By Jimmy Rhatigan
AS LONG as there are sliotars to be pucked, life will forever and a day be a glorious helter skelter.
Throw in All-Ireland hurling Sunday when heroes of the small ball wearing Kilkenny or Tipperary colours bid to re-enact The Charge of the Light Brigade and you get an inkling of what life is like in a border area where hurling is a religion and fans of the beautiful game are soaked in pride and passion
It is all for the credit of the little village, regardless of which side of the great divide it is on.
You salute one county flag only, If blue and gold is your thing, you wouldn’t dare to sport a pair of black and amber boxers, even if granny gave them to you for your birthday.
Rivalry is powder keg-like. Passion is at fever pitch and expletives can be plentiful, usually laced with a grin or grimace and a helping of brilliant banter.
When the referee throws in the ball, all Hell breaks loose. Neighbours dig in as they court Liam MacCarthy.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Part 2 is underway.
The battle of the little big storm is drenched in gallons of pride and the weapon of war is a magic wand we call a hurley.
In the shadow of such a scenario, it may not be easy to understand how thunder and lightning can be transformed to the serene of prose and poetry in the wonderful area where CJ Kickham’s sweet pen gave us Knocknagow.
Awe-inspiring with a dollop of optimism
Pics: Donal Foley
That is where, regardless of the hue of your sporting geansaí, you ponder on the same page and ramble in the write direction with the now friendly foe you may sometimes term a noisy neighbour.
A wonderful prose, poetry and art competition in CJ Kickham’s Mullinahone, fulcrum of a hurling hot bed, proved to be a writers’ paradise.
This was thanks to the promptings of parents and teachers who encouraged children to write prose and poetry and to enjoy the arts.
Innovative penmanship was the name of the game in the Kickham Country Weekend’s first Creative Writing and Art Competition.
Such was the enthusiasm that Kickham organisers brought festivities forward from regular August anticipation to May magic.
This was to facilitate talented and imaginative young wannabe poets and authors who turned over a new leaf in the name of author, novelist and journalist CJ Kickham and local writer James Maher who kept the memory of Kickham alive with his book Romantic Slievenamon.
Aim was to keep the art of writing alive, to foster young ability. The response from young boys and girls was awe-inspiring with a generous dollop of its first cousin, emthusiasm.
The reaction from those who at another time would have wielded a quill, was sensational, heart-warming, encouraging.
Some 238 boys and girls wrote short stories. composed innocent but interesting poems or dabbled with a paint brush.
Children with roots in Callan, Windgap, Grangemockler, Kilvemnon, Mohober, Mullinahone were a magnificent mix of what we might term eggheads from Kilkenny and Tipp chickens that showed pluck and creativity as they flew on a wing and perhaps a silent prayer.
Young energy exploded and the result was a local renaissance of pencil and paper.
Students were bussed to the beautiful sports hall in Mullinahone National School from Poulacapple and Kilvemnon National Schools.
Maiden voyage is a journey of positivity
There they teamed up with Mullinahone NS that facilitated the fledgling competition.
Judges were Ms Lorna Cody, St Brigid’s, Callan, Ms Bridget Carpenter, Scoil Ruain, Killenaule and Mr Liam Purcell of Presentation Secondary School, Ballingarry.
They had their work cut out for them as they perused the offerings of young ones who represented the dioceses of Ossory, Waterford and Cashel and Emly.
There were lots of prizes and pride of place went to overall winner Edel Hayes. St Michael’s NS, Mullinahone who won a perpetual cup for her school with a very imaginative poem on Charles Kickham.
Edel was presented with a trophy sponsored by the Hon President of the Kickham Weekend Committee Mrs Sheila Foley, mother of Ann Foley Whitley, principal St John of God Convent, Kilkenny who, along with sponsor Ronan Brett of Brett’s Hardware presented 18 achievement certificates to the first and second winners in each school.
The certificates were sponsored by Brett’s Hardware.
The awards’ ceremony was on the eve of Friday’s festival blast-off when, aptly, journalist Billy Keane gave the nod for a hectic weekend of activities to reminisce and rock and roll.
MC Teckie Brett, organising committee secretary, a retired school principal but still very active Minister for Education in the Kilkenny/Tipp border area had words of wisdom for pupils, parents and members of local school boards’ of management.
She paid tribute to teachers for their input, parents for encouragement of siblings and pupils, prize winners and those who, she said would win awards in the future.
Teckie told the children they were all winners for participating and said that if they continued to try each and every one of them could eventually be winners.
She said the competition was a lesson for life, that everyone cannot be winners, but the important thing was participation.
Plan is to expand the competition.
That the positive project was steered in the write direction on its maiden voyage there is no doubt.
The Good Ship Charles J Kickham is sailing in safe waters in the hands of the Kickham Committee.