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A Quick 18: Golf and family a passion for kids’ author Ray Flannery

Author of the Moany McMoan children's books just loves his golf

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Ray Flannery and Michael Duignan

Ray Flannery and Michael Duignan

Books by Ray Flannery

Books by Ray Flannery

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Ray Flannery and Michael Duignan

Name: Ray Flannery. Handicap: 15.8. Club: Roganstown

He’s a detective Garda for the National Immigration Bureau. But Offaly man Ray Flannery is better known to kids all over Ireland as the author of the hugely successful children’s books on the adventures of Moany McMoan and his pal “Whingy” McWhinge.

While his job means dealing with the real-life tragedies caused by illegal immigration, life as an author has been a dream come true.

As for his spare time, he loves spending it with his wife and sons Oran and Ruairi

But having grown up playing with and against some of the great Offaly hurlers of the past, Banagher native Ray had to give up the game after suffering a knee injury, and golf has become his passion when he is not dreaming up the latest adventures of Moany and Whingy.

1 How’s your golf?

It’s getting there. I had knee surgery in April – my sixth operation on the same knee. I played for nine months knowing I had to have surgery, and it was up and down, but now I am flying it again. I am back in action.

2 How did you get started in the game?

My dad played years ago in Birr, and I went out the odd time with him. But when I did my cruciate ligament in 1997, that put paid to my hurling career, so I started piling on the pounds and thought I’d better do something. So I took up golf with one of my best mates even though we were both lefties with hurling swings.

3 Choose your weapon . . . Driver or putter? And why?

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Driver all day. I just love the feeling of bombing a drive down the middle. I’d be a relatively long-hitter anyway. I just love smashing the ball.

4 Links or parkland? Why?

I’ve started playing links and every year we have a family event at Connemara Championship Golf Links in Ballyconnelly. I absolutely love going down there. It’s just a class course. The 360-degree views from the 14th tee alone are worth the trip. Amazing.

5 When were you happiest on the golf course?

My family event we play is memorable, but three of my friends from Offaly got together to play in Donegal just before I had the surgery. We played Rosapenna, Ballyliffin and Rosses Point, and it was a great weekend and great craic catching up on memories because one of them lives in L.A. We played the new St Patrick’s Course at Rosapenna, which is just fantastic.

6 Who was your sporting hero when you were a kid?

Eric Cantona would have been a major hero and then Roy Keane, being Irish. Nowadays, it would have to be Shane Lowry. I met him once through the airport and I just think he’s so good at what he does and so talented and down to earth that what you see is what you get.

7 Name a writer you especially admire and why. Or perhaps one that has been an inspiration to you.

JK Rowling, probably because of her story. When I wrote my first book, I sent it to publishers and I didn’t even get a reply. I know she was similar. I believe her book was in a pile on the floor of an office and an intern was told to pick one or two of those manuscripts and recommend one. The book the intern chose was Harry Potter. I was similarly lucky in that I met somebody by chance that happened to be in the same business.

8 What’s your golfing ambition? Do you have one?

I would love to get down to single figures, even for a week. The lowest I ever got down to was 11.9, so I’d love to get back fitness-wise and golfing-wise to get to single figures, just to say I achieved it.

9 Name your dream fourball (they don’t have to be golfers). And name the venue.

Shane Lowry, definitely. Roy Keane, even though I don’t know if he golfs and Tommy Tiernan. I’ve met him a few times, and I think the craic and slagging would be unbelievable. And if we could play the Old Course at St Andrews, that would be fantastic.

10 If you could change something about the world of books and writing (or writing for children), what would it be?

Competing with the big publishers and celebrities is a big challenge. Every celebrity worth their salt is writing a children’s book. So they get shelf space with the big publishing houses ahead of someone like BookHub, who are small. I think there might be a section for the smaller publishing houses to have their shot at the title rather than the bigger players in the field. Even getting into libraries is difficult here. I’d love the system to be fairer.

11 If I gave you a mulligan in your professional career, what would it be?

Not to have stayed as long in stations as I did. I spent 12 years in Finglas, which was brilliant at the time, but a former colleague said you should move every five years to see a different way of policing, a different style. Having said that, I’ve been in immigration since 2003, and I love it. It’s brought me all over the world, from Nepal to South Africa and Brazil. Places I’d never have dreamt of going. In writing, I am happy with how it’s gone. To break into the top publishers would be great, but I am happy just to have a contract when so many haven’t.

12 If you had just one more round to play, where would it be? Don’t say Augusta National unless you absolutely must.

I’ve been to Pebble Beach, but I’ve never played the course, so I’d love to have a crack at it.

13 What’s your favourite par three?

The ninth in Roganstown. I love it. It’s tee, lake, green and it’s a very undulating green so if you are short, you are in the water and if you go long, you are in the hotel. It’s a fabulous hole.

14 If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Doesn’t have to be about golf.

My fitness and my commitment to practice. I turn up every two weeks, jump out of the car and head straight for the first tee and play.

15 What’s your most treasured possession?

My golf clubs. But I also have a signed British Open programme from 2019, signed by Shane Lowry. I bought it in a charity auction and I’m very happy to have that in my possession.

16 If you could change something about your golf, what would it be?

My chipping. I am having lessons with Joe Murray at Roganstown to try and improve it. I lose an awful lot of shots, duffing chips from 20 to 30 yards.

17 Who’s your favourite golfer of all time? Why?

Tiger Woods. I got to see a lot of his wins. I was at the Open in Sandwich when Ben Curtis won, but I got to follow Tiger for nine holes and just to see the athleticism and the shots up close and personal, it blew me away.

18 What’s your idea of perfect happiness.

Spending time with my family would be number one, but it’s hard to beat a nice round of golf with some sociable drinks afterwards. I love the simple things in life.


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