After finishing his schooling at fifteen, O’Herlihy follows his grandfather into journalism and secures a job in the reading room of The Cork Examiner. He is only seventeen years-old when he subsequently becomes sub-editor of the Evening Echo, a position he holds for five years. He also graduates to the positions of news, features and sports reporter.
In the early 1960s O’Herlihy begins his broadcasting career when he starts to do local association football reports from Cork for Radio Éireann. In 1965, he makes his first television broadcast in a programme commemorating the sinking of the RMS Lusitania off the Cork coast. After three years O’Herlihy is asked to join RTÉ’s current affairs programme 7 Days to add the required field-reporting skills to the studio-based interviews. The programme has a reputation for its hard-hitting investigative reporting and he reports on many varying stories from illegal fishing in Cork to the outbreak of the crisis in Northern Ireland. In November 1970, the 7 Days programme comes into controversy when O’Herlihy reports a story on illegal money lending. The report is unconventional as it is one of the first television pieces to use hidden cameras, it claims the government is not responding to illegal moneylending. A tribunal of inquiry follows, and O’Herlihy is forced to move away from current affairs.
Following this controversy, while O’Herlihy is not sacked as he has fifteen months left on his contract with RTÉ, he is moved to the RTÉ Sports department. There he works under Michael O’Hehir, who dislikes him and his broadcasting style. In spite of this O’Herlihy fronts RTÉ’s television coverage of the Olympic Games that year. He also becomes involved in the production of various sports programmes.
O’Herlihy is not long in the RTÉ Sports department when he becomes a regular presenter for such programmes as Sunday Sport and Sports Stadium. In 1978 he becomes RTÉ Soccer host alongside Eamon Dunphy and, in 1984, Johnny Giles joins the panel and Liam Brady follows in 1998. Since 1974 O’Herlihy becomes RTÉ’s chief sports presenter for such events as all Olympic Games until 2012, FIFA World Cups until 2014, UEFA European Football Championships until 2012 and European and World Track and Field Championships. He hosts RTÉ highlights of the Ryder Cup in 2006 when it is at the K Club in County Kildare and continues to present coverage of Ireland’s soccer internationals for RTÉ, along with Dunphy, Giles and Brady.
O’Herlihy hosts RTÉ’s coverage of rugby union in the 1980s and early 1990s. However, when RTÉ attains the rights to cover the English Premier League in 1992, Tom McGurk takes over as host of RTÉ’s coverage of rugby union. O’Herlihy covers the Premier League, Irish Internationals and The Champions League before dropping the Premier League in 2008. He continues to cover the Olympic Games and International Athletic Championships such as the European and World Athletics. He presents the first Rugby World Cup on RTÉ television in 1987 and, with Jim Carney, co-presents the first edition of The Sunday Game in 1979.
In 2012, while covering Chloe Magee‘s progress at the 2012 Summer Olympics O’Herlihy remarks that badminton was once considered “a mainly Protestant sport.” RTÉ subsequently receives a number of complaints, and while Magee criticises the remarks, the argument is made that the incident inadvertently reflected a complex historical reality.
O’Herlihy presents RTÉ Sport‘s coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, his ninth FIFA World Cup. He fronts 18 European Championships and FIFA World Cups for RTÉ, the last of which comes in 2014. This proves to be the final tournament with O’Herlihy at the helm. He retires at its conclusion and dies the following year.
O’Herlihy attends the 12th Irish Film & Television Awards on Sunday, May 24, 2015. He dies peacefully in his sleep at his home the following day at the age of 76 nearly a year after his retirement. He is survived by wife Hillary and daughters Jill and Sally. Giles, Brady and Dunphy appear on The Late Late Show in tribute later that week. At the time of his death O’Herlihy is working on a sports version of Reeling in the Years, which RTÉ immediately cancels.
Watson scores his first World Championship point in the 1974 Monaco Grand Prix, while driving for Goldie Hexagon Racing. He goes on to score a total of six points that season, driving a customer Brabham BT42-Ford modified by the team. He fails to score Championship points the following year, driving for Surtees Racing Organisation, Team Lotus and Team Penske. At the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix he has the chance to score his first win. He is in second position, behind Mario Andretti, until he has to stop in the pits for checks after his car starts to suffer vibrations. Andretti retires later, and after rejoining the race Watson finishes in eighth, his best Championship result in 1975. In non-Championship races he fares somewhat better, taking second place in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, and fourth at the BRDC International Trophy race at Silverstone.
