*Damien Carmody. 

WEST CLARE is expected to come out in force for a tournament in memory of Damien Carmody this Saturday.

On what would have been Damien’s fortieth birthday, a gaelic football tournament will take place at Shanahan McNamara Park in Doonbeg in memory of the Moveen man and is anticipated to become an annual event.

Action will commence with Doonbeg playing Naomh Eoin at 12pm, this is followed by the meeting of O’Currys against St Senan’s Kilkee at 1pm before an U13 game takes centre stage at 2pm with the final scheduled for a 3pm throw-in.

Damien died on January 21st 2021 at the age of thirty six in a tragic farm accident that occurred in Doonaha. His loss has been keenly felt around the Loop Head Peninsula but most particularly by his wife Elaine, sisters Ann, Lourda, Collette and Catriona, brothers Matthew and Michael, extended family and wide circle of friends.

Michael Curtin & Damien Carmody.

Football was one of Damien’s greatest love affairs, he was captain of the O’Currys team to win the Clare IFC in 2012, the last time the club won the intermediate championship. Michael Curtin who presented the Talty Stores Cup on that jubilant occasion twelve years ago previously told The Clare Echo, “It was the greatest honour I ever had to present the cup to Damien, a fellow Moveen man and a neighbour, it was one of my great honours ever being involved with the club”.

Organised by Damien’s family, his wife Elaine and the O’Currys club, the tournament is set to draw a big crowd to Doonbeg and is done to acknowledge his “love of the GAA”. While it be an outing to remember an immensely popular figure, it will also be an emotional occasion, his older brother Matthew admitted, “There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by that you don’t mention him, there is always some fella in the farming industry that does be talking about him, people are still saying ‘sorry for your loss’, it’s three years later and they are still sympathising, I suppose it’s because it was a COVID funeral, that is what he had so he didn’t get the three or four hours where people would come to the church and pay their respect but still people lined the ditches from Hurler’s Cross in Limerick all the way to Moveen, some amount of people came out. On the day of his funeral, a fella came from Loughrea, he was turned back six times and he said on the seventh time he wasn’t going to abandon it, he was a good friend”.

On and the off the field, Damien was an exemplary clubman, Matthew told The Clare Echo. “He was brought up in a footballing family, he was the captain of the 2012 team on the day they won the intermediate final for O’Currys, he won at every age-group up along, he won two intermediate finals, he was a manager of the U16 O’Currys/Naomh Eoin with the late Ger Crotty and he also managed the U21s for four years. His teammates would always say he’d have your back on and off the field, Damien always had a big smile on his face, he played with the Clare Juniors for a year or two. He was a good family man and husband to Elaine, he was a good dairy farmer, he won a dairy award in 2020 for his milk. He achieved a lot in his time that he was with us”.

“It is a dark hole, there isn’t a day that goes by that someone doesn’t say something about him, as time goes by you have to learn to live life without them and that is just it, there is no doubt about it that it is hard but it is what it is, life goes on, nobody can stop it and it comes to everyone’s door. As a family you have to stay going, we’re all family men, brothers and sisters we all have families, we are a good family, we try to make the occasions as good as we can,” he added.

Prior to his death, Damien was milking 45 cows and herding 90 animals on the family farm in Moveen, a commitment his older brother Matthew has taken on in addition to his own farm in Carrigaholt. The pair and their brother Michael shared a bond through football and farming. “As the three brothers we were always together, where you’d see you would see three,” Matthew remarked.

Their father Matthew better known as Sonny brought two of them to the All-Ireland football final every year while the following week two other siblings were brought to the Listowel races. “We used to go up on the Saturday and go to the Kilmacud 7s, we’d stay in the Ormond Hotel and go from there on Sunday morning to mass, up O’Connell Street for the enjoyment of it and onto Croke Park. There was no phones in them times so we had to be under the clock at Clery’s, that’s where we met, if you were told to be there at 6pm you were there for 6pm no matter who’s legs were getting sore from walking. They were different times but they were great times and easier times, nowadays there is expectation that is too high. They were good days, my father used to bring two of us to Croke Park and two more were brought to the Listowel races the following week. My father used to always head to Kerry for the county semi-finals and finals, we were always brought down there so we knew more about Kerry than Clare. As the youngest boy of the house, he was always a little bit more spoilt, it isn’t easy to do them days when they come by”.

Speaking fondly of his younger brother, Matthew noted how Damien had a love of the land and the GAA. Their parents Sonny and Maura were married for forty years. “They raised seven of us on a forty cow dairy farm, everyone helped in and once you came to the age to go working you went working and that was it, no more than Damien, good neighbours and good friends. Moveen isn’t the same without him”.

