Cheltenham 2017

This is a big week for Ireland in sporting terms. We play England in the men’s rugby to try to prevent them from winning the Grand Slam and in The Sport of Kings the battle for the bragging rights at Cheltenham takes place.

Both will I think be mighty battles and if we can win one of them, I think we will be quite content because this year in the rugby and the racing I think that England have very strong teams.

Cheltenham was always held over three days and I think that it was a much more enjoyable racing festival when it was over just the three days. You had the Queen Mother Chase on the Tuesday and then the Champion Hurdle and Champion Bumper on the Wednesday and the Gold Cup always the highlight on the concluding Thursday.

As an experiment they held another days racing on the Friday a few years ago. Similar to this year St Patrick’s Day happened to fall on the Friday. Unlike this year they ran the Gold Cup on the Thursday. It obviously worked for Cheltenham but they didn’t have huge numbers staying on till Friday. Then they decide in their wisdom to move the Gold Cup to the Friday so that more of the racegoers would stay on for the extra day. As a result Thursdays racing is now a little bit mediocre and many people are staying on for the Gold Cup who would really like to be home for Patricks Day.

I wrote to Edward Gillespie the then manager at Cheltenham, a few years ago to suggest they revert back to what was a much more enjoyable timetable but he really wasn’t interested in my comments. Unfortunately as it is in most walks of life it is all about the money.

Anyway that is my gripe out of the way and it’s now all about trying to pick a few winners. I haven’t been too successful in the past few years so if you decide to have a few quid on any of my tips please let the investments be small. We are in it for the fun rather than the profit!!!!

There are two types of races at Cheltenham. The championship races where all horses carry the same weight and as a result in nearly all these races it is the best horse in the race that wins.

Then there are the handicap races where the best handicapped horse wins. They are really two totally different types of races and as I have no idea as to which horses are the best handicapped and do not have the time to do the research, the few horses that I am going to mention all run in the championship races and I have kept away from the handicaps.

So for what they are worth;

Tuesday in the first race, the Supreme Novices Hurdle a horse called Ballyandy at around 5 to 1. I saw Ballyandy win his last race on TV and he also won the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last year. In the Champion Hurdle later Brainpower at 7 to 1 is the tentative selection.

On Wednesday just one selection in the Champion Bumper a mare called Fayonagh. I saw her win her second bumper in Ireland at Fairyhouse and was very impressed with the way she finished. She also won a bumper at Naas which suggests she might get up that tough Cheltenham hill. Currently about 12 to 1

Thursday nothing suggested.

Friday just one Sizing John in the Gold Cup. He won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February and is trained by Jessica Harrington a wonderful Irish trainer. He is around 10 to 1.Will he stay the 3 miles 5 furlongs at Cheltenham? We will know Thursday.

Anyway best of luck and let’s hope we have a good week at the races and the rugby.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

March 2017

 

Jack lynch

When Declan Hassett the playwright approached us last year to see if we would sponsor his new play about Jack Lynch we were honoured and delighted to get involved.

I knew about Jack Lynch the politician and leader of Fianna Fail who served two terms as Taoiseach and indeed steered Ireland through some difficult political times as I had lived through his political live. I had however to read about his prowess in hurling and Gaelic football as he was before my time. Jack won the last of his six all Ireland medals in a row, in 1946 the year I was born. Five of the medals were for hurling and in 1945 he won his football all Ireland.

I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times but the highlight for me was the year I was captain of Cork Golf Club and he joined us for a wonderful meal when he, Joe Carr and Peter Thomson entertained us with stories of their wonderful sporting lives. I can tell you there were a few sliotars flying in the air that evening amongst the golf balls!

Jack Lynch was himself in august company that evening as the great Joe Carr had by then won thirty eight Irish amateur golf championships and an unbelievable three British Amateur championships. Peter Thompson from Australia was also one of golf’s heroes having won The British Open Championship an amazing five times. Yes around the table at Cork Golf Club were three unique sportsmen.

 I have to admit I was totally out of my depth that evening but will always have the memory and the photo to prove at least that I was there.

