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A historical walk in Newmarket-on-Fergus has recalled the card playing skills of the President of Ireland during his youth.

It was on Peter Higgins’ land near Patsy Counihans in Ballinacragga that his nephew, later the President of Ireland often played cards.

On Sunday 9th October, the Two President’s Road also known as The Old Road in Ballycar echoed to the clip clop of the two Paddys (horses) pulling a coach driven by Patsy’s grandnephew Sean Kilkenny.

Lorcky Enright followed the innkeeper custom by greeting a group of walkers to his farmhouse, once the inn of John Spring. It was the starting point of the walk which John Ryan introduced.

When Latoon Bridge was built in 1785, the main Limerick to Ennis road changed direction and shed three Irish Miles by including Newmarket on Fergus, which was up to then a cul de sac.

Access to the town was through the Old Ballycar Road, Boher Na gCrann and Lisduff. Benjamin Sargent opened an inn where the Tradaree is and his son John later opened another one directly on the route, now no. 38 Limerick Road residence of Eugene Callinan and Gerard McMahon. Spring shut his inn on Christmas Eve 1800.

Speakers on the walk were Máire Ni Ghruagáin on the meaning of Knockcroghery, Sheila McGrath on the Colpoys, Bennett, Fitzgerald and Liddy homes, and the tragic deaths of her own O’Leary relatives in a well at Fitzgeralds. Con Woods outlined the career of Edward Bennett second president of the GAA and the striking achievement of his daughter Elsie joint first woman clerk of the Board of Guardians which resulted in her being invited to join the Suffragette movement.

Mai Russell updated the state of occupation on the Old Road and Lady Coffey set the atmosphere with her appeal to the coachman to be brought instead to Uniacke’s in Crusheen, a request he denied. Mary Woods recorded and Annabelle from Kilmaleery and Australia marvelled at the treasure trove of historical information.

The walks will continue in November and December.

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