What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend in Tipperary?
Perfect weekend in Tipperary for me would be getting up on a Saturday morning and go play golf in Nenagh or Thurles. Come home and head down to Ballina for a nice meal with my family overlooking the water. That evening then attend a club championship game in Dolla or Nenagh and then perhaps hit the shops or the chipper afterwards for a treat.
On a Sunday then I’d go to the Clare Glens for a nice walk with my wife Joanne, our little man Seán Óg and our dog Chara. Afterwards we’d visit home for a Sunday roast before heading home for an evening sitting out and having a few drinks before retiring to the couch for the night! Nothing too extravagant, simple but perfect for me.
Who has made the greatest contribution to Tipperary in your lifetime - and why?
Tough question but for me it has probably been Michael Lowry. He has done so much for so many people in Tipperary and beyond. The work he has done in his own club of Holycross Ballycahill has been phenomenal and is the best example of how to do fundraising properly in any GAA Club or organisation looking to raise funds on an annual basis. He has been a leading light in the continuing development of Semple Stadium and the resurgence of the Trip to Tipp Music Festival.
He has helped so many people both young and old and there is never anything he considers too big or too small to try and help someone with. People of Tipperary will be talking about Michael Lowry and the wonderful contribution he has made to our county for many years to come.
What's your first Tipperary memory?
My first memory of Tipperary is going to the Munster Final in 1991 in Thurles in the back of a green Volkswagen Beetle with my father Rocky, my cousin and my granduncle. It was just a magical day for a six year old boy who was hurling mad. To see my heroes in the flesh on top of my father’s shoulders is something I will remember forever and something I dream of doing with my own son someday.
The game itself was incredible and will go down in sporting history for the scenes of the fans coming onto the pitch before the final whistle. The journey home was full of stops in every watering hole between Thurles and Killoscully! I was wrecked but so happy. Unknown to me it had begun my passion for Tipperary hurling, little did I know where it would one day take me.
What's your favourite part of the county - and why?
Home is where the heart is – my favourite part of the county is the hurling field in Ballinahinch. I love nothing more than heading down there on my own with a bag of sliotars and striking balls over the bar with the backdrop of the Silvermines Mountains surrounding the pitch. It’s heaven for me.
I could stay there for hours without noticing. For me your favourite place is a place you can constantly return to, spend time there without even noticing, and look forward to returning there again. A close second is the bar in Killoscully, Jimmy Ryan’s. A real haven for chats and good company no matter what the weather or day of the week.
What do you think gives Tipperary its unique identity?
The Premier County – the name means number one and that’s what Tipp is for me. Endless, spectacular views of mountains and hills. The length of the county from the top of Lorrha down to Skehenarinky and beyond. Every village and town along the way has its own personality and unique identity. For me that’s what makes Tipperary unique, every place having their own story, claim to fame whatever it is and every place having a story to tell.
Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
Not really no.
What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?
For me the biggest challenge facing our county today is how to keep the small towns and villages going. The bigger towns are doing well and it is fantastic to see but I am from a very small village and I have seen first-hand how the diminishing facilities are forcing people to move away overseas or perhaps up the country due to the lack of facilities such as small things as shops, a post office, amenities that many take for granted but are seriously lacking in the small places.
What’s the quick fix, I honestly don’t know but it would be fantastic to see more planning or houses being granted in the countryside to help encourage the return of these amenities.
If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Tipperary, what would it be?
A motorway from the top to the bottom of the county!!!!
Former Tipperary hurler Shane McGrath is a primary school principal and analyst with RTE radio and Tipp FM.