My Tipperary Life

Chernobyl Children's founder Adi Roche shares her memories and thoughts on Tipperary

Clonmel: it’s always going to be home to me

Tipperary Star reporter

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Chernobyl Children's founder Adi Roche shares her memories and thoughts on Tipperary

Adi Roche: would lve to go on a trip down memory lane with her sister

What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend in Tipperary?

Given that I no longer live in Tipperary I would love to go with my sister on a trip ‘down memory lane’, basing ourselves in our hometown of Clonmel and spend the time re-familiarising ourselves with our old haunts. Then we would expand our trip out to walking up Sliabh na mBán, taking a row on the river Suir with my old club, walking on the new pathway from Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir, taking a drive up The Vee where we would revisit the ‘bottomless’ Petticoat Luce, see the famous ‘stand up’ grave of Lord Grubb, drive on through the beautiful Nire Valley where we went as children with our parents for walking, picnics and fishing…and lots more besides!

Who has made the greatest contribution to Tipperary in your lifetime - and why?

I’d have to say the late, great Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, who was honoured with the ancient title of "Supreme Bard" in 2003. It is impossible to quantify the impact Mícheál has had on not only Tipperary, but Ireland as a whole through his music and genius. His recent death is a profound loss and he will never be forgotten. Vincent Hanly (Fab Vinny) is another Tipperary ‘great’ that contributed to bringing modern ‘world’ music to Ireland, Vincent was an old friend and he was an extremely talented person. Tommy O’Brien also springs to mind as I have many early memories of my parents listening to his radio programme and how, with his strong Tipperary accent, opened our minds to opera and transported us to places in the world that we could only dream of as he described the streets and opera houses he visited around the world. Tommy and his girlfriend Moggy, used to listen to opera all the time and I remember we sometimes sat on a summers evening on the pavement outside Moggy’s vegetable shop and listen dreamily to the most amazing music we had ever heard!

What's your favourite part of the county - and why?

I’d have to say Clonmel…it’s always going to be home to me. Cluain Meala translates to the ‘meadow of honey’ and the richness of the land around Clonmel, the placement of the town nestled beautifully between the mountains with its rolling hills and flowing River Suir never ceases to make my heart skip a beat as we drive that last mile from Cahir to Clonmel.

What's your first Tipperary memory?

I get a tingling feeling in my stomach which stays with me and intensifies on Christmas Eve as my sister and I wrap up warmly to go down to the main streets of Clonmel for the grand arrival of Santa Claus! We are brimming with anticipation!   Wondering would we get close enough?  Would he have got our letters that we posted up the chimney? Each year the main street shut down as thousands of people crammed the streets to listen to the local brass band as they set the atmosphere for Santa in his horse drawn Sleigh. Finally my father is ready to take us..we can’t get there fast enough! Eventually we arrive and Dad tries to get a good spot near Woolworths.  We and the other children of the town chatter excitedly until finally we hear the strains of the band, and yes! The man himself is there in all his glory! I beg my father to lift me up to see and he goes one better and puts me on his shoulders and slowly edges his way closer…I see Santa! He’s heading down towards us! Suddenly he’s right beside us!  Please turn and see us Santa I pray! And at that moment, he turns, spots my sister and me on Dad’s shoulders, he comes over smiling and says, ‘ah it’s the Roche Sisters, girls ye’ll be getting what ye asked for tonight’! He winks at my father and is gone. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with the thrill of it all! Mission accomplished we dash home to tell our brothers and Mum about our historic meeting with Santa!

What do you think gives Tipperary its unique identity?

There is a sense of community spirit in Tipperary that I find is really unparalleled.

Do you have a favourite local writer or author?

I have to say that from an early age I was influenced by the writer/poet/patriot Charles Kickham…he would definitely be one my favourite local authors. Though his writings are well over 100 years old now, they have aged like a fine wine, which is a testimony to the skill of his work. His stories enthral and capture the imagination, while transforming you to thoughts of Tipperary from a time gone by. Nowadays I think of authors like Donal Ryan from Nenagh who has in recent times been long-listed for the Booker Prize for his book The Spinning Heart. Donal is wonderfully talented and his perseverance and self-belief have enabled him to produce really fine work and gives us, the reader, a hint of what has yet to come.

What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?

Seeing the recent #March4Tipp protests truly broke my heart, because there is so much the county has to offer to industry and individuals. I would love to see more investment in local businesses…unemployment has the possibility of devastating our cultural landscape, as so many bright young minds are forced away from the county. So the biggest challenges include job creation to stem the drain of Tipperary’s youngest, brightest and finest. I believe that on the tourist front we need to ‘sell’ our county in a more invigorating way and really push our rich county history, show our achievements and developments in farming (such as the breeding of the rare Dexter cow!), promoting the incredible nature and beauty of Tipperary.

If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Tipperary, what would it be?

Nothing springs to mind that I would like to change! Tiobraid Árann Abú!