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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
I choose the brandy. “Hot Brandy,” he insists,” and fuck the sugar. Have honey, sugar is just shit.” I have hot brandy and honey. Tape recording time. This could be good.
Like the professional he is, Con closed his eyes, placed a massive hand against his forehead and have me a blast of his wisdom. He wasn’t slurring words now. Though he had every right to be. After what he’d had to drink that day lesser personages would have been very, very, ill indeed.
In order to test the tape recorder, I ask him to bellow a few words into the microphone (machines rebel against me).
“My name is Charlie Haughey”, he begins. “I am a poor man with no ambition. I live in Kerry, and please God I will never leave it. I will be obscure, but famous”.
Could you give me a brief summary of your career to date? “My career? Oh, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear. Hello? Can yo hear me? My parents, Michael and Nell – he was a miner in Wales, came home in ’23 and fought in the Civil War… on the wrong side. He was handy, mechanically, and very strong.
“I was the middle child. I went to school at seven. I wasn’t brilliant but I was average. I had a great oul’ turn for mathematics. And very stupidly, I was promoted from infants to first class when I was far too young. At 11 I was finished school – everyone else was 14.
“I was sent to secondary school when I was totally immature. I was only a child. I was sent to Castlemartyr College, near Youghal. A beautiful place, magnificient place. I jumped a huge amount of my education. It was crazy. I never learned the alphabet! I was thrown into the deep end. I didn’t sink, but I swam very badly.
“Nobody in this world has an education worse that I have. It was a joke. I hadn’t the fundamentals. I was the Golden Boy, so I survived. I was a total chancer. Passing examinations with glib little answers. Did my Leaving at 15, which was total madness. Being smart at an early age you were promoted. Madness! I was six foot three when I was 12! I played Under 16 football when I was 12. We won, and they objected that I was over-age!”