Mar 272013

Gormo Class CNoel had Moved to Australia a number of years ago, was living in noelPerth with his family and working with prisoners with mental health problems. Below is how Noel described himself on Facebook and having talked to him a few times during the last 12 months, I would say its fair to say neither of us had changed much over the last 38 years, we spent over an hour on Skype last February talking about the old days.

Noels description of himself on Face Book;

Definitely an acquired taste. Could a played for Leeds Utd in the 70s but concentrated on Table Tennis as foresaw Chinas rise & felt TT more beneficial for work in China.Untitled-7
Got on plane in Heathrow 1983. Dude in pub said ticket was for Bejing but was for Bombay.Worked passage to Perth & continued my missionary work which impacted greatly on my TT career.Focused on swimming which was necessary for survival.Trialled for Ireland Olympic team for LA but was knocked out by Monica Smith.
Focused on golf & took same pills & played off same handicap as as Kim Jung IL

He did not spend a great deal of time on Face Book but some of his comments could of been made 40 years ago, in August he commented about the Kilkenny hurlers ;”Why are Kilkenny so greedy. Its time they moved aside and let Longford win the hurling .Last time I was home Longford Slashers had a really good u14 team they were hoping would go on to great things. Are Kilkenny subject to regular drug testing? The last banter John O Neill and I had with him on Facebook was in late September, when I posted this picture on his Facebook profile His response was ”  Yep still barred from Mullingar! Still was worth it as life was never dull with Richie around. Highlight of Gormo trip to Rome was definitely the passion of the Communist Rally. he had earlier described Mulingar which happened in second year. I think after the Leinister Final as “our crime spree in Mullingar”. He said “I was an innocent culchie being led by cockney with no fear of the local papers. They were fun & innocent times”.

After second year Noel did not have anybody leading him anywhere. We had  some great times having fun in Gormanston, Rome, Carrick on Suir, and London in the summer of 73 and I will talk about my personal recollections of Noel. click “responses” on top right hand corner of page.

Condolences can be expressed to family  at Noel McGahern Guest Book

  4 Responses to “Noel McGahern 1956 – 2013”

  1. Friends on FaceBook will know I stopped celebrating my birthday at 30 and started again on Thursday, as it was year 1 post cancer. I was so happy, then on Sunday I completed a half marathon up the Surrey hills as part of my preparation for the Great Wall of China Marathon in May. I was on top of the world had not felt this good in years.

    Life has a way of kicking you in the bolox when you get too far ahead of yourself. Thats what happened when I checked my Phone messages. It was Pat Keenan; Noel McGahern had passed away. No way, I saw on Facebook he had been listing to some music I had never heard of on Spotify a few weeks ago. I e-mailed Dermot to check and it was true. It did not sink in at first, I thought it was cancer had left me devoid of normal emotions. When my Dad died last year I could only think, lucky bastard he was 85. When my partners brother in law dropped dead on the kitchen floor Boxing Day, I was just glad it was not me. When Pat Flynn got in touch, it suddenly hit me Noel was gone and I cried like a baby.
    The way I remember it, the Leeds / Arsenal rivalry brought us together in year 2. Him and Gerry Greene were manager and organisers of soccer matches and he did not always play me in Charlie Georges position which pissed me off. We became close in Intercert and Matric, Noel told me it was because Arsenal were struggling and Leeds were winning the league. His low point of our relation ship was Arsenal winning league in 71, my low point Leeds winning the cup in 72.

    We drifted apart in senior and until last year had not spoken to him since the last day in Gormanston. We watched the Holland v Uruguay world cup match in the common room and said we would meet up in London during the summer it never happened. Such was life pre mobiles and internet. I knew nothing about Noel until I got in touch with Dermot when we were organising the reunion in 2007. Dermot Noels twin, (did anybody ever see such a bad advert for twins, nothing similar, they fought like cats and dogs in those days). I have twin girls who fight like cats and dogs and probably the first question I asked Noel when he got in touch, how do you get on with Dermot these days, it was such a relief to know that Dermot and himself were close in regular contact despite living so far apart and he was planning to visit Dermot in New York in the summer.

