World Cup special: Come on Harry Kane, the boy from Connemara
England captain Harry Kane who will lead out his team in the World Cup.
The World Cup kicks off today – and I now know for sure who I will be supporting. England. Regular readers of this column will know I have long-standing connections with Connemara in the West of Ireland, writes Bill Heaney.
I have even written a book about the place, but I never knew this: England captain Harry Kane’s roots are deep in Connemara at the foot of Diamond Hill in Letterfrack, the Luss of Connemara National Park.
This was the story in today’s edition of The Connacht Tribune: ‘England’ wasn’t always the answer to the perennial question facing Irish soccer supporters: what team to support when the boys in green are absent from major international tournaments?
But football fans in County Galway have good reason to get behind the ‘auld enemy’ at the 2018 World Cup, which kicks off tonight . . . because England captain Harry Kane has his roots deep in Connemara.
The Three Lions striker who last week signed a new deal for Tottenham Hotspur, whose fans sing he’s one of their own, is in fact one of our own and has relatives living in Letterfrack and Renvyle.
Kane’s grandfather, Michael John, was born and reared in the townland of Dawros in Letterfrack and emigrated to England as a young man.
In May 2013, Michael John died and was brought back home to be buried in Baunogues, the local cemetery in Letterfrack and Kane, who was less well known back then, flew West for the funeral.
His relatives and the wider community in Connemara are proud as punch of the soccer superstar’s scoring prowess and are looking forward to him returning to the area soon . . . possibly with the World Cup trophy!
One of his cousins is Liz Kane, a talented musician, who along with Yvonne makes up The Kane Sisters. Liz said the build-up to the World Cup in Connemara has so far been low-key but she admitted Harry Kane’s extended family will be glued to the telly for the matches.
“We will of course be watching – definitely. It’s huge, absolutely it is, and to be captain as well. We’re super proud of him and his achievements,” Liz told The Connacht Tribune.
“Someone said to me the other day that it gives us a reason now to support England because their captain is a Connemara man – it’s hilarious,” laughed Liz.
She added the local hostelries will probably be buzzing during the England games. “Harry’s father Pat, and his brothers Michael and John, who are based in London, are real sociable lads when they come home.
“I know Molloy’s pub in Letterfrack village will be supporting Harry no end. Veldon’s (in Letterfrack) and all the pubs in Tullycross and Renvyle probably will as well!”
I have myself enjoyed the odd pint of Guinness in Veldon’s and Peter, the late, lamented boss of the premises sent over a couple of bottles of wine one night I was doing a show with Josephine DeCourcy on Connemara Community Radio across the way.
Like almost everyone I know, I have been considering who to support when the TV coverage takes off. Now I know.
It will have to be England and Harry Kane. I almost feel as if I am related to him now.
Many Scots will feel more comfortable supporting England now they know they are led by an Irishman.
- How are things in Connemara by Bill Heaney is available at Clifden Bookshop and at Kenny’s and Charlie Byrne’s in Galway. You can also place an order on the books page at The Dumbarton Democrat website democratonline.net or firstname.lastname@example.org