Loop Head

Clare 1971:


GAA Ban the Practice of ‘Battering’:

County Clare is widely known for having a soft spot for traditional Irish music. Whether it’s Cruises pub in Ennis or the infamous Friel’s of Miltown Malbay, you can almost always guarantee a whole host of talented musicians from across the country strutting their stuff. Set dancing is a close relative of the Irish traditional music ‘session’. Although untimely and unreliable, he eventually turns up causing great commotion and excitement amongst the crowd. In 1971, the GAA imposed a ban on a type of set dancing in Clare known as ‘Battering’.  This tradition proliferated in Quilty at the time and observers held great admiration for its required skillset and application. Battering was a modification to the Caledonian set dance in which a treble clicking of the heel to each beat took place. After an RTE investigation on the banning of the dance in County Clare, locals were astounded at the derision and guile of the GAA. They could see no alternative to the highly inventive and rhythmic flow of Battering. Despite the banning of battering in 1971, the tradition secretly continued and set dancers from Quilty won the county championships by implementing the technique. This shows a similarity of strength in Irish traditions such as set dancing in County Clare over fourty years ago. Very little has changed!

Clare Inter-County Soccer Roots:

Clare soccer lags behind the larger, more highly populated counties when it comes to national competitions. Although laden with talent from schoolboy level to junior, the like of Dublin and Cork always propose a daunting challenge. In 1967 Clare established its first Youths soccer team, emerging into the inter-county platform with a chip on its shoulder. As little as four years later in 1971, Clare won their first Inter-County Youths Cup. Several players from Ennis club Hermitage FC were the backbone of the team, Stephen Kenny captaining the team to victory against the Athletic Union League in Dublin. Noel Ryan who eventually went on to play for Cork Celtic and enjoyed many years in the League of Ireland was deemed one of the star performers of the 1970/71 campaign. Ryan put two away against Waterford in the semi-final and managed to score Clare’s second in the final. Since then we have seen an exponential growth in the popularity of Clare Soccer with the advent of new clubs and better training facilities. For decades Clare soccer has battled against representatives of GAA clubs banning the practice of participating in both GAA and soccer considered a ‘foreign sport’.

Loop Head Lighhouse:

In a time before the invention of the automobile, the transport of goods and services had a very different feel. Ships, horseback and steam powered trains dominated the market at the time. For the modern citizen of the world these forms of transport are something that rarely crosses our minds. We take for granted the quick, comfortable service afforded by taxis and uber in larger cities. The importance and function of lighthouses such as the one located in Loop Head have little significance to the modern commuter. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in West Clare, the lighthouse was built in 1670 to accommodate ships looking to dock at night as they made their way up the stormy coast. Strategically positioned, the lighthouse has a line of sight extending all the way out to Kerry Head and Dingle and all the way up along the Clare coast. Originally, the light house constituted of a cottage where the light keeper lived with his family. Inside the cottage there was a stone stairway which led up to a coal burning brazier which kept the tower alight. In 1971, the physically taxing duties of burning coal were redesigned and the lighthouse was officially powered by electricity. The Loop Head lighthouse and the remains of the cottage are open to the public in the months of summer. It is undoubtedly an interesting piece of Clare history, predating modern times!

Missing a Fortune:

To end on an ironic note, in 1971 a farmer died leaving a will of over 333,000 euros. Martin Howley was from Murroughloohy South, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. It is common practice for lost or misplaced wills to make their way to the Dublin Probate Office. This case was no different to the countless others and the will was recently lodged where it will be looked at by the office. Imagine knowing that a piece of paper containing hundreds of thousands was stowed away where you live!

For more information relating to Reeling In The Years contact: cianobroin@clareecho.ie

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