Con Houlihan adored Casteisland. The iconic sportswriter spent his latter years in Dublin, but never forgot his hometown.
He quoted the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy: “In those streets and fields where you grew up, there you will live and there you will die.”
Now, authorities in Castleisland, and its surrounding areas, are planning to honour him, in return.
Houlihan’s family home, at Dromtrasna, on the Limerick road, is where the commemoration will begin.
For years, the house has been unoccupied and dilapidating. Castleisland Chamber Alliance, a community and enterprise organisation, aims to change this. Michael John Kearney, its chairperson, told the: “We’re in the process of buying Houlihan’s home, and Harriet Duffin (Houlihan’s close friend) has been kind enough to offer us the house at a reasonable price.”
The Chamber Alliance, Mr Kearney said, will cover the initial costs, but added, “we will have to go to the country for money”.
They are depending on the breadth of Houlihan’s friends and admirers. “Connie is known and loved in the capital,” Mr Kearney said.
The appeal of Houlihan’s writings also crosses borders. The Alliance chair indicated they will also fundraise among the Irish diaspora.
The fundraising will not only cover the purchase and renovation of the building, but will pay for the construction of a Con Houlihan statue at the family home.
The Chamber Alliance has another Houlihan-related project in mind: A memorial centre.
It would most likely be located on the main street of Castleisland, its primary purpose to display much of Houlihan’s writings. Duffin will be donating articles from her personal collection.
“She’s got a lot of written material from several decades ago,” Mr Kearney said.
An exhibition of Houlihan’s writings, the Alliance intends, would inform visitors about the rich heritage of Castleisland and the nearby towns and villages.
This heritage includes other writers and sportspeople. The memorial centre will reflect that.
“The centre won’t only feature Con Houlihan; it will have material by Micheál O’Donoghue (the old NS school principal); it will showcase articles from the Sliabh Luachra (a now-defunct Castleisland-based magazine), and commemorate the achievements of the Desmonds GAA club,” Mr Kearney said.
These twin projects, the Alliance believes, will contribute to Castleisland’s tourist potential.
Already, the Con Houlihan memorial trail — a guided walk through the town — has attracted visitors to the town.
As Con Houlihan might say to the Chamber Alliance: “You’re making all the right mistakes.”