Watson secures his first World Championship podium with third place at the 1976 French Grand Prix. Later that season comes his first victory, driving for Penske in the Austrian Grand Prix having qualified second on the grid. After the race he shaves off his beard, the result of a bet with team owner Roger Penske.
In the third race of the 1977 Formula One season, the South African Grand Prix, he manages to complete the race distance, scores a point, and takes his first ever fastest lap. His achievements are overshadowed, however, by the deaths of driver Tom Pryce and a track marshal, Jansen Van Vuuren. His Brabham-Alfa Romeo lets him down throughout the season but, despite this, he gains his first pole position in the Monaco Grand Prix and qualifies in the top ten no fewer than 14 times, often in the first two rows. Problems with the car, accidents, and a disqualification leads him to race the full distance in only five of the 17 races. The closest he comes to victory is during the French Grand Prix, where he dominates the race from the start only to be let down by a fuel metering problem on the last lap which relegates him to second place behind eventual winner Mario Andretti.
In 1978, Watson manages a more successful season in terms of race finishes, even out-qualifying and out-racing his illustrious teammate Niki Lauda on occasion. He manages three podiums and a pole, and notches up 25 points to earn the highest championship placing of his career to that point.
For 1979, Watson moves to McLaren where he gives them their first victory in over three years by winning the 1981 British Grand Prix and also securing the first victory for a carbon fibre composite monocoque F1 car, the McLaren MP4/1. Later in the 1981 season, the strength of the McLaren’s carbon fibre monocoque is demonstrated when he has a fiery crash at Monza during the Italian Grand Prix. He loses the car coming out of the high speed Lesmo bends and crashes backwards into the barriers. Similar accidents have previously proven fatal, but Watson is uninjured in an accident he later recalls as looking far worse than it actually was. After James Hunt‘s abrupt retirement after the Monaco Grand Prix in 1979, he is the only full-time competitive British F1 driver up until the end of his career.
Watson’s most successful year is 1982, when he finishes third in the Drivers’ Championship, winning two Grands Prix. In several races he achieves high placings despite qualifying towards the back of the grid. At the first ever Detroit Grand Prix in 1982, he overtakes three cars in one lap deep into the race on a tight, twisty track that is difficult to pass on. Working his way from 17th starting position on the grid, he charges through the field and scores a victory in the process. He goes into the final race of the season at Caesars Palace with an outside chance of the title, but he finishes five points adrift of Keke Rosberg and level on points with Didier Pironi.
A year later in 1983, Watson repeats the feat of winning from the back of the grid at the final Formula One race in Long Beach, another street circuit, starting from 22nd on the grid, the farthest back from which a modern Grand Prix driver had ever come to win a race. His final victory also includes a fight for position with teammate Niki Lauda, who had started the race 23rd, though Watson ultimately finishes 27 seconds ahead of his dual World Championship winning teammate.
At the end of the 1983 season, however, Watson is dropped by McLaren and subsequently retires from Formula One. Negotiations with team boss Ron Dennis reportedly break down when he asks for more money than dual World Champion Lauda is earning, citing having won a Grand Prix in 1983 where Lauda did not. Dennis instead signs Renault refugee Alain Prost for comparatively little. Watson does return for one further race two years later, driving for McLaren in place of an injured Lauda at the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, in which he qualifies 21st and places seventh in the race.
After retiring from active racing, Watson works as a television commentator for Eurosport, the BBC, Sky Sports’ Pay Per View, BSkyb, runs a race school at Silverstone and manages a racetrack. He also becomes the first man to ever test a Jordan Formula One car in 1990. He currently provides expert commentary on the GT World Challenge Europe alongside regular Blancpain television commentator David Addison.
(Pictured: John Watson at the 1982 Dutch Grand Prix)
Nicholas “Nicky” Rackard, Irish hurler whose league and championship career with the Wexford senior team spans seventeen years from 1940 to 1957, is born on April 28, 1922, in Killanne, County Wexford. He establishes many championship scoring records, including being the top championship goal-scorer of all time with 59 goals. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game.
Rackard is the eldest son of five boys and four girls born to Robert (Bob) Rackard and Anastasia Doran, who had been married in 1918. He is introduced to sport by his father who had hoped he would become a cricketer. His uncle, John Doran, won an All-Ireland medal as a Gaelic footballer with Wexford in 1918 and it is hurling and Gaelic football that Rackard develops a talent for.
