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An interview with Con Houlihan
Hot Press spoke to with the late, great sportswriter in 1984...
Declan Lynch, 13 Dec 1984
Originally, I couldn’t understand a word that he said. He’d had a few, and he has a tendancy, as a result of an innate shyness, to put his hand in front of his mouth. This, in tandem with an inscrutable Kerry accent, threw me right out. “Mother of babbling God,” I thought, “I have to perform an interview with this man, and I can’t understand a word he is saying”. I knew that the mental equipment was fine, but the thoughts were just not manifesting themselves in speech. Or, rather, he was a bit jarred.
“Are you working tonight?” he asked me, I certainly hoped so. “We’ll do it in my place. In Portabello”, he insisted.
Con is a good pro, and he knows the bottom line. You don’t churn out four columns a week at that length unless you know the bottom line. After a few more pitstops we make it to a taxi near O’Connell Bridge. Naturally, Con knows the driver, his wife, his father-in-law and his cousin in the Congo. He pays him at least a tenner for a three quid ride, and we arrive chez Con.
Portobello is one of the prettiest parts of Dublin, a tranquil spot besides the Grand Canal. It’s devoid of paranoid images, it seems to have sneaked away, while teacher with his iron ball, his heroin spike, and his nasty videos, was looking the other way.
Con lives in a Coronation-type street, but the atmosphere around Portobello is one of independence and space.
His house inside is meticulously tidy, full of paintings. Con used to paint. There is a veritable orgy of good books lining the walls. Meanwhile the ostensibly wild man is organising his mind to speak some wisdom into my tape recorder. I am still in a state of chassis because I am having severe problems about undertanding a damn word he’s saying. I know the grey matter is working, as always, overtime, but it won’t mean a thing if the words don’t swing.
Con dispenses the hospitality in the shape of, to wit, brandy, two bottles of, whiskey, one bottle of, wine, one red bottle of. My liking of this man is turning gradually into love.