Military show fires up fans’ imagination

THE sight of a timber frame Cuckoo’s Nest in the grounds of Limerick Racecourse in Patrickswell was enough to fire the imagination of some of the county’s hurling supporters.

Frantically seeking tickets for the All-Ireland final between the Shannonsiders and Kilkenny, they could instantly see it was the type of private box they would love to have in Croke Park next Sunday.

It would certainly provide a fine elevated viewing point for the game because it is a replica of the sandbag observation posts that many Irish troops occupied during 23 years of peacekeeping service with the UN in South Lebanon.

The Cuckoo’s Nest was part of a large military display at the two-day Limerick Agricultural Show that included vehicles in traditional UN colours and other items associated with missions in the Congo, Lebanon, Cyprus, Somalia and other global flash points.

As usual, the Defence Forces attracted a lot of public interest, but there were also exhibits from other groups.

These included the Irish Lebanon Veterans Living History Group, which John Sweeney and Kevin McCormack founded in 2003 as a non-profit, non-sectarian and non-political organisation.

Mr McCormack said the group hopes to meet with President Mary McAleese and the North’s First Minister Dr Ian Paisley shortly. He said the history is helping to highlight what was kept in the attic for too long but it is now being brought into public view.

However, most of the talk at the show was about the match, with the Army having a particular interest in this year’s decider.

Two of its finest sportsmen will take to the field of battle. County allegiances will mean Private Eoin Larkin, Kilkenny and Lieutenant Andrew Shaughnessy, Limerick, will be fighting it out on opposing sides.

Meanwhile, the wet weather of recent weeks, which caused nearly a dozen shows to be called off countrywide, proved to the organisers of the Limerick event headed by Leo Walsh, chairman, that it was an ill wind that does not blow some good.

For they were allocated extra qualifiers for national competitions, especially after the cancellation of Tullamore Show, and also had increased show jumping entries, as a result of competitors having lost out when other events were called off.

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