Rackard plays his club hurling with his local Rathnure club and enjoys much success. He wins his first senior county title in 1948. It was Rathnure’s first ever championship triumph. Two years later in 1950 he captures a second county title, a victory which allows him to take over the captaincy of the county senior team for the following year. He wins his third and final county medal in 1955.
Rackard makes his debut on the inter-county scene when he is selected for the Wexford minor panel. He is just out of the minor grade when he is selected for the Wexford senior team in 1940. Over the course of the next seventeen years, he wins two All-Ireland medals as part of the Wexford hurling breakthrough in 1955 and 1956. He also wins four Leinster Senior Hurling Championship medals, one National Hurling League medal and one Leinster Senior Football Championship medal as a Gaelic footballer. He plays his last game for Wexford in August 1957.
By the late 1940s, Rackard is a regular in the full-forward line on the Leinster inter-provincial team. Success comes in the twilight of his career and he claims his sole Railway Cup medal in 1956.
Rackard’s brothers, Billy and Bobby, also experience All-Ireland success with Wexford.
In retirement from playing Rackard becomes involved in team management and coaching. It is with the Wexford senior team that he enjoys his greatest successes as a selector when he helps the team secure the 1968 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship title.
Rackard is most famous for his scoring prowess and is the all-time top championship scorer at the time of his retirement from hurling. His private life is marred by periods of excessive drinking, which had started during his university studies, and eventually develops into alcoholism. After quitting drinking completely in 1970, he travels the country as a counsellor with Alcoholics Anonymous. In an interview in The Irish Press in 1975, he details his life as a recovering alcoholic and becomes one of the first sportspeople to break the taboo of alcoholism in Ireland.
Rackard death from cancer at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin on April 10, 1976, sees a huge outpouring of grief amongst the hurling community. He is posthumously honoured by being named on the Hurling Team of the Century in 1984, however, he is sensationally omitted from the Hurling Team of the Millennium in favour of Ray Cummins. His scoring prowess has also earned him a place on the top ten list of all-time scoring greats. In 2005 the GAA further honours him by naming the Nicky Rackard Cup, the hurling competition for Division 3 teams, in his honour.
In 2006, a Wexford author, Tom Williams, writes a long-overdue biography of Rackard entitled Cuchulainn’s Son – The Story of Nickey Rackard. The same author also pens a now well-known song about Rackard many years earlier. It too is called Cuchulainn’s Son and has been recorded by various artists over the last 20 years and is a lament for the great sportsman.
In Wexford town, there is a statue to commemorate Rackard, erected in 2012.
Van der Flier’s preferred position is flanker, but he can play other positions if needed. He is commonly referred to amongst Leinster Rugby circles as “The Dutch Disciple.”
Van der Flier begins his professional career with the Leinster academy. During his time at the academy, he plays with the Leinster senior team, making his debut in October 2014 against Zebre Parma. It is announced in April 2015 that he has been awarded a senior contract with Leinster.
Van der Flier is named as the Ireland men’s XVs Players’ Player of the Year at the 2022 Rugby Players Ireland awards. He also wins the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland men’s player of the year award for the 2021-22 campaign.
O’Reilly is born on May 14, 1929, in Granard, County Longford, one of six children of James P. O’Reilly, shopkeeper and musician, and Catherine O’Reilly (née Donegan). The family moves to Dublin when he is nine years old. He is educated at the Christian Brothers school in James’s Street, where he excels at Gaelic football and develops an interest in drama and music. Toward the end of his schooldays he begins to participate in athletics, particularly the high jump, and is coached by Jack Sweeney, a leading athletics coach.
Always a man of many talents and interests, after leaving school O’Reilly combines working in the insurance business with an athletics career with Donore Harriers and evening drama classes. He wins several Irish titles, including the high jump, javelin, and decathlon, and sets a national record in the high jump. In 1954 he wins the British AAA Championships high jump title, beating the Commonwealth champion into second place, and setting a championship record of 6 ft. 5 in. (1.96 m). As a result, he secures a United States athletics scholarship to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he takes a degree in liberal arts, majoring in speech and drama. While at Michigan he improves his Irish record to 6 ft. 7 in. (2.007 m). His athletic career, however, is dogged with bad luck. He is selected to compete in the high jump at the European Athletics Championships in Bern, Switzerland, in 1954 but fractures an ankle in practice and fails to advance beyond the qualifying round. Although he competes at international level for ten years (1952–62), he is unlucky to never take part in the Olympic Games. A victim of sporting politics in 1952, as an NCAA athlete he is not entitled to compete. He is selected for the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne but is unable to attend when, at the last minute, his club cannot provide the finance for him to attend. Earlier that year he wins the Big Ten Conference high jump title.
