Saturday 17 August 2019

Eddie Cunningham: 'The Clara Jug will always remind us of how we felt the day young Lowry beat the world'

Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates with the Claret Jug trophy after winning The Open Championship REUTERS/Paul Childs
Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates with the Claret Jug trophy after winning The Open Championship REUTERS/Paul Childs
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I’m sitting here watching the great Shane Lowry holding the Claret Jug.

That trophy will now be forever known as the ‘Clara Jug’ by people from my hometown.

That, possibly, gives you a small idea of what it means to be a Clara and Offaly person today. 

No matter where we live or what we are doing, no matter if (like me) we haven’t swung a club in anger in our lives, we have been transported by this extraordinary achievement to the little town where Brosna waters flow.

Proud, happy and delighted … words at this stage are inadequate. The nearest I can come to describe the feeling is to ask you to evoke moments of magic from a childhood Christmas morning when you discovered that Santa had exceeded your expectations.

It’s magic.

Today we’ll all be walking ten foot tall; today and many, many days to come.

Like we did all those years ago when Shane’s dad Brendan (and his uncles Sean and Mick) won the All-Ireland with Offaly in the famous 1982 final. Not many homes, anywhere, can boast a combination of Celtic Cross medal and Claret Jug can they?

No more than the victory over Kerry in 1982, Shane gave us reason to celebrate an achievement that, for me anyway, was about far more than the game itself. 

He bestrode the course like a Colossus, displaying a mental fortitude that set him apart as a modern day leader.

This son of Clara was quiet and dignified but heroic; emerging from the heat of battle transformed from ‘great’ to ‘legend’.

It is, and will always be, the stuff of delight that we Clara folk belong to the same geographical tribe as this wonderful new champion.

In future, everywhere we go, everywhere we live or visit - be it Kilcoursey, the nearby Esker Hills golf club, Dublin, Sydney, New York, Boston, London. . . . anywhere there is a ‘Clara person’ the conversation will always come around to golf (we’ll see to that, I promise you) and we’ll be able to declare with great pride: “I’m from the same town as Shane Lowry.”

And that Clara Jug will always remind us of where we were, what we were doing and how we felt the day young Lowry beat the world.

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