    Noel got in touch in January last year on Facebook. I was in a really dark place at the time in the middle of six months chemotherapy treatment and he really lifted my sprits. We were on skype for over an hour and when I look back on that time, it was John Costeloe, Noel and my kids who got me through Chemotherapy with a smile on my face.

    Just looked through the communication I have had with Noel during the last year, about six months ago and I promised to dig out the picture of him on the bed in senior, of course I did not get around to it. Thats Pat Flynn in the background and the crap photographer was Martin O Donaghue.
    Although we had not spoken in 38 years it was like a few months since we had seen each other. Then the wild times nicking biscuits in a supermarket in Mulingar, I sent him the picture of the grumpy old man. It was probably my fault we were caught, Large Union Jack carrier bags were not a usual site in Mulingar in the early seventies and would have drawn attention as we gathered supplies for the journey home ( had not progressed to drinking at this stage of our Gormo development), shared a pack of ten major, that day I felt sick had never smoked so much in one day. What would todays politicians have made of us. I bet the Irish Minister for Health has forgotten he ever went to Gormanston by all accounts Mike Foley gave Noel a hiding when he got back to the bus after hearing what had happened, while I was on the phone to my lawyers, to sue the shop for defamation.

    My first pint of larger and lime aged, Then there was “The Party” in Carrick on Siur, at Halloween 72. My Granny gives us a free house for the night. Gormo boys bring sex, drugs and rock and roll to Sean Kellys home town and Granny returned at 9am to cook us all breakfast. Noel had a grin on his face, like the Cheshire cat who had got the cream on the concrete supports of the “New Bridge”. We joked on Skype that there must have been something in the air that nigh as of the Gormo boys who went, Fergi Mons had passed away, John Cos and I had got cancer, it was not all bad Beno had got £50,000,000 from the Anglo Irish Bank.

    The school trip to Italy in Easter of 73. I have recounted that story many times lately with the Pope so much in the news. No one believes me when I tell them why we missed the audience with the Pope. Basically we were two 16 year olds, and decided to stay at a communist rally rather than attend an audience with the Pope ( it was the girls rather than the politics that attracted us). we remembered Fr Declans face when we told him where we had been. I met him a few years ago and he remembered that.

    Then on the train journey home Michael Keogh got left on the platform and had to make his own way back. So every time the train stopped, Noel would pretend someone was still on the platform as the train pulled out and urge them to run and each time Declans head would appear out the window to see who it was, believe me it got even funnier the tenth time and eleventh time. Or awarding prizes for throwing bread rolls out the window trying to hit people in other carriages.

    Then the summers in London working in Lyons with Pat Flynn, Gerry Greene and Johnny Warren. My first joint! The girls there were much older and we told them we were at University, unfortunately the father of one of the girls was a supervisor who showed her my file when I thought it was my turn to loose my cherry at least thats what Noel told me. People who did not go to boarding school never understand the bond, we can have with some people from that time, it never goes and I had that with Noel and although I never missed it the last 38 years, I do now I know he is gone. My Birthday will never be the same again, but I have the greeting from last year and all those wonderful memories.

    “Happy birthday Richie me old mate. I am a bit lazy re fbook but must say great to reach out to far away friends. Take care and best wishes Noel”

    Noel you came back when I needed you. Thanks . I put a message on your “book of condolences” but I guess the moderator had never heard of the “shit matrics” and did not post my tribute. I am sure that would have amused you, non conformists till the end.

  2. Noel was one of the good guys (apart from that other career in Mullingar) who will be remembered by all the 1969-1974 crew. His laugh would always let you know he was around. His greatest skill at football was supporting Leeds, but he certainly enjoyed the kickabouts and matches as so many of us did. Not that long ago there was a bit of a slag about Granard when Larry Cunningham died, but with Noel’s passing Granard has really lost a treasured son. God bless you Noel.