On leaving Michigan O’Reilly moves to New York City, where he embarks on an acting career with the Irish Players, but he returns to Dublin in 1959, where, after brief spells working as a teacher and for an advertising agency, he applies to Ireland’s new television station for a position. He is looking for an acting job but ends up being offered a position as a presenter, joining Teilifís Éireann in 1961 as an announcer/interviewer. His relaxed and unobtrusive style appeals to viewers and his light entertainment show, The Life of O’Reilly, is the most popular programme on Irish television in the day, eclipsing even a fledgling The Late Late Show. It is as a sports presenter and commentator, however, that O’Reilly is primarily remembered, as he becomes the face of sport on RTÉ Television for many years. He attends five Olympic Games as a broadcaster, from Mexico in 1968 to Los Angeles in 1984, commentating on athletics and gymnastics. The first presenter of RTÉ’s flagship Saturday afternoon sports programme Sports Stadium in 1984, he continues to present it over its fourteen-year life, co-presenting the final programme in December 1997. He also is the regular presenter of RTÉ’s Wimbledon Championships tennis coverage for many years, the sports results on news broadcasts on TV and radio, and Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio, as well as commentating on individual sports such as ice-skating.
Although sports presenting is a natural progression for an athlete with his talents, O’Reilly’s real love is the arts. He continues to act, playing the part of Detective Inspector Michael Roarke in the classic children’s film Flight of the Doves (1971) with Ron Moody and Willie Rushton. He is also an accomplished singer and songwriter, and writes and performs his own one-man show, Across the Spectrum, comprising his own poems and songs in 1992. As well as a book of poems, The Great Explosion (1977), he releases a number of albums and tops the charts with his own song, “The Ballad of Michael Collins,” in 1981. He has a great admiration for Michael Collins and this leads to his becoming the first non-political figure to give the oration at the annual Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, in 1981. He also writes the song “Let the Nations Play” (1985), inspired by the boycotts of the Olympic games of 1980 and 1984, and the song is adopted as an anthem of the international Olympic movement.
Tall and slim in build, O’Relly is affable, modest, and self-deprecating in character. His relaxed style is no mere public affectation. He often exasperates colleagues by turning up just in time for broadcasts, and his ability to ad-lib is important in a live television environment. He once describes himself as “a champion high-jumper who could enunciate properly and keep my hair neatly combed” (The Irish Times, April 7, 2001). Despite the disappointments in his sporting career, he maintains that his other interests more than compensated. In relation to the Olympics he is quoted as saying, “If you asked me whether I’d have preferred to win a medal or have written the song, I’d honestly say I would have preferred to have written the song” (Longford Leader, April 6, 2001).
O’Reilly lives in Ranelagh, Dublin, and is married twice. He meets his first wife Linda Herbst (née Kuhl) in New York in the late 1950s. His second marriage is to Johanna Lowry. He has four children. After a lenghty illness, he dies on April 1, 2001, in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Fairview, Dublin. He is buried at Mount Venus cemetery, Rathfarnham.
(From: “O’Reilly, Brendan” by Jim Shanahan, Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie, October 2009)
Stelfox attends Rosetta Primary school, then continues his education at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. In 1976 he begins to study architecture at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). His first job is with the conservation architects, Consarc Design Group, which after a brief period of self-employment he rejoins in 1995. He becomes Chairman in 2002.
In 1993 Stelfox leads the Irish Everest expedition which contains climbers from both jurisdictions on the island and is supported by both Sports Council as well as private companies. When he reaches the peak of Everest via the North Ridge on May 27, 1993, he becomes the first person from Ireland to do so.
Stelfox is past Chair and current board member of Mountaineering Ireland. He also is the current Chair of Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland, a Belfast not-for-profit organisation who make it easier for people to responsibly enjoy the outdoors.
