Coming out of the lift at Waterford Treasures excellent exhibition – Blaze Of Glory, Celebrating Waterford Sporting Achievements, I was wowed by the impressive Grand National Trophy 1895 won by Joe Widger for the victory of his horse, Wild Man From Borneo and by Sean Kelly’s bike from his 1989 glory in the Tour De France.
There is so much sporting achievement packed into one floor and a children’s tug-of-war from the fifties filled me with hope and nostalgia. Not a photo of champions in a gallery of champions but children from the Castle Street area playing and having fun. I recognised a young Power, a Gleeson, an O’Connor, a Daniels and a Halligan.
A photo of the 1959 All-Ireland Hurling Team is a hymn to success and one of the first events where I learned to feel proud to be a Waterford person. Jackie Condon, John Barron, Frankie Walsh and Seamus Power, among legends of a lifetime.
Boat Club memorabilia features strongly with a 1903 Fancy Fair booklet among glorious trophies. My late father introduced me to rowing and my brother, Ray, was a Boat Club member for years.
The soccer selection is wonderful and there are some fine shots of heroes of my youth. Alfie Hale, Shamie Coad and the brilliant John O’Neill. An Advert for Summerland Bread caught my eye as did a memo from a soccer celebration listing Europa melon, Salmon A La Garveys, Dog Track Peas, Bolger Trifle and Coad Fruit Salad.
A section on the Waterford and Ferrybank hurling legend, Andy Fleming, has pride of place beside Waterford Dramatic Society programme for Alice Ware’s forgotten play, Blaze Of Glory.
But bang up-to-date is a John O’Shea 1998 Premier medal and a 2002-2003 Ireland Cap.
Sean Egan – On the ground floor of the gallery, the Waterford Master Engraver, Sean Egan, has set up his stall from his Crystal days. In one way it is so sad the Glass is gone and now moved into a museum, but Sean Egan represents the proud tradition of a master craftsman who can carry on a skill that once made Waterford world famous. Go and see him, give him some engraving work and feel the connection to our famous city.