My Tipperary Life

Interview: Thurles native Gerry Molumby shares his favourite things about Tipperary

Niamh Dillon


Niamh Dillon


Thurles native Gerry Molumby shares his favourite things about Tipperary

Gerry interviewing Maureen O’Hara at her home in Glengarriff a few years before her death

Thurles native Gerry Molumby has been living and working in the UK since 1979, and has been involved in Irish welfare and cultural organisations throughout that time.

His own Irish theatre company Triskellion has produced many Irish plays and concerts and this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Now retired, he lives in Derbyshire with his wife Fiona and son Cormac.

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

My perfect day or weekend is being home for a family gathering or a wedding in Tipperary. Living now as I do in the UK for nearly forty years, returning home and meeting up with my extended family is a great joy.

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

Fellow Thurles man Dr. Gerard O’Donoghue, also living here in the East Midlands in England. He pioneered cochlear implants for babies born with hearing impairment. He now spends much of his time travelling the world and teaching doctors in Asia, especially, how to perform the procedures there.

Dr. Gerard was recently given an Honorary Doctorate by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and I wrote a feature on his great work in a past edition of the Tipp Star!

What's your first Tipperary memory?

First clear memories are around First Communion, lots of nuns and brothers and the few bob given on the day.
Marian Processions and Tipperary hurling teams, in the sixties coming down from Dublin on the train to be greeted and lauded on the steps of the Cathedral.

Brought up on anecdotes like 'The summer is not over until the hay is saved' and 'Cork beaten in the All Ireland'!

This image so clearly captured by Dennis O’Driscoll in his poem ‘The Sunday Game On The TV’,

“Tension so intense that if a Cathay Pacific jumbo chanced
to touch down on the dung-plated
sun-saturated farmyard
not one would cast a living
glance in its direction”

The centenary of the GAA being celebrated in and around Thurles in 1984 is a great memory. I do recall the Fleadh Cheoil in 1965 but that’s all in black and white!

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

As the song says ‘It Is so lovely around the hills of Killenaule’, penned by the late Davie Cormack of the same parish! It is my mother’s homeland and we spent long summer days there in the sixties on my uncle Jimmy and Francie Glasheen’s farm in Crohane.

What do you think gives Tipperary its unique identity?

For me, and I hear it often in the UK, is ‘It’s A Long Way To Tipperary’, written in 1900 by a shy young man in his parents pub in Warwickshire (now called The Tipperary Inn).

Originally called ‘A long way to Connemara’ and in ballad format, someone changed it to Tipperary and with World War 1 pending, a music publisher in London suggested it be given a marching beat.....and the rest is history. Specifically on the place Tipperary “It’s my home county, it made me who I am!”

Do you have a favourite local writer or author?

The poet and friend of Seamus Heaney, Denis O’Driscoll, again a fellow townie ! I was given a book of his poems by my niece Aoibheann on my 60th birthday and I like his brevity, conciseness, puns and humour. I have put my own pun on his poem ‘Circling the Square’; by calling it ‘cycling the square’ which he did like the rest of us to school at Thurles CBS.

What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?

Tipperary and Ireland has changed beyond recognition since my growing up days there. It is more mature now, more inclusive and more confident.

In October next in the Referendum of Votes for the Irish abroad I hope Tipperary will give me back my vote for the President of the Irish nation at home and abroad. Tipperary has built on the values of historic organisations like Muintir Na Tíre and of course thrives in GAA.

The songs and prose of Charles Kicham and the contemporary caustic humour of Pat Shortt (Thurles again!) gives great hope for the future.

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

Put back Scully’s Cross on the Rock of Cashel again. It fell having been struck with lightening in the seventies, I remember it well.

It is a huge Celtic cross, stood erect to the sky and dominated that end of the monument and balances it perfectly as a panoramic view to all things ancient and Christian Ireland.

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