auckland. During the game played in sweltering conditions I got chatting to one of the umpires at my goal, when he discovered I was from Killarney his interest grew immediately and it is indeed a small world as it transpired that he was one Jim Collins brother of the late Denis who had worked as hall porter in the Killarney Great Southern for many years. And Jim was born in Woodlawn in Killarney and had grown up with my brothers-in –law Tommy and Paddy Slattery. So due to the one sided nature of the contest we had lots of time to reminisce? Brian Sheehy one of our fellow travelers was certainly doing his bit for tourism back home in Tralee. He flew specially the 600 miles to Trentham to present A Tara Brooch to Paula Ryan the New Zealand representative in the 1969 Rose of Tralee festival.

The following day it was sight seeing time, we lazed in the hot springs at Waiwere and we met the Deputy Lord Mayor, Alfred Glasse who told us that one of his grandmothers was Irish. We also visited the New Zealand Brewery and our guide on that tour was the former great All Black wing forward Waka Natham At a very pleasant function before we departed Dr. Jim presented a pen and pencil set to Murt Broderick, ballymalis, beau fort who had put up the kerry party free of charge for four days at his Albion hotel. Murt's brother, {Pat, who farmed at Ballymalis was married to Jackie's Lynes sister, Rita. The Auckland GAA presented Jim with a figure of a Kiwi mounted on a plinth of wood in commemoration of the champions visit to the city. Also presented was a mounted silver Australian ball presented by the Melbourne Gaa as a token of their thanks.
And then it was time to bid farewell to Auckland and our very genial hosts and there was on very nostalgic gathering as everyone assembled to sing that traditional Maori farewell song. "Now id the hour for me to say Goodbye" I had often herd this sang in the fifties around Killarney when groups pf boyhood friends would get together to say farewell to each other as one of them would be taking the emigrant ship to England.  Now in New Zealand I really appreciated the great dept of feelings as our Maori hosts sang for us. And so we headed across the pacific towards the Fiji islands.

We touched down in Fiji, the jewel of the Pacific at 12.30 am. The sweltering oppressive heat was the first thing to hit us as we disembarked. At Fiji Airport to meet us were Father Daniel Ahearn from Moyvane, a cousin of Jim Brosnan, Father Mick Griffin from Castleisland and Fr. Colm Maguire from Dundalk. Indeed all along the way on our journey a forceful reminder of the ever present link with home was the great number of nuns and priests who came out to met and greet us as were arrived and departed our various destinations. We swam at 1.30 am on March 20th as was arrived at our destination, the gateway hotel near Nadi, it was an idyllic few days and the very gently inhabitants of the Islands went out of their way to see to our every need. Back in 1643 a Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered the Fiji islands and of course it was them the Mecca for the rich and famous and became one of the world great tourist attractions. We met Fr. Martin Dobey Superior of the Columbian fathers in Fiji and he explained that there were still many smaller and unspoiled islands where you can be light years away from the hoards of tourists.

Two days later were packing our bags again and heading foe San Francisco where more wonders awaited us. Another huge gathering to greet us at the airport, girl piper's band and Andy McKenna president of the Irish societies was there as was pat Brosnan President of the local football club. Two police out-riders accompanied our two coaches to the Hotel Fielding right in the centre of this magnificent city where we would spend three more memorable days. We played a game against the locals and once again had an easy win. The Golden Gate Bridge, the cable car trips to the Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, were all visited. However I was disappointed not to have got the opportunity to visit forbidden Alcatraz, the former notorious prison, it was occupied at that time by local Indians staking their claim to lands they believed should be theirs. However many years late on another visit to the city by the bay I rectified that and spend an afternoon on the historic island situated out in the middle of the famous bay.

Memorable events crowded on memorable events on this magical tour of the world and of course it's impossible to include all in these few columns. But, for me I feel sure that the visit to the Shamrock Motel over 7.000 feet ups in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a height that dwarf our own magnificent Carrantouhill must rang as one of the great highlights. This beautiful motel, at which we were guests, was then owned by the Brosnan brothers Tim, Maurice and John from Currow, and their brother in law Pat Brosnan from Scartaglin, who is married to Sheila Brosnan a sister of the three Currow boys.

When I point out that all the four boys did not leave Ireland until 1948it is amazing at the success they had achieved. Their property was valued at one and a quarter million dollars, was situated in magnificent surroundings on a giant plateau about ninety miles by sixty looking down on the towering snowcapped peaks. A stunning vista. A noted ski resort, Lake Tahoe which takes its name from the high lakes in the valley, is also a world famous gambling place in which there are many casinos and countless one armed bandits.

I will never forget the wonderful generosity of those people and Sheila and husband Pat were the driving force behind the feasting and entertainment laid on for our party. Words indeed fail me to describe their generosity; they will be forever etched in our memories.

Chicago and New York completed our itinerary and on Monday 30th march 1970 we touched down at Shannon Airport our minds spinning with memories following a footballing odyssey in which we circumnavigated the globe. Every time I hear the words of that beautiful song, "Those far away places with strange sounding names, far away over the Sea," I can't but recall visions of lands far far away, and a time twenty six years ago that Kerry captain Johnny Culloty led his All Ireland champions on that historic first ever world trip to Amsterdam, Vienna, Bahrain, New Delhi, Bangkok, Singapore, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Auckland, Fiji, San Francisco, Chicago, New York.

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