It is my great pleasure to be asked to write the foreword to this fine production. The format is unique and original. It gives us an insight into the views and ideas of the personalities involved. We can read their hearts and minds and come to understand and appreciate how they viewed and dealt with the social and economic progress of that magical part of Ireland where they were all destined to live out their lives.

Connemara has been written about and painted; it has known great joy and equally, it has felt the pain of emigration when young men shed bitter tears at Galway’s Ceannt Station in the 50s. Although the stories in this book come from West Connemara, they are nevertheless reflective of rural Irish society generally during this bygone era. People from all parts of rural Ireland will most likely identify with the subject matter of this book because it probably mirrors the social history of their own regions during the earlier part of this century.

The Way It Was’ is an attempt by Paul to write a definitive work. The verdict is yours; read on.


Paud Kennelly

Author of ‘My Connemara’ and ‘More of My Connemara’


He always sat directly in front of his beloved fire which he used to build so beautifully and with so much care. Tending to his fire was one of his greatest pleasures in life, and I could watch him for an eternity because he took such a scientific approach to the whole task. Sometimes we would sit for ages just staring into the heart of it, both of us lost in our own thoughts yet glad of each other’s company. He was a great conversationalist and I was forever asking him about the old days. Football was always our favourite theme. He had a great memory and could recall events as if it was only yesterday. Sometimes he would afford himself a wry smile as he recalled certain matches and incidents. His memories went back seventy years or more. He was the last of his generation of footballers and I knew it was incumbent upon me to write it all down for future generations. He was happy for me to write his story and when I read it back to him he listened with great pride and satisfaction. Two months later he passed away peacefully. Shortly before he died, my son Luke was born, but fate decreed that John and Luke would never meet. This was a cause of great sadness to me, but I was also overcome with a great sense of relief that John’s story did not die with him and that one day Luke would be able to read it for himself.

During the past year I have been privileged to meet with so many wonderful people, and my retrospective journey has been an exciting one, and one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I will be eternally grateful to all the people who made this book possible. Thank you for your interest, your patience, your tolerance and, most of all, for your goodwill and encouragement. You gave me the will and the confidence to persevere and you kept me focused. I have always loved history, and if the book contributes in some small way to helping us understand the social evolution of rural Ireland throughout the twentieth century, then it has been a worthwhile venture and I will be forever happy that I was called upon to produce it.

Paul Gannon

October 1999

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