IT OCCURS TO ME: Remembering the Cavan Lazarus

Ten years on, Frank Galligan celebrates a genuine GAA All-Star

It occurs to me

At the 50th anniversary celebrations of the 1959 Cavan Minor team are Kevin McCormack (right) and the legendary Mick Higgins (second from left)

In 2009, the Anglo-Celt was looking ahead to the 50th anniversary celebrations of the 1959 Cavan Minor team who won the Ulster title and were beaten by Dublin in the All- Ireland Final.
My father travelled from Carrigart for that match, the Senior Final being a victory for Kerry over Galway.
The Cavan minors had hammered Donegal 6-7 to 1-9 in the Ulster Semi-Final, and a nippy corner-forward called Kevin McCormack had scored 3 points against us.
In 2009. the Celt reported that “Three of that Cavan panel are since deceased, John Boyle (Kill-Drumgoon), Kevin McCormack (Maghera) and Hughie Smith (Cavan Gaels).”
Well Lazarus McCormack had other ideas. Although he had fallen on hard times and busked on the streets of London, he got wind of the celebrations and as you can see in the accompanying photo, he landed in the Slieve Russell.
Alongside him is Brian McEniff’s right hand man in 1972, the legendary Mick Higgins, the 1952 All-Ireland winning Cavan captain and the Minor coach in 1959.
McCormack appeared wearing a blue ‘I love Cavan’ T-shirt and a pair of GAA shorts...some friends didn’t instantly recognise him because he had grown a long beard since they last saw him.
Cavan chairman Phil Smith said: “He entertained everybody. He was busking with the accordion, playing the flute, the guitar – you name it. He was the life and soul of the function.”
Fast forward ten years to early 2019, and a Cavan friend said that poor Kevin had gone to his reward at last. An ‘ojis’ piece of fake news, as it turned out.
After Cavan beat Monaghan, social media in Breffni showed a bearded man, seen sitting down, playing a Stroh violin, a Stroviol, a type of stringed musical instrument mechanically amplified by a metal resonator and trumpet attached to the instrument's body, wearing a ‘I love Cavan’ jumper and giving her lilty!
He’s a genuine All-Star!

In the classic Marx Brothers' 1935 movie, A Night at the Opera, Groucho Marx attempts to explain the intricacies of a business contract to Chico Marx.
When Groucho mentions the “sanity clause”, Chico responds, “You can't fool me. There ain’t no sanity clause!”
I was reminded of this recently, when I was working with schoolchildren in Rang 1 agus 2 down the country, and telling them of how I met Santa one Christmas in Carrigart.
Weans put you to the pin of their collar, they have no filter, and it does your heart good to experience the absolute joy and magic in their pre-Christmas eyes.
The classroom had a state-of-the-art interactive whiteboard on which I was struggling with the techno pen (I’ve never progressed past the blackboard and chalk!)
Wee Ellen watched with increasing bemusement… “You’re doing an awful bit of scribbling there, mister!”
Mercifully, the scribbling ended up in a festive poetic whole, to which the children contributed their Santa lists and other hilarious Yuletide observations.
Thankfully, even the sceptical Ellen loved my ‘meeting with Santa’ yarn, but having looked at the silver hair and moustache of the visitor from Donegal, added: “Are you related to him?”
“Far out” I reassured her...far out indeed!
Sanity Clause? Of course, there’s a Sanity Clause!
Teachers have known it for years!

We may not have a Met Éireann White Christmas but considering the amount of snowflakes we have in a country where the nanny state goes OTT over every piece of PC bullshit imaginable, don’t be surprised.
I could share a list as long as your arm, but Irish Rail surely take the long as you don’t ask for one with a reusable cup!
As I write, I’m listening to their PR representative struggle to explain to Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio about their latest ban. It appears that it is against the company’s policy for passengers to receive hot drinks directly in reusable cups.
“We cannot currently accommodate [passenger] keep cups on our service,” Irish Rail spokeswoman Jane Cregan told Sean. Why? Staff health and safety concerns and the limited supply of water on train services!
God between us and disposable bullshit!
Sean O’Rourke couldn’t hide his increasing incredulity, nor could his listeners.
It seems one commuter on the Enterprise train to Belfast was told that she could not have a hot drink poured into her reusable cup. She said the assistant, who was using a catering trolley to serve customers in the carriages, told her it was “a health and safety issue if I can’t balance your cup properly under the spout”.
The commuter said she was confused by this, as she had used a reusable cup previously on trains. She told the Irish Times: “I assumed the trollies are much of a muchness. But [the catering staff] said, ‘No, no, no. I have to sell you a cup’.”
On the health and safety issue, Irish Rail said that “trialing different size cups under the spout could lead to the catering attendant being burned”.
It confirmed that catering staff tally the number of sales with the number of cups left.
On a later trip on the Enterprise, she noticed an advertisement featuring reusable cups for sale, with a “10 percent discount on all hot drinks when using an Enterprise Keep Cup”.
Irish Rail said that “as a response to demand for keep cups, corporate catering sourced keep cups that fit under the spout of the trolley and also have a closing mechanism that is completely safe”.
To avail of a hot drink in a reusable cup, passengers have to buy a branded Enterprise Keep Cup, and all other cups – regardless of size – it seems, are blacklisted.
The last time I was on a train, some drunken louts carrying cans of beer used foul language and were obnoxious to many scared fellow commuters on board. Not a sign of a security official from beginning to journey’s end!
I accompanied a very upset woman and her daughter to find another carriage, so that they might journey in peace. Glad to see that our rail mandarins are prioritising how cups fit properly under spouts. Spouting bloody nonsense!

On the same show, a listener texted Sean O’Rourke to say that ‘Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are like two bald men fighting over a comb!”
Unlike proxy voting, ill-fitting printers and Dara’s double-jobbing, they can’t ‘brush’ that one under the table!

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