Weeshie's Week

Reviews of 'My Beautiful Obsession' by Fr. Anthony Gaughan

November 19th, 2012
by Fr. J. Anthony Gaughan

This is an engaging account of the life and times of the author.  Born in 1941, raised in Killarney, he began his working life in the Kerry Mineral Water Factory.  Thereafter from 1962 to 2000, he was a psychiatric nurse in St Finan's mental hospital in Killarney.  Of his time there he describes how that grim Victorian institution steadily evolved into a community-style centre before it was closed in 2012.
Weeshie Fogarty has been a sports enthusiast throughout his life and is an authority on Kerry football as is evinced by his weekly sports column in the Kerryman.  He played for the St Finan's staff team and the Killarney Legion club and later wore the Kerry jersey at minor, under-21, junior and senior grade.  His playing career was ended by a serious eye injury but subsequently he was a highly-regarded referee in Kerry and beyond.  He successfully refereed three All-Ireland Senior football semi-finals and recalls his disappointment when he was not invited to take charge of an All-Ireland final.
It is as a broadcaster that Weeshie Fogarty is best known and admired.  For more than twenty years he has been one of the lynch-pins of Radio Kerry, winning awards for sports broadcasting.  In his mid-week programme he has interviewed a host of people from all walks of life and his pen pictures of some of them, particularly the celebrities, are apposite and revealing.  An admirable story-teller, the folksy style of his conversation emerges in his writing which is also enhanced by a sprinkling of pearls of common-sense and home-spun wisdom.
Weeshie describes the excitement he felt when he attended his first All Ireland football final in 1955, his first game with Kerry in 1959 and the first live broadcast from Croke Park in 1962.  Some of his recollections of incidents are not as happy, as when he was assaulted on two occasions after refereeing inter-county football matches.  As would be expected from a sage of Kerry football, he presents the 'greatest Kerry football team' during the past fifty years with his assessment of each player backed by comprehensive statistical evidence.  Not many Kerry fans will agree with his selection of Jack O'Shea in preference to Mick O'Connell as the outstanding Kerry footballer of the modern era.
Weeshie's sporting interests are not confined to Gaelic games and he provides a knowledgeable list of 'the greatest living Kerry sports legends'.  He revived the memory of Eamon Fitzgerald, All-Ireland winning Kerry footballer and Olympian, and a cameo on him in the book clearly indicates Weeshie's affection for that remarkable athlete.  Nostalgic chapters deal with bereavements in Weeshie's extended family and the fatal illness of Liam Higgins, close friend and colleague in Radio Kerry.
For three centuries literary travellers to Ireland have ensured that the 'Lakes of Killarney' were on their itineraries.  Their comments on the places they visited, including Killarney, have subsequently provided valuable information to local historians.  In due course this book will give subsequent generations a unique insight into the remarkable interest of Kerry people in sport, in general, and football, in particular.  In the meantime, for anyone who wishes to appreciate the mystique surrounding football in Kerry this book is essential reading.

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