Among the attendance were Irish team coach Declan Kidney and a large number of Hayes’s Munster and Ireland team-mates including Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul O’Connell.
The book is sure to prove a great read for the many thousands at home and abroad who grew to admire John Hayes for his durability, strength, dedication and skill from the time he first pulled on a rugby jersey with the Bruff club at the age of 16.
Born into a farming family in nearby Cappamore, an area far better known for its hurling exploits, he initially played in the second row with Bruff and later Shannon before further honing his game in Southland, New Zealand.
On his return to Ireland, Hayes was turned into a tight head prop by the then Shannon coach, nowadays Munster manager, Niall O’Donovan, and the rest is history.
While he was as tough and as fair as they come on the field of play, John Hayes was retiring to the point of shyness when it came to speaking about his exploits. That is why the decision to write his autobiography came as a big surprise to a great many people, a sentiment beautifully captured by Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll in his foreword.
“I never played with anyone who cared so little for plaudits or pats on the back,” he writes. “He’d get embarrassed if he was singled out for special attention. It’s probably why he made very few media appearances over the years. And I’m sure it’s one reason why people came to see him as a kind of folk hero.”
“The Bull, My Story” is published by Simon & Schuster at €18.99. John Hayes will be signing the book in Easons, O’Connell St, Limerick, on September 29; at Easons, Patrick St, Cork, on October 6 and at the Ennis Book Shop on October 13.