Sonny’s passion for the GAA was recalled in a story Declan Walsh told Matthew following Damien’s death. “Football was always played at the field by the house, next thing Declan was in goals, the two boys were out the field playing soccer and whatever way Declan looked back he saw Sonny coming, he shouted out the field ‘kick that ball in high’, if my father saw you kicking soccer it went against the rule of thumb so it was as much to say soccer time is over. There’s been a lot of stories, things talked about and things you didn’t know, it is what it is, life goes on and it has to go on”.

This love of the GAA has been passed on the generations. “We’re big GAA people, Ann is in Lissycasey, she is big into the GAA, her son Aidan Weaver is on the Clare U17s, he is going well and Mike has two great boys playing away with the Western Gaels no more than my own two boys, Catriona has two boys below in Churchtown in Cork who are big into the football, Lourda’s girl above in Sligo is playing with the Sligo ladies. My other sister Collette is in Moyasta and her daughter Grace is playing with the Clare U16s so the blood is in the genes, you can’t stop that”.

Drawing players from Carrigaholt, Doonaha and Moveen, O’Currys is well-known as a tight-knit club, were Damien still alive he’d still be lining out with their intermediate team who are managed by Dinny McMahon. “In 2021 he had three weeks training done before he died, he was a great man to train, once the 7th of January came the shorts were back, he used to do five miles along the Coast Rd and down across. My mother said to him one time ‘did you get a lift this time’ because he was a little bit faster than normal, he just answered with a big smile or a laugh, that was Damien, he was good to train, whatever he put his mind to he just stuck at it until he got it done. He took over the farm when our father died, he ploughed on with it and got a lot done, a new slatted house, a new state of the art parlour done recently before he died, he was a good dairy farmer, a good man on the land, he used to fit it all in ‘it’s done when it’s done and that’s it’, that was the way he was”.

Punctuality may not have been a strong point for Damien as he operated on what he called “Moveen time”, this was most notable when it came to club meetings. “He was in the finance committee and I don’t know where he got all the time but he was always late and he used to call it Moveen time, you show when you show and that is it. The meeting would be half over by the time he would come but he’d have the jist of it going home”.

Indeed ‘Moveen time’ was not the reason why Damien didn’t get a starting spot on the O’Currys team when they played Coolmeen in the 2020 championship but it’s a game that stands out for Matthew. “The best one that I can think of was in 2020 against Coolmeen, he only came on as a sub that day, I don’t know what was wrong that day, they were down two or three points when he came on. He struck a shoulder on Cathal O’Connor’s brother when he came on, Damien was 5ft’6 at the most but he was pound for pound, he struck him a shoulder, he nailed him but fairly and squarely right in front of the crowd and got a big roar, your man didn’t like it so he got up and retaliated and ended up getting a black card or whatever it was at the time. Damien won the next ball and kicked it over the bar, he got another score after that, he turned around to the line and said ‘I think I’ll take my number ten jersey the next day’. He played in a lot of good intermediate finals and at underage. He was a good manager, they won the U16 as O’Currys/Naomh Eoin, his wisdom of the game was unreal, he was a good man around it no more than the whole family like Mike is over a lot of teams with the Western Gaels”.

Similar shoulders may be witnessed this weekend. “People in West Clare are nice and genuine people, everyone will work together, there will be 100 players or more there, if one or two come along with them you will have a fine crowd. Between the four clubs there is rivalry there, it’s a community day. We’d like all the parishes to have a good community day, it is about the parishes at the end of the day, all the parishes know and remember Damien, it will be much appreciated if all parishes can support their own and meet us in Doonbeg”.

Damien Carmody on his wedding day.

Championship resulted in ‘total commitment’ from Damien. “He would go off the drink, he never smoked, he was a big Lucozade drinker and a twix man, if you opened the door of the van a twix and a Lucozade would fall out on top of you. Once GAA came alcohol was set aside but when he could celebrate he would celebrate it, that is the way it should be,” Matthew reflected.

His death was just five days after he and Elaine celebrated their first wedding anniversary. The memories from that day are even more special to the Carmody and Marrinan families now. “It was a big day out, any day you go out with your family is a big day out, of all families. Damien was a big man of the O’Currys club, the rivalry with Kilkee and he married a Kilkee woman, it was a brilliant day, his best man was Eoin Murray, they were top men and well able to speak, great men. The family days are the best days because when you get to meet up they are brilliant,” Matthew said.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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