Moss Keane bids farewell (repeatedly)

5 Aug

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, I had religiously followed the Irish international rugby team. My heroes were the likes of Moss Keane, Fergus Slattery, Willie Duggan and ‘The Blessed’ Oliver Campbell.

Following my arrival in Dublin, in the mid-1980’s, I was absolutely thrilled to find that these legends, although past their best on the field of play, were still very much alive and out and about around the city. One beautiful May evening, I arranged to meet an old school friend in Toner’s pub on Baggot Street. Only a few feet away from us sat Moss Keane, Peter Wheeler (the former England captain) and a few others in their company.

After Moss finished each pint, his huge frame would rise off the stool and assume a standing position. He would solemnly put on his jacket and bid farewell to all. A process of persuasion would then ensue, culminating in Moss agreeing to stay for just one more pint. The jacket would be removed and was hung up neatly.He would then resume his original seated position. This procedure was to be re-enacted repeatedly throughout a very pleasant evening.

Note: RIP Moss Keane. When we have admired a hero from afar for many years, some of us might prepare ourselves to be disappointed if ever we were fortunate enough to be in their company or to just to see them in the flesh. “Surely Moss can’t really be that larger than life.” I would tell myself.

I am happy to report that he met all my expectations.

(An edited abstract from my book: London Irish Dublin English)

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