15 Aug 2022

Remembering Dundalk's Tommy McConville as a great footballer

Peter Kavanagh

Remembering Dundalk's Tommy McConville as a great footballer

Remembering Dundalk's Tommy McConville as a great footballer

In relation my article last week about the former Paddy Clarke's pub in Jocelyn Street, the Editor tells me that he had a communication from Jim McCourt, formerly of Quay Street, now living in Bay Estate, in which he takes me to task in relation to the late Tommy McConville's profession after his soccer playing days.

Jim writes --- “Peter states that the late Tommy McConville was once a landlord of it, this is not correct, at the time Tommy was around Paddy Clarke's pub was long closed. Tommy did manage the Jocelyn Inn, formerly Peadar McAneany's, (at 6, Jocelyn Street) for a short while, at that time the Jocelyn Inn was owned by the late Willy Molly. Tommy also managed a pub in Park Street where 'Brubakers' is today.”

Of course Jim is correct, is he ever wrong? It was just that I had not realised that the older Clarke's pub had been closed so long and I looked up some old records to see just how long ago that was!

Well, I did not discover exactly when but learned that it must have been over fifty years as there is no mention of it in the revived 'Tempest's Annual' published by the Old Dundalk Society first published in 1967.” What did surprise me was that, from a later edition of the Old Dundalk Society's publications, dated 1971/72, that at that time, there were still 89 publicans and vintners listed as trading in Dundalk fifty years ago --- and that may not have been all the licensed premises in Town of the time! I wonder how many there are in 2018?

I don't know but am sure that there only a fraction of that number; which shows just how much the old Town has changed over the past half century! It might make for interesting research by some young local historians to try to make a listing of all the old pubs in and around Dundalk during the twentieth century. It seems to that many of them may have swapped around among the same families and it is as important part of the social history of the Town.

Another thing I remembered about the period that the Dundalk Licensed Vintner's Association was a very powerful commercial organisation in Dundalk after World War 11. Now there are some people who might not think that was good thing but I can testify that the old landlords of Dundalk did a lot of good work for the Town.

They were the driving force behind the Dundalk Maytime Festivals and have raised a lot of money for charity. As one friend of mine has stated, back in those days, the local pub was about the only place where men especially could get together regularly to socialise. This was particularly true of the rural public houses where, in a way, the local pub was the 'heart' of the community.

What the women of Dundalk thought about that is another matter! Drink was the ruination of many families but, generally, I believe that mothers of large families were a special breed who worked hard for their children and exceptionally tolerant when it came to their understanding the 'drinking habits' of their menfolk.

Most men of the time behaved well enough towards their wives and families and worked hard for little enough reward.

The same wise friend observed “the women had their own “sub-culture” in which old ladies could drink in private and that is the reason that there were many pubs in Dundalk that had 'snugs' exclusively for women'.

It was not a great arrangement and things have changed a lot for the better in this respect over the past fifty years; but 'that is how it was' and there is no reason to believe that young people then were any more unhappy then that they are today.

To come back to the late Tommy McConville, I did not really know him very well but my memory of him was that he could 'put away a pint or two with the best'! He was a very congenial fellow and I don't think he would have wanted anybody to regard him as a 'saint'.

In spite of that many people who did know him have remarked that he never turned up to play a game or even a practice with the slightest trace of drink on him. He was a truly professional footballer and my own best memory of was talking to him in the dressing rooms of White Heart Lane after a hard European Cup game against Tottenham Hotspurs.

Tommy remarked, as he took off his football boots, 'How was that for thirty five year old?' You see, at that time, the 'mid-thirties' was about the limit at which most players could play to the top of their abilities.

Tommy had played as well as any other player on either side on that night in which Dundalk only went down 1-0 to one of the best football sides in Europe at the time. The pity is that he did not live a little longer to enjoy his retirement from the game!

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.