The play “Jack” starts in the Everyman Palace Theatre in Cork tomorrow evening and we wish all the actors and Declan Hassett and Pat Talbot, the producer the best of luck.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

March 2017

The Seville Marathon

Eamon was running in the marathon in Seville recently so that was our excuse for making a trip to Seville. We had heard that Seville was a beautiful place to visit. We even heard that oranges could be found growing on the streets in the middle of February…yah!

In case you were wondering, no unfortunately he didn’t win the marathon but the fact that there were 13,999 other runners made it quite a competitive affair. Maybe next year Eamon.

Yes there were oranges growing on the streets and really it was for us an amazing sight to see trees full of oranges and lemons. Yes truly wonderful to see and one I will remember. Interestingly the Seville Marathon for ladies was won by a Cork athlete Jill Hodgins in 2012 in a wonderful time of 2:46:58. It would appear that Jill didn’t spend too much time picking the oranges along the way.

I am still not sure how oranges are ready to be picked in February but being picked they were. The evenings were cool and the maximum temperatures while we were there were around 16/17% in the afternoons and about 10% by night. I did pick an orange off a tree, the advantage of having a bit of height and have to admit it was quite bitter! It was only later that I was informed that Seville oranges are more suitable for marmalade rather than being squeezed.

We drove from Seville to Ronda the following day, guided by my wonderful brother George. Ronda is a most spectacular place to visit with the most incredible views from the hotels and walkways literally perched on the side of a gorge.

On the way from Ronda to the airport in Malaga we stopped in a tiny little town called Pizarro for some lunch and found a little cafeteria called Nora which we couldn’t resist.

We had 5 tapas, simple ones with bread cheese and ham and tuna. Two coffees a beer and a glass of wine and a large bottle of water…total cost for the three of us €7.20. We left Pizarro with a smile on our faces and said hopefully some day we would return. You can’t beat the value to be got from small family businesses wherever they are.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

March 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Match Coach

I don’t read poetry that much but enjoy it from time to time.

My son in law Rossa Mc Mahon recently sent me this one written by Bernard O Donoghue about some sadly departed GAA stars including his late Dad Garry Mc Mahon who when playing with Kerry scored the fastest goal ever in an all-Ireland Football final . I think it is a rather special poem and hope that you enjoy it too.

In memory of heroes

I had just, or so I dreamt, moved on ahead

To the bridge where the weeping willow

Bows down over the river when I saw

Garry Mc Mahon running back towards me

Out of the mist. “Hurry on!” he called:

“The coach will leave without you, and you’ll miss

The match.” “Who else is coming? I asked him,

“Who is already on the bus?” “John Kerins is there” he said,

“Tom Creedon will come for certain:

Humphrey Kelleher, Jim Brosnan, Christy Ring,

And Michael Mc McCarthy from O Donovan Rossa’s.”

“I’ll come” I said, “If you’re sure Toots is there.

And tell me one last thing: who is the driver?”

Garry said, “If it comes to it, I’ll drive the bus myself.”

Written in memory of Garry Mc Mahon, father of my son-in-law Rossa Mc Mahon. by Garry’s great friend Bernard O Donoghue a poet originally from Cullen in Cork who teaches English in Oxford.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

February 2017

Golfing at Waterville

Golf at Waterville Links commenced in 1973 in a gorgeous location on the main Ring of Kerry road looking out over Waterville Beach and Ballinskelligs Bay. The original course was funded by John A Mulcahy and designed by Eddie Hackett and a wonderful job they both did. I have played it every year since then, my, that’s 44 years and yes I have already played a round this year on 5th of January in the company of Michael Bruen son of one of Ireland’s greatest ever golfers Jimmy. As you can see from the photo Michael is no mean player himself as he launches a big one down (the middle of) the 18th fairway.

 

1

I drove into Waterville last weekend to see how progress was going on the new course that is being built on the easterly side of Waterville by an American company, on the site that was formerly the Skellig Bay Golf Club. This new golf course is due to open this summer and the photo I took last Sunday shows great progress on the clubhouse and practice green below it.

