AENGUS Fanning grew up in Tralee, mainly in St Brendan's Park, which was then a comparatively large urban council housing estate. We lived across the road from each other.
He was a few years older but was always a leader to the younger lads.
This was the era of the ban in Gaelic games, but Aengus would never have been able to conceal his contempt for the ban. In addition to Gaelic football, he played rugby, soccer, cricket, and tennis. He developed an interest in forming a cricket team.
We had bales, stumps and bats, but no padding and it could be pretty dangerous, with Aengus bowling. He bowled with more passion than finesse. On one occasion one of his deliveries bounced up and caught one of his classmates in the eye.
That ended the cricket.
Of course, Gaelic football was the most popular game in Kerry. Aengus was particularly proficient. He was one of the mainstays of the Tralee CBS football team. Aengus demonstrated his football prowess by playing in the demanding position of centre field for the Kerry minors for two years. The team reached two Munster finals but, alas, lost out on both occasions.
Aengus broke into the Austin Stacks senior team while he was still a minor. Although the Stacks had been one of the dominant teams in Kerry in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, the 1960s were a particularly lean period. It not until the 1970s that the team came to the fore again.
Aengus was a free thinker in an era when young people were not expected to think for themselves.
One of Aengus' early passions was music. In the era before television, all the neighbours could hear him practising his clarinet into the early hours of the morning. When he went away to university, the whole neighbourhood would have realised that the nighttime quiet was a testament to his departure.
He had distinguished himself academically in the Intermediate Certificate when he got some of the highest marks in Ireland, but his subsequent interests strayed from academia and he became more famous at UCC for his other activities.
He lived life to the full and, in his own quiet determined way, he has had a profound impact on this country.