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Sport editor's warm tribute to Dave Murphy, Castlebar and Kilkenny

Story by John Melvin

Wednesday, 5th April, 2017 6:23pm

Sport editor's warm tribute to Dave Murphy, Castlebar and Kilkenny

A proud moment for Dave Murphy (left) when he was presented with a replica of the Liam McCarthy Cup by Paddy McGovern, president, Castle Inn Sporting & Social Club, Castlebar.

WHEN Dave Murphy passed, the universe weeped for one of its greats had fallen.

This was a beautiful line which was included in the eulogy prepared by Dave's wife, Loretta, and read at his funeral mass at the Church of the Holy Rosary, Castlebar.

Dave Murphy was not just a man of the world, he was a true child of the universe. A man who was thinking otuside the box long before the phrase entered modern terminology. He was thinker, a philosopher, and the more he thought, the more fascinated he became with his subject matter.

At one moment his mind could be back on the hurling fields of his native Slieve Rue, or he could be assesing the threat global warming was posing to the polar bear population in the Antartic or he might be billions of miles away in the cosmos, explaining the black hole and if a superior life force exists.

Dave, like the rest of us, may have been only a mere speck in the general context of the universe but he left a lasting impression on those who met him. It says much about the man - who was creative, inquisitive, intelligent and multi-talented - that there was general agreement among his peers that he had a great love and respect for both humans and animals who shared our planet.

He was a problem-solver who loved nothing more than the challenge the job, first as an electrician with the ESB and later as a motor rewinder and mechanical engineer, presented to him.

He could be seen regularly making trips to Lawless Glass, Murphy's Stainless Steel or Stanley Jackson with his little black bag of tools, like a doctor on his rounds, and, to my knowledge, all of Dave's patients were well looked after.

There is a story told about Lawless Glass who had a new state of the art high tech machine for precision glass cutting imported from the continent. Norway, I think.

Anyway, the machine only ran for a while before problems arose. The engineers in Norway were called but the problem couldn't be solved over the phone. It would mean sending a team over to investigate.

“Give me a look at it,” Dave told the boys in Lawless Glass one day when he noticed the machine, which had been idle for over a week. It was felt that this complicated machine would be way beyond the remit of even the great Daithí. All I can say is there was no need to bring over any engineers. I can still see the smile of satisfaction on Dave's face when he told the story.

He loved a challenge. The reward was solving it. Okay, the money was good too, and important.

Dave was born in 1947 in Slieve Rue, Co. Kilkenny. His birth place ensured the black and amber would form a central part in his life, if not shape it; a passport to the hurling hierarchy where knowledge was paramount.

We mere football mortals could only look on in awe and listen to the hurling men discuss whether Christy Ring was better than Mick Mackey or who was the best hurler ever to don the Kilkenny jersey. We in Mayo were football men from a different planet than the hurlers.

When you are blessed with such riches as Kilkenny were during the reign of Brian Cody in particular, picking the best is akin to deciding which of your own chidlren you love the most - all are loved equally.

Dave played hurling with his club, and while he wasn't one to boast about his prowess as a hurler, many a battle scene was painted in the mind over a pint and the great deeds of the men from Slieve Rue retold with pride and passion.

If Dave's hurling ability was anything near his capacity to argue a point, then he must have been a formidable opponent.

While hurling blood coursed through his veins he took a deep interest in Mayo football and was troubled as to why Mayo had failed to win an All-Ireland during his time in a county - which was close on 30 years. Mind you, no more than myself, he didn't come up with the answer.

But hurling took centre stage. Particularly back in the day when Jim Dwyer, another great hurling man, who has since moved back to his native Tipperary, ran The Brown Cow, a pub steeped in Irish traditional music, lively conversation, great banter and no end of great characters who filled our lives with such colour and joy.

It was his favourite watering hole when he arrived in Castlebar and signficanlty it was where he was to find the woman who was to make the latter period of his life very happy and fulfilled - Loretta Dyar - whom he married and set up on oasis with on the Westport Road, where his love of gardening was to blossom to life and where the birds and bees became part of the family. They had many happy years together and it was clear this was one strong bond that would endure to the very end.

But there were many sides to Dave Murphy apart from sport. He had a great love of Irish music (he loved the Kilkennys) and nature, and his interest in science and the cosmos provided many hours of fascinating conversation. Dave wasn't happy to know why things worked. He needed to know how they worked.

He was the supreme optimist, alway seeing the glass half-full and if it was half-empty he wouldn't be wondering whose round it was. He was extraordinarily generous. He cared little for the trappings of life. He was more preoccupied with living and enjoying the company of others.

He had a keen eye and a sharp wit, and he loved nothing better than to have a conversation with the older generation to glean from them the knowledge of the life and times they lived in.

He simply loved life and life loved him back. He had many friends, many good friends too, as was evidenced by the send off he got, but the void that has been left in the life of his wife Loretta and his family will only be filled by the memories. They were mostly good ones.

So Dave has left us, a bit suddenly in the end, but that is the way he and his family would have wanted it. A long battle would have been a cruel end for a man who embraced life and the riches it provided in terms of self-fulfilment.

Apart from his engaging company, what many of his friends will miss most is the passionate rendering of 'The Rose of Mooncoin’, a song so close to his heart and always sang on All-Ireland hurling final day, invariably followed by 'The Galway Shawl' and maybe 'De Banks', depending on who Kilkenny had beaten in the final.

He had a great voice. He was a great character. A true child of the univese who admired and loved all that was around him and beyond. Take it away Daithí.


The Rose of Mooncoin


How sweet 'tis to roam by the sunny Suir stream,

And hear the dove's coo 'neath the morning's sunbeam.

Where the thrush and the robin their sweet notes combine

On the banks of the Suir that flows down by Mooncoin.

Flow on, lovely river, flow gently along.

By your waters so sweet sounds the lark's merry song.

On your green banks I'll wander where first I did join

With you, lovely Molly, the Rose of Mooncoin.

Oh Molly, dear Molly, it breaks my fond heart,

To know that we two for ever must part

But I'll think of you, Molly, while sun and moon shines

On the banks of the Suir that flows down by Mooncoin...

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