2

I have watched with fascination the construction of the course since early last year and have never ceased to be amazed at the high quality work that has been undertaken. From the mounds of sand the height of a three story building, which is now spread over the site to improve drainage, to the purchasing of the land on the easterly side just below Lohar Church to creating the new golfing land with great views of Ballinskelligs Bay, no money has been spared. This photo was taken 13th July 2016

3

Last summer it was all brown reshaped land being seeded. Now it is a fantastic looking golf course and whilst it will not be links as the cliffs are high above the sea so the sand from the nearby beach will not quite reach it. The new course will I feel be an incredible addition to golf at Waterville and indeed will attract many valuable golfing tourists to Ireland. This photo was taken 5th of January 2017

4

To say I am impressed by what I saw as the course was being constructed, would be an understatement. One event stands out. It was probably last September and it was a horribly wet day. We were having lunch in the splendid Smugglers Restaurant that overlooks Waterville beach and the 18th hole at Waterville and I remember looking at the unfortunate golfers struggling with the elements as the rain bucketed down. After lunch we drove alongside the new golf course and I could see water flowing off the course in various places.

I remember when I got involved with some golfing friends in building Faithlegg Golf Club in Waterford many years ago, there were two events that stood out. The first was when we had the entire course reshaped and reseeded and we were waiting for the grass seeds to spark and the grass to grow. I remember touching the ground in October of that year with my hand to see if the grass was coming through and the excitement when I did feel it. The second was when the rains came and we saw how the newly reshaped land was draining and where we needed to re-drain the land accordingly.

Two days after the heavy rain fell that day in Waterville the course contractors had two helicopters flying over the entire course to see what was happening with the drainage and naturally then to fix any spots that needed it. Now why didn’t we think of that at Faithlegg!

To finish my story on Waterville last weekend. When we were looking at the new clubhouse under construction last Sunday I looked across towards Waterville House just across the river, where I could see a man was fishing in what used to be called The Butler Pool where the lake waters flow into Ballinskelligs Bay and I saw him running to the house for a net. There must be a fish in the river I thought, and sure enough as we drove across the river towards Waterville a few moments later I could see he had a fish on the line.

5

F0r me, a so called fisherman, there is nothing as exciting as seeing a salmon being played and landed. It looked like a big fish as it took the fisherman some time to get him into his net.

6

The big salmon in hand about to be released carefully back into the river.

7

Well done Kevin O Shea the long-time excellent starter on Waterville Links it was wonderful to watch you in action.

And so Waterville you are starting a new chapter. During this year you will have two of Ireland’s great golf courses situated east and west of your village in play. It gives the village industries, hotels, restaurants, shops and other associated businesses the incredible opportunity to get their visiting golfers to stay a few nights and a few days in Waterville as they sample the golfing, fishing and other delights of the village. Up to now golfers in particular have been staying in Killarney and only visiting Waterville Golf Club by day. Waterville make sure you market yourselves well……you now have a super chance to transform your tourism business. Best of luck.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

February 2017

 

The Atlantic Pond

My Grandmother Josephine Daly lived in a house at the top of Barrington’s Avenue, a little lane that runs between the Atlantic Pond and the Blackrock Road in Cork.

Even though we lived in Tivoli which is on the other side of the River Lee we spent a lot of time in her house as children. From her house we used to explore the Atlantic Pond area which is close to the Marina which is a splendid walkway along the River Lee to what used to be called the fishing village of Blackrock.

The pond always seems full of wildlife: ducks, water hens, swans, sea gulls and it is wonderful to see so many herons nesting on the trees on the island in the middle of the pond.

20170127_133348

The Atlantic Pond was once part of the River Lee system and it was only when they built the Navigational Quay wall along the river that the Marina road was built and the pond was created to take the water flows from the various stream systems that run through the pond and out into the River Lee.

The Pond is adjacent to Cork’s GAA pitch Pairc Ui Chaoimh and as a result on match day thousands of match goers walk around the Pond on their way to and from the matches. It is also visited daily by walkers and children who delight in feeding the wildlife.

20170127_110041

The Atlantic Pond can be seen just right of the stadium.

I went for a walk along the river Lee recently and saw an incredible number of rowers on the river. Rowing is now a boom sport all over Ireland thanks to the silver medal success in the Olympics of the wonderful O Donovan brothers from Skibbereen.

