I heard the yarn about a different breed of matchmaker altogether about 20 years ago during a great night in the musical village of Kilfenora in North Clare. I relished it hugely because I knew it to be true in every detail.
I was even supplied with the names of the parties involved, the boy, the girl and the pragmatic matchmaker. At the time I was writing my only novel entitled "Final Moments" about Gaelic football events.
The yarn fitted like a glove so I embedded it in one of the chapters of the novel and then forgot about it. That was until last week when my eye was trapped totally by a GAA match report about a county final in the west.
I changed the names of the parties involved, of course, in the novel, and now I change them again and name the matchmaker as Johnny Doran and the matched couple as Con and Deirdre.
Returning to the relevant facts of the matter, it is central to the yarn that Johnny was the chairman and leading stalwart of his parish GAA club and Con, when the events begin, is the captain of the team. He has the heart of a lion, a lot of skill, great determination and fire and he was described to me as "a lovely class of a lad.”
All footballers at all levels have their strengths and weaknesses no matter what the code. Con's glaring weakness when the going got hot in important games was that he was, as the saying goes, "as slow as a wet week.”
He had no pace at all to speak of, and so when the ground dried up in the spring and summer for the vital games of the leagues and championships he was constantly being out-paced at wing-back by speedy forwards. It broke his heart and it cost his team a fair few games.
Deirdre, a neighbor's child who attended the same primary school when they were young, would have attended a lot of the football matches except for the Sundays when she was just starting to bloom in her own right as an athlete. She was such a good runner, especially over 800 meters, that by the time she was 25 she had won a string of county and regional titles and was placed highly at national level, once winning a silver medal over her favored distance.
I never met her myself but she was praised to me as being "a real whippet of a young one.” Those were the words used, and I bet ye can now see where the yarn is going.
The facts are that Johnny Doran took Con aside one Sunday after Mass in the chapel and said he had been told by his wife that Deirdre had broken off a line with her then boyfriend because the only man she was interested in across two parishes was Con, who was a shy class of a lad at the time with no girlfriend at all.
Johnny also sent a message through a third party to Deirdre saying that Con was interested in doing some running as part of his training, to speed himself up, and could she help out? And of course she was willing to help out the local team captain.
Soon they were to be seen out running together in the evenings, Con always trailing behind, and from there it was a short sprint to the first date and the walk up the chapel aisle on a popular wedding day in the region.
So I embedded that story in the novel and embroidered it a bit as yarn spinners do. And then forgot all about it until the match report caught my eye last week, and dammit I laughed out loud.
You see, the parish team won a county minor title – that's for teenage players – and the star of the show was the son of Deirdre and Con, doubtless watching proudly from the sideline with Johnny Doran.
And the reporter covering the game said that the St. Kieran's defense could not cope at all with the sheer pace of the young fellow, who scored no less that a goal and seven points! I am quite certain that the parents of the young hero were not one bit more delighted at the win than the shrewdest matchmaker of them all.
I'll leave it at that and please note there was no mention at all here this week about the attempted matchmaking of a new Irish government. They should call upon the services of Johnny Doran!