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Monday 5 December 2016

'I wouldn't serve that guy again' - Bruff locals react to footballer's comments about 'weird' Limerick village

David Raleigh

Published 18/06/2016 | 02:30

Bruff’s Main Street. Picture Credit Brian Gavin
Bruff’s Main Street. Picture Credit Brian Gavin

My hometown Bruff has never taken itself too seriously - but it's one of the few places which would be entitled to do so. The town got quite the kicking from Scottish footballer Jordan Moore in a newspaper article, describing it as a backward place where there were "more horses than cars".

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Not many know it but Bruff is something of a cultural gem. It's the direct ancestral home of the assassinated US President John F Kennedy; and one of the greatest composers of European nationalistic music, Sean O'Riada, grew up here.

A street sign highlighting links to JFK. Picture Credit: Brian Gavin
A street sign highlighting links to JFK. Picture Credit: Brian Gavin

Moore, who was trying to resurrect his soccer career following a cancer scare, was "welcomed with open arms". He was on a three-month loan spell at Limerick FC, and was staying at the club's newly set up soccer academy in Bruff.

If Neil Cameron, a journalist with 'Herald Scotland', had searched online he'd have discovered a town full of history, culture and sporting legends. It may have led him to question the bizarre claims by Moore, who told him a load of old cobblers. He described Bruff as "the weirdest village ever".

"The locals would jump on the backs of horses and just ride along. There were no cars...I think they were gypsy horses. They actually looked terrible," Moore claimed.

Bruff's pride is hurt, but it's bigger than Jordan Moore, and it's already moving on.

Publican Jack Clancy behind his bar. Picture Credit Brian Gavin
Publican Jack Clancy behind his bar. Picture Credit Brian Gavin

On my visit back to the place where I grew up, I couldn't find sight nor sound of even one horse on the Main Street. As I strolled into town, I ran into the annual Bloomsday festival, now in its ninth year. James Joyce was a close friend of Bruff's George Clancy, a former mayor of Limerick who was the inspiration for the character Davin, in 'A Portrait of a Young Artist'.

Donal Thurlow, organiser, dressed in tweed hat and all things Joycean, admitted, despite Moore's porkies, "I feel a little sad for him".

"Obviously, visitors or residents here wouldn't recognise this fine town from his comments," he said.

Prepared to forgive the young footballer for his faux pas, Thurlow said he and others would welcome Moore back. But George Clancy's grand nephew, Jack Clancy, who runs a local bar isn't as forgiving.

Mark Nagle of Eurospar. Picture Credit Brian Gavin
Mark Nagle of Eurospar. Picture Credit Brian Gavin

"I wouldn't serve that guy again," he said, mulling over how "daft" it all was.

"It's upsetting to have Bruff portrayed in that light."

Outside on the gable-end of the pub is a large painted mural of retired Bruff, Munster and Ireland rugby hero - and Bruff local - John 'Bull' Hayes.

Despite it all, a few locals decided to poke fun at themselves over the controversy. "We brought a horse (into the pub) yesterday, a little miniature pony and took a photograph. The only way you can treat his comments to is with a certain contempt and humour," Jack said.

Donal Thurlow,and Cllr Bridget Teefey in Joycean dress. Picture Credit Brian Gavin
Donal Thurlow,and Cllr Bridget Teefey in Joycean dress. Picture Credit Brian Gavin

Jack's nephew, also George Clancy, is another Bruffman to be proud of. At only 38 years of age, he has progressed from pulling pints to officiating at World Cup Finals as an International Rugby referee.

Another shop which also featured in Moore's fiction of An Bru was the local Eurospar. Moore had claimed how local farmers, acting in revenge for having their horses cleared out of town, put all their cows into the schools and "Spars and supermarkets". Ironically, the Eurospar owner, Mark Nagle, was on his way to Dublin to pick up a customer service award when he became aware of Moore's comments. "We welcomed him with open arms, and we were there for him when he needed a place to start afresh. Bruff was there for him," Mr Nagle said.

"Bruff will still be there for him going forward.

"We're not going to shun him because a young man made a silly mistake; a very big mistake for us, but we're bigger than that."

The mural tribute to John Hayes. Picture Credit Brian Gavin
The mural tribute to John Hayes. Picture Credit Brian Gavin

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