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Article from the Grange Parish Book suggested for reading this week (week 19)


Tony Barry - In My Father's Time

This week's (week 19) article from the Grange Book was written by Mike (Michael) Barry - a tribute to his parents, Tony and Patricia (Addie) Barry. Tony, aged 95, passed away in March 2018. The first anniversary of his passing occurs around this time. Patricia continues to live at the family home in Lower Grange. Mike penned his tribute with great affection and detail with a humorous vein running all-through his story. Consequently, the article is not only informative but entertaining as well.

Tony acquired his farm in Lower Grange in 1958 and he and Patricia were married in 1960. Tony had a huge passion for farming and spent many years improving and developing his land, with the help of his sons and daughters when they became old enough, and with great assistance from Paddy Sheehan who worked on the farm for years. Paddy (RIP) was a great friend to the Barry family.

Addie developed a renowned farm guest house at the family home, and she operated a successful business for many years. Addie's patrons came repeatedly from far and wide to experience her great hospitality and culinary prowess.

Tony Barry, as well as being a superb family man and farmer, had other strings to his bow - he was a successful show-jumping horse trainer and greyhound racing trainer. As a trainer, he knew well how to keep critical information from the 'bookies' so as to maximise the odds offered for his runners in various races. Mike told a number of fascinating and humorous tales about Tony's strategies and coups or attempted coups.

Tony was a great soccer supporter - of Limerick in the League of Ireland and of Holycross AFC. Some of Tony's 'interventions' at a number of soccer matches, as described by Mike in his article, point to Tony having been a full-blooded partisan, not merely a passive follower! He travelled far and wide to support his teams.

Tony was a dedicated and skilled card-player. He and Paddy Sheehan played '45' at Reardon's public house in Holycross on many a Sunday evening. Tony also played bridge.

The following are a few extracts from Mike's article:

"The farm at Bridge House, Grange was in the ownership of one Gerald Barry, a first cousin of Tony’s father, Joseph. He had decided to sell up in 1958 and the relations from Gortacloona put in a bid. A deal was finally done, and Tony Barry was now the proud owner of a farm of 186 statute acres. The farmhouse and land sit on the banks of the Camogue River, only a few miles downstream from Tony’s place of birth [Knockainey], with the house being over 100 years old at the time of purchase.

The farm back then was not the farm it is today. Almost every field was badly waterlogged with no underground drainage of any sort. Thus began many years of digging and forming underground stone drains throughout the length and breadth of the farm, which joined to the main ditches or dykes, which separated field from field. The stone drainage system eventually solved all the problem locations, which were numerous back in the early days."

"Tony was and is known to the present day as a decent card player. Obviously, playing cards at home from the earliest age gave him a good schooling, which was to stand him in good stead in later card life. Sunday nights saw games of ‘45’ at Reardon’s Pub in Holycross. Tony’s sons still remember being taken out for the Sunday night bottle of red lemonade to watch Tony and friends do battle. The ‘game of nine’ card school was usually made up of Paddy Sheehan, Jack Barry, the Flavins and Gleesons from Grange and Fedamore and the Carrolls from Lough Gur. One was as good a player as the next and the money went full circle over a few months play, more often than not."

"As already mentioned, Tony was a Limerick soccer supporter even before the move to Grange. In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, the Saturday night visit to the Markets Field dog track was followed by a Sunday afternoon trip to the same venue for Limerick soccer matches. The Markets Field was the Barry Sunday ‘Mecca’ and the form of Kevin Fitzpatrick, Al Finucane, Joe O’Mahony, Brendan Storan, Johnny Walsh, Ger Duggan, Des Kennedy and many others was studied and analysed week in week out. Tim O’Donnell was another Grange ‘soccer head’ that the Barrys would encounter each week at the games. Tim did not confine his support to home games; attending many away games also each season; unlike the Barry’s, who were ‘Markets Field only’ men. Pat Clancy and Paddy Wallace were other Grangemen one might occasionally encounter."

"On one occasion, a visiting manager with a Limerick City side made the near-fatal mistake of coaching his team from the ‘Holycross’ sideline. His constant shouting started to annoy the ears of many. Tony and Seamus somehow managed to upend him head-over-heels, or maybe heels-over-head (they tripped him as he reversed along the line!). With pride severely dented, he arose rapidly ready for revenge, only to be faced by the two Grange ‘John Waynes’ with fists clenched. Before anything more serious could ensue, some younger Holycross supporters jumped in to rescue the misfortunate manager lest he came to some serious harm. Realising his mistake (and now realising his place) he sheepishly walked to the correct side of the field to continue his managerial tasks."

"On this occasion, the famed Sligo Rovers were the opposition. Eamonn Sweeney, a journalist and die-hard Sligo Rovers fan published a book about his favourite club in 1997 called 'There’s Only One Red Army', and on this particular day the Red Army had a sizeable number of troops in support. It was also obvious that many of the troops had a little (or a lot) too much to drink on the journey down to Limerick. And they were in boisterous mood and more. A large fracas developed in the main stand and slowly the Rovers ‘fans’ in question made their way to the Popular Side, shouting loudly as they walked along the dog track. They passed the section where the Barrys were standing behind the track wall and were giving abuse to all and sundry but soon passed on.

A few minutes later, like an apparition in the desert, a large force of Gardai suddenly appeared on the track some fifty yards further on with battens drawn. The fearful ‘red army’ ran for dear life back in the direction they had come from. Most were running forward but with heads turned backwards looking to ensure that they were getting safely away from the chasing Gardai. Which they were not!

Without any announcement to anyone, Tony duly jumped onto the track and threw a few haymaker punches at the biggest ‘red army’ offenders that Muhammad Ali himself would have been proud of. And without further delay, Tony again quickly jumped back into the terrace, lest he be mistaken by the Guards for a Sligo fan. He then proceeded to watch in safety as the Guards finished off on the track what he had started himself. For Tony’s two watching sons – seriously memorable!"

"The bookies in those days were very careful if Tony Barry had a dog in a race. All were razor sharp in all things dog and all things gambling. The battle of wits with them on a weekly basis saw many casualties, but Tony Barry and associates had more than their fair share of luck, due in large part to Tony’s ability as a trainer.

One ploy used on occasion to put the bookies on the wrong foot involved Ger Barry walking casually to a major bookie, a few minutes before the off, and placing a small bet on an entirely different dog. The bookies would then deduce that Tony Barry’s dog had no chance. If he had, Ger Barry would not be betting on a greyhound owned by somebody else. With twenty or thirty seconds to go before the traps opened, the real gamble would take place, when a synchronised line of ‘the trusted’ would attack the entire line of bookies in a manoeuvre of military-like precision. As the traps opened, the bookies would be refusing to accept any more bets on Barry’s dog from those who were too slow in the initial assault (there were always a few!). More often than not and with over sixty winners to Tony’s name, such planned occasions resulted in a reasonably high level of success."

There is much, much more to be read in Mike's article.

Mike's article, Tony Barry - In My Father's Time, may be read in full HERE.

Next week (week 20) we will suggest another article for reading.

Kind Regards to All.