SOME of Offaly’s greatest ever footballers gathered in Rhode last Saturday night for the launch of a new book by a football stalwart from the village.
Doyle’s Pub was the venue for the launch of “The Rhode Way”, a book written by Brian Darby, a long serving Offaly and Rhode footballer, who only retired from county football in 2017, though he did make a brief return for the qualifiers this year.
“The Rhode Way” is an attractively produced book that features interviews with the eight Rhode men that have won All-Ireland Senior Football Championship medals – Paddy McCormack, Eugene Mulligan, Martin Heavey, Jody Gunning, Seamus Darby, Johnny Mooney, Stephen Darby and Charlie Conroy.
Paddy McCormack was unable to attend the launch as the legendary “Iron man of Rhode” is facing into a battle with illness and the various speakers extended their best wishes to him during the formal part of the evening.
The other seven were also present along with many of the great performers from the current golden Rhode generation who have dominated Offaly football for the past twenty years.
Brian Darby was joined by his parents Stephen and Carmel and other family members as his book was launched to great fanfare.
Principal of Ballybryan National School, he decided to write the book when he became aware that young school children had very little knowledge of the heritage of the Rhode area and the legends that were living in their midst.
The book is an attempt to remedy that and it includes recollections of Brian’s memories and experiences growing up, a profile of another famous Offaly and Rhode footballer, the late Mick Casey, plus stories about the importance of ESB and Bord na Mona to Rhode down the decades, Brian’s proposals for a new inter-county football structure and much more.
It is very well written and is on sale at 15 euros locally. A raffle and auction also took place on the night with proceeds going to the Childhool Cancer Foundation.
Brian Darby told last week’s gathering that he was delighted to see such a turnout and he recalled getting the idea for the book after an hour long discussion with Paddy McCormack at a training session one night. He was intrigued by the stories he heard and decided it would be a good idea to get his memories and the other All-Ireland medal winners down on paper.
He outlined that the book is also about the characters and groups that form such an important part of rural Ireland and he stated that it is suitable for adults and children alike. He hoped the book would help educate people about what has made Rhode the vibrant community it is.
He spoke about the enjoyment he got from putting the book together and he hoped that people would enjoy it.
The master of ceremonies was Rhode GAA chairman Joe Malone who spoke about the history of Rhode GAA Club and the people who have helped make it such a fantastic club. He described the book as a record of what has been achieved and he praised Brian Darby for undertaking the project.
The book was launched by well known RTE commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh. In a long speech, he talked about the advent of GAA histories for club and counties under the GAA presidency of Paddy Buggy in the early 1980s as centenary year (1984) approached.
He spoke about the contribution Rhode players have made to the GAA in Offaly and nationally and he said he was delighted to visit Paddy McCormack earlier that day. He hoped that young people would be inspired by the achievements of Paddy McCormack and other people featured in the book.