Daughter of 1951 hero says curse legend insults her father's memory
THE daughter of a Mayo player who scored the winning goal in 1951 has hit out at the constant references to a curse on the county, saying it insults the memory of her father and the rest of the team.
Ailbhe Gilvarry's father Joe 'Joko' Gilvarry scored one of two goals during that fateful All-Ireland final against Meath and she never heard mention of the curse until around 2004, after her father died.
According to legend, a priest cursed the winning team for failing to show due respect while passing a funeral in Foxford – saying they would not win another title until all of that team had died. There are only three surviving members of the team, Paddy Prendergast, Fr Peter Quinn and Padraig Carney, all of whom have dismissed the claims as ridiculous.
"It has been a source of massive discomfort within the family," Ailbhe, of Kilalla, Co Mayo, said yesterday.
"I actually get quite insulted by it – the idea that any of those men would have been disrespectful at a funeral. These were god fearing people. There was a priest on the team and my father always had a miraculous medal in his boot. In all my years growing up I never heard a word about it until after dad had died. It's annoying."
Ailbhe will be with 10 members of her family, including her Dublin-born husband Eddie cheering on Mayo at Croke Park tomorrow.
"For Eddie it will be self interest before county interest. It's all Mayo jerseys in my house. Dad has eight grandchildren born and reared in Dublin and they will all be supporting Mayo," she added. And the Dublin-based solicitor who has lived in the capital since she was 11 says she remains green and red to her core.
"My husband is from Dublin and all three of our children were born in the Coombe but there is no blue allowed in our house
"Our eight-year-old son Eddie's class was told to wear their Dublin jerseys in (to school) but he had to tell his teacher he didn't have one," she explained.
She also believes that some of the 1951 team may invoke a little divine intervention to break the 62-year wait.
"Dad died a week before the 2004 All-Ireland. I really thought we'd do it last year because it was on the same date and day as the '51 final.
"I was hoping that was a sign, I thought dad would be quicker getting to the top of the queue for indulgences but this has to be our year," she added.