Devoted from his earliest years to riding horses, Eddery has little interest in school. He begins his career on his fourteenth birthday as an apprentice jockey in Ireland (1966–67) with the stable of Seamus McGrath. In 1967, he moves to England where he is apprenticed to Frenchie Nicholson until 1972. After riding for more than a season without success, he records his first win on April 24, 1969, at Epsom Downs Racecourse on a horse named Alvaro, trained by Major Michael Pope. Alvaro provides Eddery with six wins in succession during the 1969 season.
Eddery finishes the 1971 season as champion apprentice with seventy-one winners, and in 1972 has his first Derby ride, the 50–1 chance Pentland Firth, who finishes third behind Roberto and Rheingold. In 1972 he also has his first victory in a Group 1 race via Erimo Hawk, when awarded the Ascot Gold Cup following the disqualification of Rock Roi for interference.
Eddery rides for the Newmarket trainer Geoffrey Barling in 1972 before becoming the stable jockey for leading trainer, Peter Walwyn, later that year. For Walwyn, he wins his first two English classic races on Polygamy (Oaks) and Grundy (Derby) and is Champion Jockey in four consecutive seasons from 1974 to 1977. While under retainer with Walwyn, he clinches the first of these titles when just twenty-two years old, a record in the post-war era. In 1975, after winning the Irish Derby on Grundy, he rides the horse to a hard-fought victory over Bustino in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in what is described by many at the time as “the race of the century.”
The O’Brien–Eddery combination experiences controversial defeat in the 1984 Epsom Derby when Eddery rides then unbeaten 2000 Guineas Stakes-winner El Gran Senor and seems to be cruising to victory in the final furlong, only to be caught on the line and beaten by a short head by Secreto, trained by O’Brien’s son David. He later admits that he should have won the race, but when the horses in front of him fell away early in the straight he was left in front too soon and was unable to repel Secreto’s late challenge. He later wins the Irish Derby on El Gran Senor, beating the subsequent Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe winner, Rainbow Quest. During 1984, he also partners the O’Brien-trained and subsequent outstanding stallion, Sadler’s Wells, to two of his three Group 1 successes.
Rainbow Quest and Dancing Brave are both owned by the Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah, whose Juddmonte Farms is by then one of the world’s largest racing and breeding organisations. In 1987, Eddery becomes Abdullah’s retained jockey. Highlights of their association, which lasts until 1994, include Quest for Fame winning the 1990 Epsom Derby, and Zafonic, winner of the 1993 2000 Guineas Stakes.
Meanwhile, Eddery continues to win the jockeys’ championships, a task made easier by being retained by Juddmonte in England rather than commuting regularly to Ireland to ride for Vincent O’Brien. His highest seasonal total of wins is 209 in 1990, which is the first time a jockey has exceeded 200 since Sir Gordon Richards in 1952. His epic battle for the championship in 1987 with American Steve Cauthen is particularly intense, with Cauthen securing the title with 197 winners and Eddery coming close at 195. The title would have been shared at 196 winners apiece but for a successful objection by the rider of the third horse to the winner after the last definitive race between Eddery and Cauthen when they finished first and second, respectively. In 1988, Eddery regains the title with 183 winners from just over 480 rides, a remarkable strike rate of over thirty-eight per cent. He wins the championship for the eleventh and final time in 1996. His final classic win is on Silver Patriarch in the St. Leger Stakes of 1997.
Eddery rides major winners outside Europe and the United States, including Jupiter Island in the 1986 Japan Cup, and French Glory in the Canadian International Stakes. He teams up with Lester Piggott, Joe Mercer and French jockeys Freddie Head and Yves Saint-Martin to take part in a series of challenge races under the Ritz Club Challenge Trophy at Singapore and other Asian cities starting in 1983 for several years. His overall total of winners in the UK, Ireland, mainland Europe and overseas, exceeds 6,000. Although fiercely competitive on the racetrack, he is popular with fellow jockeys, trainers, owners and racegoers, who respond to his good-natured personality, courtesy and sense of humour.
Eddery has a distinctive riding style that is not classically elegant but undoubtedly effective and strong in a finish. He rides a number of truly outstanding racehorses including Dancing Brave, El Gran Senor and Pebbles, but maintains that the brilliant and undefeated Derby winner, Golden Fleece, is the greatest of all the horses he partnered throughout his career.
