By Jimmy Rhatigan
WEDNESDAY may not have been St Swithin’s Day.
But the evening certainly belonged to a young man called Eoin Swithin Walsh who was launching his first book.
July 15 birthday St Swithin, sometimes spelled Swithun, patron saint of something or other and famous for a weather lore proverb which says that if it rains on St Swithin’s day it will teem down for 40 days.
The man to consult on that one is Ripley of Believe it or Not fame.
In the meantime the focus is on one Eoin Swithin Walsh, originally from Clogga, Mooncoin whose book Kilkenny, In Times of Revolution1900 to 1923 was ushered onto the market by local historian, author and retired school principal, Jim Maher of Harry Boland Biography fame.
Eoin, a past pupil of historian Diarmaid Ferriter, a lecturer at University College, Dublin, is now an usher in Dáil Éireann.
The author is a member of the Walsh Clan in South Kilkenny where in his Clogga place of birth alone there are four Walsh families, none of them related.
So it was no surprise that there was a big South Kilkenny entourage in Dubray Books at the Market Cross Shopping Centre on a mild and rain-free evening when friends, Romans, countrymen and lots of relatives went to support one of their own.
Book worms travelled from Mooncoin, Kilmacow, Hugginstown, Piltown and Ballyhale, all happy to purchase a smashing lump of Irish history between two covers for the bargain price of €19.99.
The book features The Battle of Kilkenny City 1922 and Eoin was delighted to meet granddaughters of Tom Treacy, an IRA veteran and Declan Lacey, originally from Dunningstown, grandson of Hannah Murphy from the same place who was Kilkenny City Captain of Cumann na mBan.
But to return to the Swithin part of Eoin’s name before it is confined to any history book, it is worth noting that the handle, call it what you will, was added to distinguish one particular family from the parish of Walsh families.
Eoin’s grandfather, Bill Walsh was born on Swithin’s Day and became known far and wide as Bill Swithin Walsh.
Hence Eoin Swithin Walsh, not only because of the family connection but, come in Ripley, he was born on St Swithin’s Day also and the Swithin bit is included on his birth certificate.
Supporting the grandson of Swithin were his parents Paul and Kathleen Walsh, part of a great posse of family members, neighbours and pals.
Máistir Meachair did the honours, Eoin said a few well chosen words of thanks and Charlotte Tyler Walsh gave a beautiful rendering of Grace, which sings the praises of Joseph Plunkett and 1916.
There was an excellent turnout and Eoin was particularly happy to be supported by retired school principal Tom Walsh who coincidentally was taught by Jim Maher in third class of Kilkenny CBS Primary many moons ago.
Welcome too were Eoin’s old history teacher John Kennedy, Kilmacow and Martin Gordon, a son of Piltown who was his woodwork teacher in the then Mooncoin Vocational School, later to be baptized Coláiste Cois Siúire.
The neatly presented and excellently written book is on sale at our Book Centre and Dubray Books and will shortly be available in supermarkets in Callan, Castlecomer, Thomastown and Graignamnagh, all mentioned in one chapter or other of the Swithin spectacular.