In Conversation With:
Welcome to our 8th edition of the Tattler. Championship season is here! Busy times on and off the pitch for our entire GAA Community. The weeks are passing so quickly, with training sessions to be organised, pitches to be booked ,teams to be picked, matches to be played, games to be analysed. It’s all happening in Rathleague, week in, week out, from the u7’s up to Senior, right across the club.We wish all our teams, players, managers, coaches, the best of luck in their championship games. Wear the Portlaoise jersey with pride and represent the club with dignity and respect.
C’mon The Town!
THE TATTLER TEAM
PRIDE OF THE CLUB
This month the Tattler caught up with one of our own – Catherine Fitzgerald. Catherine is Vice-Chairperson of the club. She is married to great clubman Seamus,and mother to Tommy, Barry and Eimear. She has just completed her terms asCathaoirleach of Laois County Council.
Catherine, did you enjoy being Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council?
I enjoyed it a lot. It was a great honour and a privilege. It was different to normal in that there were no meetings in the LCCChamber at all due to Covid. They were held online mainly and in Dunamaise Arts Centre. It was challenging in that way. We couldn’t do the like of civic receptions etc but like everyone else we just had to get on with it and carry out the day today running of the council in a different way.
What inspired you to go down the political road?
My father was political in his own way. He was a member of Fianna Fail but he never would have canvassed or put himself forward.He was a quiet man. But he would work away in the background and politics would be a topic of conversation around the table a thome. I think that’s where my interest in it came from
What are the worst aspects of the job?
The worst part of the job is not being able to deliver at times for people. That’s very frustrating when you are doing your best and you just can’t deliver on things that people ask of you. Things can be outside of your control, but it always hurts.
What are the best parts of it?
For me it’s all about pride of place. Having pride in your town and your county. I love to see projects getting done that add value to a community.
On a personal level it’s a great feeling when you can follow through and help people whether it’s with a house or home, a business venture etc. Just knowing you have tried to help and have been able to.
In the county at the moment there are some great projects going on in many communities.
Ballinakill, for example, are doing great work. I think it will be one of the best places in Laois with the work that is going on there.They have Heywood Gardens, the outdoor swimming pool…there’s a new playground and some great walks and its driven by a very strong development committee over there.
In Portlaoise, I have to commend the work of the local Tidy Towns committee which is chaired by our own great townie Gerry Browne. The town looks great. Again, it’s people showing their pride of place and it’s great to see.
Tell us a bit about your childhood, family connections, early memories of the town?
I grew up in Marian Avenue. It was the best place to grow up. Great neighbours and friends for life. My father Tom Daly was from Belmont in Offaly and my mother Mary Osbourne was from Mountrath.
They met in St Fintan’s Hospital where they both worked. All the family were born in Portlaoise.
When did you first get involved in Portlaoise GAA?
It started when I was following the teams my brother Kieran played on. I was a bit of a tomboy and Bill Phelan let me go to all the matches. I was on the sideline the whole time. I could nearly tell Bill who to take off and who to put on! Bill became a great friend and he was at my wedding.
In those early juvenile matches I always remember Com Browne and Ray ‘Chassie’ Delaney…they used to wear Ballyfin socks! Always remember that. A lot of people from Marian Avenue used to go up to the old stand in O’Moore Park and we’d be making noise beating the back of the stand.
I remember the 70s when Graigue were doing well and they used to bring busloads of support. They brought great colour and bling and blang! I have a bit of grá for Graigue ever since because of that colour and noise they brought.
My standout memory of following those town teams was the win over St Vincent’s. Dublin were in their heyday and they had Jimmy Keaveney, Brian Mullins, Bobby Doyle, Tony Hanahoe, Fran Ryder etc and that was a great win and a great day for the town.
Your better half:
I met Seamus in the Montague one Sunday night.
That was the place everyone went. He was a Garda in town and was hurling with Portlaoise. He played both hurling and football back home before he arrived in town.The big thing we had in common was the GAA. Seamus is from Galway – a little place between Ballyforan and Ahascragh, in the parish of Roscommon. And he went to school in Mayo so he’s a proper West of Ireland man!
You must have great memories of following the teams over the years especially with the lads so heavily involved…..any standout memories for you?
I have great memories of a Féile competition up in Ballybofey. It was Barry’s year. I remember lads like Peter McNulty (RIP), Shane McManus, Brian Bowe, Danny O’Shea….we got to the final but lost it by a point. But there was great hospitality and memories for life.
What about following Tommy?! (laughing)
Any time he was captain we never won! Ah no, it was great following the lads teams but you probably don’t realise it at the time. I remember after we won the double (2004) Tommy Mulligan said to me that it was a great achievement to have the two lads winning both finals.
It’s only looking back now I see how good it was.I would love to see us getting back to winning both finals in the same year again.
Losing the Club All-Ireland in 2005.I remember firing the gear into the washing machine the next day. You realise how hard it is to get there.
Mná na gClub:
My best memories are of working in the kitchen with the ladies. I won’t start naming them for fear of leaving one name out but we loved those days. We worked hard but enjoyed it. We catered for funerals, after county finals, for meetings etc.
We loved the build up around it. There was a great sense of community spirit. We’d get craic out of Phil O Keeffe and Jas and others when they’d call over to us. We got to know all the players etc and it was so close knit. We’d make soup and sandwiches. Imelda (Fitzpatrick) would be panicking when she’d see a crowd…..we’d add water to the soup. I was in charge of the gas oven…the rest of them were scared of it. I could’ve been blown up but that was my job! They were the best of times and I will never forget them and all those ladies are great friends.
What are your aspirations for the club into the future?
I would love to see us getting back winning in both codes in men and womens. I think “One Club” will be brilliant for Portlaoise in moving everyone in the same direction.
I would also like to see facilities continuing to develop out in Rathleague. That we could have a place of our own to get together for social events. That our members could use it for family occasions etc.