Thomond Park gates a monument to grief

The raucous roar of Thomond Park which has serenaded rugby warrior Anthony Foley over the years was silenced yesterday.

The front gates of the stadium became a monument to grief, showered with flowers, flags, jerseys, caps, and scarves.

The numbed Munster faithful came to pay their respects. Dan Mooney, 32, an air traffic controller at Shannon, summed up the mood of Limerick’s rugby fraternity.

“I am a die-hard Young Munster man,” Dan said. 

“But today you can be Young Munster, Garryowen, Bohs, Shannon, Old Crescent; we gather to mourn a great Limerick rugby man. We are fierce to compete on the field against one another, but at times like today we are one rugby community in Limerick and Anthony Foley was a leader of that community and its great heritage. He was a clubman, a Limerickman, a Munsterman, and a great Irishman in rugby.”

As the main gates of Thomond Park blossomed into a sorrowful tribute, Jonathan Ryan from Monaleen said: “I’m a Bohs man. When I heard the news I wanted to come over to Thomond Park. I decided to bring flowers. And when I walked out into my garden I saw my last few red roses of the year. It was poignant. I placed them together and brought them to put at the gate at Thomond Park. Anthony Foley was a leader on and off the pitch and epitomised all that was good in rugby.”

There was many a tear shed in Limerick’s rugby pubs last night.

Many of the Shannon RFC stalwarts gathered in Jerry Flannery’s on Catherine St.

Jerry, father of former Ireland and Munster star Jerry Jr said: “Jerry is over with the team and he made contact with his partner Katy. I’m in the business 48 years and I can say this is the saddest day I’ve stood behind the counter here in my pub. We have always been a strong Shannon RFC house and Anthony and his dad Brendan are old friends.”

Former Shannon RFC president Gerry Ryan said a group of the club members had arranged to meet at Jerry Flannery’s to watch the game.

“We couldn’t believe the news. Some of the lads are gone home. It’s hard to take. We lost Colm Tucker three years ago and he was only 60. But to think Anthony is gone in his early 40s...”

Last night, Limerick tried to come to grips with a great loss. 

In the coming days, it will recall many great stories of many great days, and in particular the day in 2006 when Anthony Foley came home with the Heineken Cup.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Related Articles

Bishop of Limerick praises Anthony Foley's son for Facebook Mass appeal

Axel’s son launches tribute with Facebook mass appeal

Tyler Bleyendaal awards MVP gong to grieving family of Anthony Foley

Munster out-half makes personal presentation to Anthony Foley’s family

More in this Section

Axel’s son launches tribute with Facebook mass appeal

‘Don’t tell me he’s dead,’ man told gardaí

‘I wrote goodbye note on flight’, says Hollywood actress on plane that made emergency landing in Shannon

JetBlue: Cork-US air route delay ‘a concern’

Breaking Stories

Gardaí investigate Limerick gun attack thought to be part of 'local feud'

Lucky lotto player wins €200k on scratch card in Killarney

Dáil will not take mid-term break next week

Jury hears man accused of raping his friend suffers from sexsomnia


Mortgage cash deals require care and research

Brian Deady is no longer Irish pop’s invisible man

You'll have frightful family fun with these mid-term Halloween trips

Books explores children's reaction to widowed father's wish to remarry

More From The Irish Examiner