Lament for Mick Mackey


Poet Críostóir Mac Gearailt penned the words of this song in tribute to one of Ireland's greatest sportsmen, the mighty Mick Mackey from Ahane, County Limerick. Mick Mackey played hurling for his native county in the 1930s and '40s, and the county depended on him to bring home the McCarthy Cup, the prize for winning an All-Ireland championship. Like many before me, I had the honour of shaking Mr. Mackey's hand. My father had introduced me to him when they worked together for the ESB, the Electricity Supply Board of Ireland.

In addition to Mick Mackey, the Limerick teams back in the 1930s and '40s that won All-Ireland championships had among them on the field men like Paddy Clohessy and the star goalkeeper Paddy Scanlon, who, as the song says, was 'defiant in the goal'. I got to know this great County Limerick goalkeeper and had the special honour of sitting beside him on a number of occasions when both of us travelled on the Killaloe-to-Limerick bus that wound its way through Castleconnell, where Mr. Scanlon would board. We talked at length about hurling and about other greats such as the mighty Christy Ring from Cloyne in County Cork. I have always had a fascination with the game's goalkeepers and, with my encouragement, Paddy would discuss the great ones. Doctor Tommy Daly from County Clare was many times mentioned in our discussion, as was the legendary Tony Reddin, who played in goal for counties Galway and Tipperary. I mentioned to Paddy Scanlon that I knew Tony Reddin: Tony lived in Banagher, County Offaly, and he often visited my sister's home, where I had the honour of chatting with him. Paddy Scanlon's praise for Tony Reddin was like that of many others, regarding him as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

Today, May 24, 2015, it is by some strange coincidence that I write these few lines whilst listening via Internet radio to counties Limerick and Clare battling it out in Semple Stadium, Thurles, County Tipperary, in the first round of the Munster Hurling Championship. This stadium has over the years established itself as the leading venue for Munster hurling finals and a field where other Limerick teams of the past paraded with pride before capacity crowds. And so, you stalwart heroes of the 1930s and '40s, Mick Mackey, Paddy Scanlon, and Paddy Clohessy, I somehow know that your hearts would be filled with pride were you to watch the Limerick team of today running up and down the pitch in Thurles, as they hopefully make their way to Croke Park, the stadium in Dublin where the All-Ireland hurling finals are played each September, to reclaim the McCarthy Cup.

Ann Mulqueen sings with pride Críostóir Mac Gearailt's song about Ann's neighbour, the great Mick Mackey, and the giants of hurling of days now long gone. A lot of ramblings, one might say, but memories worth remembering! The ramblings themselves are part of an Irish tradition whenever our national game of hurling is discussed. And always looking for a win, the hurler on the ditch could be heard desperately shouting, 'Come on, let the game begin! Never mind the ball, play the man!'

Thank you, Críostóir, for your lovely song and for permission to use it here. Thank you Ann, and thank you Micheál Ó Conghaile and Cló Iar-Chonnachta for permission to use this recording, along with the two other songs that Ann beautifully sang for us in this collection. All of the songs were taken from her CD Mo Ghrása Thall na Déise.

P.S. I, too, played in Croke Park, but not with a hurley!


Séamus Connolly
Boston College Libraries
Some transcriptions are based on historical source recordings. More info.

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Mulqueen, Ann (vocals) and Mac Gearailt, Críostóir (composer), “Lament for Mick Mackey,” The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, accessed July 16, 2024,