Friday 28 October 2016

Remembering a remarkable career calling the horses

Published 12/08/2015 | 02:30

The late racing commentator Peter O’Sullevan
The late racing commentator Peter O’Sullevan

Peter O'Sullevan, the Kerry-born BBC racing commentator and journalist, died recently aged 97.

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His gentlemanly, magnetic voice drew every follower of the sport to his broadcasts, like bees to honey. O'Sullevan was always a 'short nose' ahead of the field. When covering a Grand National, he listed the fallers in precise order, while giving a vivid description of the rider's injuries even before they hit the ground. He was truly a visionary and a legend in his lifetime.

The excellent obituary by Chris Corrigan, and the report by columnist Eamonn Sweeney, in the 'Sunday Independent' (August 2) rolled back the years on the many memorable events and the great horses of O'Sullevan's era. For example, I'll never forget the 'charismatic' grey superstar Desert Orchid, winner of 34 races, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup and four King Georges at Kempton. Though he died nine years ago age 27, I have a personally taken photograph of him still hanging in my living room.

And, of course, I felt nostalgia for other wonder horses like Arkle, Red Rum, Sea Bird, Nijinsky and Dancing Brave, whose memory - made even larger than life by the renowned commentator - will go on for ever.

The first bet O'Sullevan placed - a hint at his future career at the age of 10 - was sixpence each way on Tipperary Tim at 100-1 in the 1928 Grand National. Coincidentally, my late father told me that in his youth he, too, wagered one shilling each way at those attractive odds, enabling his widowed mother to add an additional cow to their humble herd from his winnings.

I have read 'Calling the Horses', O'Sullevan's best-selling autobiography. It has plenty of fun, and documents all the thrills and spills of a remarkable career.

James Gleeson

Thurles, Co Tipperary


Arsene and Brian's job swap

As a Tipperary and Arsenal fan, I have a dream that Arsene Wenger and Brian Cody will swap jobs - if only for one season.

Then, just for once, Kilkenny might arrive at a match"nervous" and "not physically ready" - while I doubt the same would apply to my soccer team.

Of course, we would have to sort out what to do with the £8m (€11.2m) Mr Wenger gets paid every year, but that's for another dream.

Tom Brazil

Edgware, UK


The needy and the greedy

There is an old saying that only two types of people gamble: the needy and the greedy.

At present, our National Lottery gives a small amount of what it collects to good causes.

But the needy or the greedy buy Lotto tickets to dream of winning multi-millions, and never give a thought about good causes.

The present odds of winning first prize in the Lotto is 8 million to one. Come September, those odds will increase to 11 million to one, and the cost of playing in September will increase from €4 to €5 - and two extra numbers will be added.

Yes, I know those figures don't seem to add up, in fact, it seems to be an Irish mathematical conundrum.

If you really want to win €8m, simply drop in to your local bookie, and ask him to lay you a bet on anything at odds of 2 million to one. Don't worry, he'll find something for you, so just place your €4 on the nose, and in no time at all you won't know which Rolls-Royce to drive!

Fred Molloy

Glenville, Dublin 15


Legacy of O'Donovan Rossa

We cannot airbrush O'Donovan Rossa out of history to suit establishment politics, as was suggested by some of your correspondents who have attacked him.

They were also dismissive of the men and women who gave their lives in 1916. I travelled to Dublin for the re-enactment of an event which once brought 40,000 people on to the streets of Dublin to honour the Cork man and to all who profess allegiance to the ideal of a united Ireland with full control of her destiny.

To refuse to commemorate Donovan Rossa would be to repudiate the right of the Irish state to exist and to ignore the Famine, evictions, the Land War, and the suppression of the Irish language and culture.

Noel Harrington

Kinsale, Co Cork


Dehumanising refugees

There seems to be a concerted effort in the media lately to use language intended to dehumanise those fleeing war, poverty and persecution.

So much of the coverage around the people who drowned in the Mediterranean last week, and previously, centres around the term "migrants" - rarely is the word "refugee" used, and still less the correct term: "people".

Those making these perilous journeys to try to get to Europe are doing what any of us would do in their situation, trying to find a safer, better life for themselves and their families.

It is not hostility, detention and direct provision that they should be met with, but empathy, kindness and a welcome.

Zoë Lawlor



Scrap the TV licence

Though the next Budget may be some way off in October, I would like to suggest at least one way the Government could do something for the long-suffering masses, and it wouldn't cost them a penny: repeal the TV and radio licence fee, and let RTÉ fund itself, however it wishes, in an open market where it already has a good headstart.

That would put €160 annually back in the pocket of every honest licence-payer in the State. It would also end the almost-Orwellian situation where anyone who wants to watch any TV is obliged to pay a heavy subsidy towards a TV station they may never watch.

If we were all still paying tithes to the Church of Ireland, despite not availing of its services, or obliged to subsidise a State newspaper, there would be uproar.

Yet we are in much the same situation regarding the relic that is RTÉ.

The tithes were finally dropped in 1869. Perhaps someone could start a Facebook campaign to devolve RTÉ and end its dependence on our pockets?

Nick Folley

Carrigaline, Co Cork


Joy of Shane Lowry's victory

What a pleasure it was to see the sheer joy and delight on the face of Shane Lowry in Akron, Ohio.

No Watsonesque tears. Just pure joy for both himself and his family in Offaly after winning a World Golf Championship against some of the best players in the world. Give us more, Shane.

J Mackey

Address with Editor

Irish Independent

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