Monday 18 December 2017

Flags of our fathers are Thomond's new treasures

Kathryn Hayes

THOMOND Park had another brush with history yesterday when the touchline flags from the first international rugby match ever played in Limerick were donated to the new museum at the iconic rugby stadium.

The flags, donated by the Limerick City Museum, were used in 1898 when Ireland took on Wales in a match held on the grounds of Limerick Lawn Tennis Club on the Ennis Road.

They were originally given to Limerick Civic Trust by Limerick-born rugby international Paddy Reid, who was a part of the 1948 Grand Slam team and who still attends rugby matches at Thomond Park.

More than 25,000 people have visited the rugby museum at the redeveloped Thomond Park rugby stadium since it opened in November 2008.

The 1898 touchline flags will be displayed at the museum alongside an impressive range of rugby memorabilia, which includes the match ball from the famous 12-0 Munster victory over the All Blacks in 1978 and the duffle coat that was thrown into the air after the win.

A replica of the 2006 Heineken Cup trophy is also on display along with a photograph of Padre Pio which was worn by Paul O'Connell in his rugby boot on the historic occasion.

Speaking at the presentation in Thomond Park yesterday, stadium director John Cantrell said the touchline flags would be a great addition to the rugby museum.

"We have had over 25,000 people visit our museum in the first year and that's outside of match days. The addition of the flags from all those years ago on a long-term loan from the museum is an addition for us because it's very hard to get content going back all those years, especially in such good condition," he said.

"Munster rugby is a modern-day success story in terms of commercial and on-the-pitch success. We'd like to add some content that goes back to where it all began and we can't do much better than what we received today," he added.

Limerick's mayor, Maria Byrne, said it was important that the flags were kept in the home of Limerick rugby.

"There's no more appropriate place for these flags than Thomond Park and there are visitors who come to the museum and it is appropriate that the flags be here in the home of Limerick rugby," she said.

Irish Independent

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