Depending on which way you look at it, Liam Clancy and Sean Kelly couldn’t have been more alike or had less in common.
Both were born and reared in or around Carrick-on-Suir: Sean on the Waterford side, Liam on the Tipperary bank of the river.
Clancy, carefree and outgoing, went west in search of fame and fortune and duly discovered it in spades on stages across the United States, singing songs that have been mimicked/murdered on the way home from many’s a match.
Kelly, shy but hardy out, headed east in pursuit of his own happiness, carving out a stunningly successful cycling career on the continent.
Liam later made his home in Ring, where he was buried this week. When Sean paid his respects to one of his heroes as he lay in repose on Sunday night, he was merely returning a compliment.
Exactly 21 years ago (December 8, 1988) Liam and his brothers – Paddy, Tom and Bobby – were reunited on an Irish stage for the first time in years for a ‘Bibi’ special in honour of Sean.
As Liam intimated to RTÉ’s long-lost Baskin, the televised gathering was as much a show of Carrick’s strength in the face of adversity; at that time mass unemployment. It’s a town that has always wrestled above its weight, as if knowing there’s more to be made of life than traditional hard labour, be it art or sport.