Eddery continues to ride into his fifties, finally retiring in 2003. He is appointed an honorary Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2005. He sets up an owners’ syndication business and takes out a training licence but has difficulty adjusting to life out of the saddle and becomes increasingly dependent upon alcohol. His training career meets with limited success, though he does train Hearts of Fire to win the Group 1 Gran Criterium of Italy in 2009.
Eddery marries Carolyn Mercer in November 1978. She is the daughter of flat jockey Manny Mercer, niece of jockey Joe Mercer, and granddaughter of jockey Harry Wragg. They have two daughters, Nichola and Natasha, and a son Harry. He has a son from an extramarital relationship, Toby Atkinson, who also becomes a jockey. The marriage with Carolyn breaks down in 2008 and the couple divorces in 2009.
Shortly after his marriage breaks down, Eddery begins living with Emma Owen, a former stable employee, at his 100-acre Musk Hill stud farm near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. He becomes progressively estranged from his children due to his continued alcoholism.
Eddery dies of a heart attack at the age of 63 on November 10, 2015. He leaves his £1.3 million estate to Emma Owen. His funeral takes place on December 8, 2015, and his remains are cremated at Oxford. Throughout his career, Eddery rode the winners of 4,632 British flat races, a figure exceeded only by Sir Gordon Richards and was UK Champion Jockey on eleven occasions and Irish Champion Jockey once. A plaque in his honour is unveiled by his children Nichola, Natasha and Harry at Ascot Racecourse in 2016, where he had been champion jockey at the Royal meeting on six occasions. He is inducted into the Qipco British Champions Series Hall of Fame in 2021, the second jockey after Lester Piggott to be so honoured.
(From: “Eddery, Patrick (Pat) James John” by P. Gerry McKenna, Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie, September 2022)
Blanchflower’s first appearance in a professional game is for Manchester United on November 24, 1951, against Liverpool, away at Anfield. He becomes a regular first team player in the 1953–54 season, when he plays in 27 out of 42 league games and scores 13 goals as an inside-forward.
Blanchflower helps the club win the league title in 1956 and again in 1957. Nicknamed “Twiggy” by his teammates, he is renowned for his versatility. He begins his career as a left-half before the emergence of Duncan Edwards in this position, at which time he switches to the forward positions. The Manchester United manager, Matt Busby, recognises his intelligent positioning sense and aerial power and chooses to play him at centre-half by the 1955–56 season, with John Doherty and Billy Whelan now competing for his former position. He faces fierce competition for the solitary centre-half place due to the presence of Mark Jones. He covers in goal in the 1957 FA Cup Final while Ray Wood receives treatment for an injury suffered in a collision with Peter McParland, who scores both of Aston Villa‘s goals as United loses 2–1. Blanchflower also plays in some of United’s first European Cup fixtures.
Blanchflower scores 27 goals during his time with Manchester United, most of them during his time as a forward.
On February 6, 1958, the Manchester United team that had travelled to Belgrade for the second leg of a European cup tie have their chartered plane stop in Munich to refuel. Weather conditions cause the plane to crash when the pilot attempts to take-off from Munich airport and 23 of the 44 people on board are killed. Blanchflower is severely injured, suffering from a fractured pelvis and arms and legs, and crushed kidneys, and his right arm is nearly severed. He is in hospital for two months and, although not a Catholic, is read the last rites but survives.
Blanchflower tries to return to football, but never makes a full recovery. Doctors advise him not to return to football because of fears he would damage his kidney and, a year later, he retires from football. The Munich air disaster means that he had played his last game of football when still only 24 years old, having earned 12 caps for Northern Ireland, played well over 100 times for Manchester United and won two league championship medals.
Blanchflower marries his wife Jean in 1956 and eventually pursues studies in finance and begins a career as an accountant. He later becomes an after-dinner speaker and is a regular on the after-dinner circuits until his death from cancer on September 2, 1998. He is 65 years old, and just two weeks prior to his death he attended the Munich air disaster testimonial match at Old Trafford.
He is survived by his three children; Krista, Senior (born 1958), Laurie (born 1961) and Andrew (born 1963), as well as his wife, Jean, who dies in 2002 following a long illness.
