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T Ryle Dwyer: A free thinker who believed in living life to the full

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Aengus Fanning with his wife Anne Harris

Aengus Fanning with his wife Anne Harris

Aengus with the
late Ronnie Drew

Aengus with the late Ronnie Drew

With the late
Garret FitzGerald
in Ranelagh

With the late Garret FitzGerald in Ranelagh

Aengus with Bertie Ahern in September 2002

Aengus with Bertie Ahern in September 2002

Aengus Fanning with the then UUP
leader David Trimble at Stormont

Aengus Fanning with the then UUP leader David Trimble at Stormont

Aengus with the late
Veronica Guerin
in 1995

Aengus with the late Veronica Guerin in 1995

Aengus Fanning (back row) when he played for Kerry in 1960s

Aengus Fanning (back row) when he played for Kerry in 1960s

Aengus with former Kerry footballer Mick O'Connell at Valentia Island, Co Kerry

Aengus with former Kerry footballer Mick O'Connell at Valentia Island, Co Kerry

Aengus Fanning with Ulick O'Connor on Bloomsday in 2009

Aengus Fanning with Ulick O'Connor on Bloomsday in 2009

Aengus with first wife Mary and their sons Dion, Evan and
Steve

Aengus with first wife Mary and their sons Dion, Evan and Steve

Aengus as part of the Sunday Independent's Cricket Society (back
row, second from left)

Aengus as part of the Sunday Independent's Cricket Society (back row, second from left)

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Aengus Fanning with his wife Anne Harris

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.

Irish Independent