In keeping with the contrary nature of the lrish it is fitting that the most popular sports in Ireland are Gaelic Football and Hurling, sports which few other than those of Celtic origin are familiar with. All 32 counties of lreland participate each year in their respective Championships and no other form of sport exites such passion amongst the Irish.
WE WERE THERE
For the uninitiated Gaelic Football is played between teams of 15 players and is based on a combination of football, rugby, and athletic skill. Hurling, also played between teams of 15 players, is said to be the fastest field game on earth and is played with hurley's or hurling sticks and a small hard ball.
Those familiar with the adventures of Harry Potter will know the airborne version of hurling as Quidditch.
This song celebrates hurling, and the exploits of the Clare hurling team, who after 81 years in the wildeness won the All Ireland hurling championship in 1995, to the delight and amazement of the country.
In order that you may understand the song better perhaps I should mention that Clare is known as the Banner County, and Biddy Earley was a woman who lived in the village of Feakle in County Clare a century ago. She was thought by the local's to have supernatural powers and the gift of prophecy. She could also be vindictive and it is said that due to a feud between herself and a former hurler she put a curse on the Clare hurling team vowing that they would never again win the All lreland championship. For 81 years she was right.
I wrote this song after Clare's victory over Limerick in the 1995 Munster Final and in the last line predicted that Clare would be All lreland champions, which proves I also have the gift of prophecy.
This song was a hit in Clare in 1995 recorded by The Clare Celts, and also features on the Clare hurlers CD from the same year. You may also hear it on my own CD "Words".
We were there, we were there, with the Banner Men from Clare
In Thurles on that bright and sunny day
With those men of high renown, when they won the Munster crown
And Biddy Earley's curse was blown away.
For more than sixty years, we'd walked this vale of tears
And finals by the score bad been and gone
It seemed that in the West, we'd be always second best
We'd never live to see a final won
But Len Gaynor bad a plan, and the mighty Ger Loughnan
He swore that Clare could do it from the start
And the first that Limerick knew, when the final whistle blew
The Banner men had taken them apart.
On the day before the game, the scribes all said the same
They didn't give the men from Clare a chance
And though Limerick bad the skill, the Clare men had the will
They led those Limerick men a mighty dance
When the bohdron's thunder rose, the Limerick forwards froze
With Davey like a lion in the goal
With the banners flying high, come on boys, do or die
The saffron and the blue began to roll.
And when the day was done, and the Munster final won
The Banner's victory chorus split the sky
With the bills of Clare ablaze, we sang and danced for days
With memories that we'll cherish till we die
We'll tell in song and story, of that mighty day of glory
When the Banner's gallant hurlers weaved a spell
They will live for ever more, as in far off days of yore
They bring the Liam McCarthy horne as weIl.
Copyright Pat Cooksey, all rights reserved.