Willie Moore – Model member
of the Ballybeg community
“I fell in love with Ballybeg many years ago, and my love for the area is as strong as ever. If anything it is getting stronger with every days that passes.”
That was the heartfelt declaration of Willie Moore, the Ballybeg activist and chairman of St Saviour’s FC when I caught up with him last week. Willie was born in Bunclody, Co Wexford in September 1954, the son of Joanne and Jim Moore. His mother died in 1981 but his father is still active at the age of 85 years.
“I have three brothers, Michael, Pat and Jimmy. Michael lives in Dublin, and he is a member of the St Ann’s GAA Club. Pat lives in Ferns and he is deeply involved with Ferns United and the Wexford Junior League, while Jimmy resides here in Waterford. We have four sisters, Trish, Ann, Mary and Bridget. Trish is married to Sam Lynch who was a member of the great Wexford hurling team of the 60s. Ann’s husband Jack O’Brien is heavily involved with underage hurling in Wexford and Ann herself is involved with the young camogie teams. Trish and Bridget live in Enniscorthy. Mary [called Molly by the family] buried her husband two years ago, leaving her to bring up a young family. I would like to think we are a close family, and try to help each other out when the need arises.
“I went to school in St Mary’s NS in Bunclody but left when I was 13 years old. I got a job as a messenger boy in Bunclody and in 1969 I came to Waterford to work in the old Breens Hotel on the Quay. I was employed there as a hall porter for two years and I got the bug for hotel work and moved on to The Glen of the Downs Hotel in Co Wicklow to work as a wine waiter. My next job was in the Midland Hotel on Dominick Street in Dublin. All of the famous soccer players used to eat and drink there because it was very near Dalymount Park, and I got to know Turlough O’Connor very well along with Johnny Giles’s father.
“The owner of the hotel was Dermot Cross and he was on the Drumcondra team that won the League of Ireland in 1963, a team which included our very own John O’Neill. The manager was a man called Dennis Duffin who happened to be a fanatical Waterford FC supporter. He gave me a job as an apprentice barman and I loved it but one day I bought ‘The Munster Express’ in Dublin and saw that a pub in Waterford was looking for a barman with some experience. I told Dermot and Dennis that I wanted to apply for the job and there were tears all around, both from me and the two men because we got on great together, but the fact that Waterford held a special place in heart of Mr Duffin probably made the move possible.
“I eventually landed the job with Longeran’s Bar on the Quay and I can honestly say that the decision I made in late 1973 was the best decision I have ever made. Later on I worked in the Oznam Bar on Thomas Street and Katie Reilly’s on the Tramore Road. I went working in the building trade when I finished with the bar work, but unfortunately a bad injury some years ago brought a halt to that and now I am employed in the industrial cleaning business. Waterford won me over when I worked in Breens, so perhaps I always wanted to live here, even if I did not know that back in the late 60s,” said Willie, as we continued our conversation.
“I married Breda Burns from Slievkeale in 1976 and we have three children, Keith (34) Sandra (32) and Sinead (22). We have four grandchildren Shannon, Abbey, Holly and Ellie. Sandra is married to Davy ‘Squealer’ Walsh, the former Waterford United player, and the coach with Waterford Crystal FC. Sinead graduated with a Hairdressing Degree from Peter Marks recently and needless to say we are very proud of her, as indeed we are of all of our children and grandchildren.
“Breda and I moved to Ballybeg in 1980 and we found home from home straightaway. Areas like Clonard Park were beginning to grow and we felt part of the Ballybeg community from day one. I joined the St Saviour’s GAA Club and I will never forget the kindness shown to me by Michael Brophy. He worked in ‘The Munster Express’ but the work he put into the club was incredible. The Jacob family, the Corcorans and the Powers also made me part and parcel of the club, but one remark still makes me laugh to this day. It was made by Benny Brophy, Michael’s son: ‘You are the worst hurler ever to come out of Wexford’ he told me one evening. It was a remark made in jest, but it was true,” Willie laughs.
On the soccer scene Willie first joined the St Paul’s Club with his father-in-law Jimmy Burns. “It was during the mid to late 70s and we had some great times together. I used to love watching Tycor FC and Johnville when I first came to Waterford and I suppose it was marked out that one day I would get involved with the St Saviour’s soccer club and that happened in the early 90s. I helped with fundraising and I have now finished up as chairman. We had very little at that time when I joined but thanks to people like Bobby Kennedy and Gunner Callaghan we now have a lease on the pitch and a superb clubhouse and on the field we are doing well. Winning the Ardagh Cup two years running has given us all a boost. I believe the club is going in the right direction.”
In recent years, Willie has come to prominence on a number of fronts. In the last Local Elections he did extremely well and almost secured a seat on the City Council. For many years since his move to Ballybeg he has got deeply involved with the Parish Council and Residents’ Association. “Doing so well in the Local Elections was good, but I believe my main strength is working on the ground with the people for the people of Ballybeg. The Parish Council had great folk like Jimmy Fitzgerald, Martin O’Regan and Teddy Smith. The Residents’ Association had inspirational people like Tommy English and Pat Davis. Dan and Brige Dowlin were two more wonderful people who thought me how to love this community all those years ago.
“From time to time we get setbacks, like the graffiti vandals who destroyed the boxing club walls last week, and attempted to destroy the Community Centre a while back. Anti-social behaviour and illegal dumping are two other areas which can bring the area into the limelight for all of the wrong reasons but the majority of the people of Ballybeg are really good people. They are the salt of the earth and you could not wish to meet better in any part of this city, or any other city for that matter. As I said earlier the best move I ever made was coming to live and work in Waterford and the big plus was coming to live in Ballybeg with Breda and rearing our family here. I am nicknamed ‘Bunclody’ Moore by the people here in Ballybeg, which is a bit of a laugh. Who knows, someday I might become known as ‘Ballybeg’ Moore!”