There is no escaping the sense of excitement and expectation not just amongst the members of Lahinch Golf Club but also the whole of the village and West Clare in general as the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Championship looms this week.
Twenty years ago, there were the three shadowy priests who, it was claimed, had knowledge of Colin Lynch’s suspension before the Munster Council had even met to decide his faith. In Liam Doyle, Seánie McMahon, and Anthony Daly, meanwhile, Clare had the three wise kings, forming one of hurling’s greatest half-back lines. Two decades on from the Banner’s last Munster SHC success and the All-Ireland title that got away, the trio recall that tumultuous summer of ’98, from Lynch’s ban to Jimmy Cooney’s bad time-keeping.
Of all the signs and banners that have shot up along the Kildysart Road to celebrate the magical adventure of the local hurling team, the one by the Kellys’ front gate probably best encapsulates the boldness and historical nature of it.
It looks like Star Wars has already had an impact on Irish tourism, as Skellig Michael, which features in The Force Awakens, was named among the top ten attractions along the Wild Atlantic Way by tourists.