  3. I read Richie’s excellent piece, studied the picture of Noel with his wild white hair and I thought ” bastard” that’s my t shirt, I knew he nicked it. Won’t get it back now.
    I had recently mailed Noel because I intend visiting Australia to see my son, a refugee from Eire. I was excited with the prospect of hooking up with McGahern and doing a bit of mischief. The news from John O Neill was unbelievable. My mind could not deal with the information.
    Noel and me were classmates throughout the five years of incarceration but I think it was during inter year when we realized we had a lot in common …. girls. He soon found a use for me; I was assigned teaser and when the fillies showed interest the stallion was unleashed. Worked every time. This man was streets ahead.
    Slightly less important was our love of football. Today they have stopovers and fly-past’s, Noel perfected the Rockhopper, named after the penguin mating ritual. When he executed this move defenders fell aside, laughing. The man could certainly use his body and all females were welcome.
    I will relate the tale of our weekend in Gormanston Army Camp. It typifies the sheer audacity of the man, I only tagged along. Someone suggested, (Ballygar was it you) that the FCA were paying enormous sums of money for members to work in the kitchens. McGahern and myself arrived for duty on a Friday evening hair tucked into our collars and presented ourselves to the corporal. “ Oh yes corporal we are on scholarships in Gormanston college, officer training.”It was reminiscent of an episode of Porridge with Fletcher Mc Gahern soon having the corporal dreaming of a firing squad. Later while chilling on our bunk beds, mess everywhere, the corporal arrives in. Seeing the state of us and the room he looked like he was about to explode. Noel adapting to his officer status goes “at ease corporal we are on holiday”. Ill have you Mc Gahern he screamed and was about to throttle him, when quick as a flash Noel goes “court martial, witness present” Totally demoralized he stormed out muttering threats. We laughed until we were sore. It continued in that vein for the weekend, officially we were not due to start until Monday morning.
    Monday and time for corporals revenge. We were woken at six, Gabby style, and told “uniforms on , square-bashing for you two”. Problem was we didn’t have any uniforms. The corporal was by now completely losing it and we were marched off to see the commanding officer, an Aussie called Skippy, how quaint. He sat there looking important and he had a cane with a metal head which he used as a pointer. “So where are your uniforms? “He said. Never issued any sir. The penny dropped, he looked at his sidekick and then at us “are you in the FCA” he said. No sir we just came to work in kitchens’. There was much embarrassment at high command and Noel and me had an army escort back to Granard and Cavan respectively.
    Every cloud has a silver lining they say and in our case the silver lining was Butlins. In the course of our FCA holiday we spent the time productively at Mosney where we secured jobs as kitchen porters and returned a week later to take up our posts which my friends is another story. I only wish Noel was here to tell it.
    Farewell fearless friend. Put in a good word for me with the Man. I am sure things are running much better up there now that you are bending His ear. One thing for certain, you have ensured that Lanigan will live to a ripe old age because there is no chance He could cope with the two of you.

  4. It was football that brought us together, Leeds United that is, and arranging football games after school, of course there were GAA goalposts on the pitch and no nets either, and we didnt have a proper football for ages, eventually we got a white Mitre ball and that was it. We had great times, we kept playing and never got tired, especially I remember the summer term in the evenings between study periods. Noel could turn a phrase and the humour was going on most of the time, and he could let you know how he felt, I remember one game we were losing by quite a bit, and he shouted at me “jesis yer not givin up” I wasnt giving up I never did, just relaxing a bit!
    He had it going on with the gals alright, a fair good chat up when he got going in Butlins, he could do a good doss as well as work hard as I remember, working at Lyons bakery in London with Johnny, Noel and Pat and Seven Sisters Road, and the trip to Italy, myself and Johnny missed the Popes audience
    as well, we were too tired to get up!
    I was in Bray when Ritchie left me a message, it was hard to believe, I hadnt seen Noel since we left school and I feel sad when I think of those wonderful days when we played and when it meant so much to us.


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