The Solomons come to Ireland from England in 1824. Solomons is the son of Maurice Solomons (1832–1922), an optician whose practice is mentioned in James Joyce‘s Ulysses. His grandmother, Rosa Jacobs Solomons (1833–1926), is born in Hull in England. His elder brother Edwin (1879–1964) is a stockbroker and prominent member of the Dublin Jewish community. His sister Estella Solomons (1882–1968) is a leading artist, and a member of Cumann na mBan during the 1916 Easter Rising. She marries poet and publisher Seumas O’Sullivan. His younger sister Sophie is a trained opera singer.
Solomons attends St. Andrew’s College, Dublin, where he is very interested in rugby. He earns ten international rugby caps for Ireland between 1908 and 1910. He studies medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, becomes a medical doctor, and is Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin from 1926 to 1933, surprising those who felt that a Jew would never hold the post. When his term ends in 1933, his name is intimately linked with that of the hospital when James Joyce writes in Finnegans Wake, “in my bethel of Solyman’s I accouched my rotundaties.” He serves as president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) in the late 1940s and practices from No. 30 Lower Baggot Street.
In a biography of Solomons he is described as “World famous obstetrician & gynaecologist, Rugby international, horseman, leader of Liberal Jewry & of Irish literary & artistic renaissance.”
Solomons is a friend of the founder of Sinn Féin and TD, Arthur Griffith. He contributes to the purchase of a house for Griffith. He is a founding member and the first president of the Liberal Synagogue in Dublin. He establishes a dispensary for Jewish women with Ada Shillman. In retirement he is inspector of qualifying examinations and visitor of medical schools in midwifery for the general medical council. A volume of memoirs is published in 1956. He is an art collector, including the works of Jean Cooke.
Solomons dies on September 11, 1965, at his home, Laughton Beg, Rochestown Avenue, Dún Laoghaire. The Bethel Solomons medal is awarded annually to an outstanding student in midwifery at the hospital.
Jimmy Magee, Irish sports broadcaster known as The Memory Man, is born on January 31, 1935, in New York City. He spends over half a century in sports broadcasting, and presents radio and television coverage of the Olympic Games since 1968 and the FIFA World Cup since 1966. By the time of his retirement he is the longest-serving sports commentator in the English-speaking world.
Magee is born to Patrick (Paddy) Magee and his wife Rose (née Mackin). The family returns to Ireland shortly after his birth. He and his three siblings are subsequently raised in Cooley, County Louth. As a child he is influenced by the sports commentary of the legendary Gaelic games broadcaster Michael O’Hehir. He recalls commentating as a seven-year-old for his next-door neighbour on a variety of imaginary games that the young Magee is also playing in. He also speaks of making up his own radio commentary in a field at a young age.
After being educated locally, Magee secures a full-time clerical post with Dundalk, Newry and Greenore Railway. While still working at the Railway he begins his broadcasting career. He starts out as a reporter for the Radio Éireann programme Junior Sports Magazine. Other contributors on the programme are Jim Tunney and Peter Byrne, former football correspondent with The Irish Times. On leaving his Railway job, he presents a number of sponsored radio programmes before concentrating on sport. He is a producer, presenter and script writer for Radio Éireann’s sponsored programmes in the 1950s and 1960s.
Magee and his wife Marie are married on October 11, 1955, and have five children: Paul, a soccer player with Shamrock Rovers F.C. (winning the League of Ireland Cup in 1977), who died of motor neuron disease, in May 2008, Linda (b. 1959), June (b. 1961), Patricia (b. 1962), and Mark (b. 1970).
From 1987 to 1998 Magee hosts Know Your Sport, a sports-themed quiz show, along with George Hamilton. His broadcasting career also sees him provide commentary for over 200 international football games, 30 European Cup finals, multiple Tour de France cycle races, World Athletic Championships and boxing. He also narrates numerous videos on sport in general such as The Purple and Gold, Meath Return to Glory, etc.
Magee launches his memoir, Memory Man, in 2012. Some of his one-liners in commentaries have become famous or infamous, what are affectionately known in the broadcasting industry as Colemanballs after the famed commentating clangers of BBC broadcaster David Coleman.
In the emotionally trying year of 1989, Magee’s mother and wife die within months of each other, Marie dying at the young age of 54.
Magee dies on September 20, 2017, after a short illness. Many tributes are made to him including TaoiseachLeo Varadkar who says, “His commentaries were legendary and based on a breadth of sporting knowledge that was peerless.” RTÉ Head of Sport Ryle Nugent says, “It’s hard to put it into words, the man meant an inordinate amount to so many people, I think he was the soundtrack to many generations.”