20170122_110251

I then decided to walk to the pond to see the progress on the redevelopment work at Pairc Ui Chaoimh…very impressive and I then strolled around the pond. I have to admit that I was very disappointed to see the condition of the surrounds of the walls of the pond itself and the very dilapidated state of the paths around the pond.

20170127_134146

There is great work currently being undertaking in the village of Blackrock in the area of Cork Boat Club and I know that our current Lord Mayor Des Cahill is giving his enthusiastic support to the ongoing work. I just hope that the plans for Blackrock and the Marina include an upgrading of the Atlantic Pond area as it is badly needed.

I have to admit feeling a little left down by Cork Corporation and those responsible for the upkeep of the Pond area as not too long ago my colleague and friend Dermot O Mahoney and I led a fund raising drive to raise money for the Atlantic pond restoration fund.

The project started when I met Micheál Martin TD when he was Lord Mayor in 1993. Knowing that he regularly walked around the pond area I suggested to him that work was badly needed also at that time and in 1995 he joined us in a fund raising effort to dredge the pond and redo the walkways and grass areas. We also met with Cork Corporation and they said that they would match any money we raised. The Atlantic Pond Restoration Fund was started.

The overall cost was estimated at close to £100,000.

Our fundraising group set ourselves a target of £35,000 and had great fun with table quizzes, fun runs charity walks, golf outings and some musical evenings and eventually after much struggling and a lot of great work by many people we got close to our target and had reached in excess of £30,000. Micheál Martin then approached the wonderful Cork developer Owen O Callaghan who very sadly died earlier this month and his company very kindly gave us the £5,000 we were short. Ted Crosbie of The Irish Examiner was also very generous to us.

So now we were making progress and with our £35,000 being matched by Cork Corporation we were now at £70,000 and with government funding of the balance we reached our target and it was with great satisfaction that we saw the work commence.

The pond was dredged and all the waste was pumped to an area east of the pond and subsequently the main drainage pump for Cork’s sewage disposal to the site at Little Island was built on that reclaimed land. Interestingly many shells were rediscovered at the bottom of the pond from the time it was part of the sea/river system. The paths and the wall of the pond were restored and the grass areas improved. It was wonderful.

So yes to see the Pond in a rundown state is naturally very disappointing for all concerned and hopefully its closest neighbour The GAA with their splendid new stadium and Cork Corporation might lend financial support to do what needs to be done again. I don’t remember getting any support from Cork’s County Board of the GAA the last time but maybe this time around they will feel that the Atlantic Pond area is important enough for them to support. Yes of course if an independent fund raising effort is required I will be available to help. Yes Lord Mayor Des Cahill and yes Micheál Martin and yes the Cork GAA and yes Cork Corporation your help is also badly needed to make The Atlantic Pond something that Cork people can be proud of again.

 

Ted Dwyer Family Business

January 2017

 

 

Winter magic in Kerry

Everybody knows how beautiful a place Kerry is to visit in the summer time especially when the weather is kind. It can also be truly magical in the winter if the sun comes out. The colours thrown up by the low winter sun can be beautiful.

I spent a few days in Kerry at the end of the year and I hope you enjoy a few of the views that I enjoyed.

The sun setting over the Ship House that overlooks Derrynane Beach

Looking across towards The Beara Peninsula West Cork

Barfinnihy Lake on the road from Sneem to Killarney just before Molls Gap.

The river, slightly frozen, that feeds into the highest of the Killarney lakes in The Black Valley. This is a route that connects Molls Gap with The Gap of Dunloe and is possibly one of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit in Kerry.

A beautiful home situated deep in the Black Valley and even though this photo was taken at noon on the 4th of Jan the winter sun was still hidden by the surrounding mountains.

The lovely fishing village of Portmagee with Valentia Island across the water. There is always a great lunch in the village pub. In summer this is a very busy fishing marina where trips to the Skelligs can also be arranged.

From Portagee if you head over the mountain towards St Finian’s Bay (where you should visit the wonderful Skellig chocolate factory) , just before you reach that lovely surfing beach look out to sea and you will spot Star War’s country in the distance.

I hope that 2017 will be a good year for all of us and my resolution for this year is to take the time to smell the roses and I hope that you will too.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

January 2017