Doctor McKenna, who happily gave his name to the cup Tyrone adore so much, is an often rumoured about and mistaken figure. One legend has it that he wasn’t a real doctor at all, like Ian Paisley senior. This legend is probably correct. Today, for the first time, we reveal the man behind the silverware…
Doctor McKenna is often mistaken as being “the man who founded the IRA along with Saint Patrick in 1868”. That was the other Doctor McKenna and Saint Bridget.
This Doctor McKenna, our Doctor McKenna, actually hailed from a land across the sea. He was born into the Rappahoe people of Nevada in 1847, and in 1849 the then 10-year-old father of none, who felt he was destined for more than “just hills and buffalo”, set off for Boston and a began an apprenticeship as a silversmith.
Soon after, Mendeleev published his perodic table of the elements and the young McKenna, realising he had an allergy for all things Ag, set sail for the port of Clonmel in County Tipperary. He first set foot in Ireland in 1844 aged just 19.
Significantly for the people of Hibernia, he brought with him a clay glass with a handle on it, which he called his “wee cup”. This is credited as the introduction of the word “wee” in Ireland.
He immediately fell in love with the ignorant and foolish Irish people he met, and liked to tap his right foot to reels (never jigs) with his cup full of whiskey of an evening.
A Tyrone woman, Kitty Harte, who travelled to Clonmel in hunt of a baby, was smitten by McKenna and remained smited but not bited.
Not much is known about Kitty other than she returned to Tyrone and went mad talking about and longing for a cup and a Doctor McKenna the remainder of her days. The Tyrone natives of the time saw what the talk of the cup did to the woman. Over a million of them attended her funeral, swearing to hunt down Doctor McKenna and his cup, and drag both kicking and screaming by hook or by crook back to the O Neill County, not least for child support for all the wee McKennas.
And so it remains. Every January since, the people of Tyrone scour the land in their droves remembering the hurt and the loss caused to one of their own all those years ago.
The accuracy of the record above hasn’t been certified by the National Gallery of Ireland or Wikipedia.
A number of Armagh officials disguised in a variety of ways have been caught spying on Tyrone training this week in the run up to their much-anticipated clash in the McKenna Cup final this Saturday.
Suspicions were raised on Tuesday night when a fish and chip van pulled up outside one of the training pitches up in Garvaghey intending to sell fast food to the players and management as soon as they finished training. Although it was perceived as odd at the time, suspicions were only confirmed when assistant manager Gavin ‘Horse’ Devlin order a pastie bap, only to be told there was just one Wispa and a tin of Irn Bru on sale by a man in a thick Silverbridge accent. He was asked to leave.
On Wednesday, three Armagh officials were caught pretending to fix the boiler in the weights room during the Tyrone strength and conditioning night. Alarms were raised after half an hour when a Tyrone backroom team member mentioned there were no boilers in the building. All three were chased with a broom by Peter Donnelly. They apparently headed the direction of Maghery.
Finally, a man eating apples turned up for Tyrone training today insisting he was Sean Cavanagh, even though the Moy man had already retired two years ago. Although he uncannily resembled the novelist, the fact that he ate three apples and washed down the final one with Buckfast gave the game away. Peter Donnelly also chased him with the same broom the whole way to Lurgan.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire, who attended the McKenna Cup gaelic football final in Newry, is said to have mastered the mid-Ulster vernacular after spending only two hours in the company of GAA aficionados.
Despite a drab, one-sided game, Brokenshire appears to have come away from the fixture all the richer from the experience and was even heard to say to his taxi-driver this morning ‘two hands for f**k sake‘ when his driver attempted to steer with one hand.
His advisor and former Conservative back-bencher, Tim Battleford, admitted he was shocked at how quickly Brokenshire has embraced his new surroundings, especially after last night’s attendance in Newry at the Tyrone/Derry final:
“We were watching the tennis this morning and he just jumped out of his seat and shouted at the umpire ‘away a that a ye referee ye bollocks’. The umpire hadn’t done anything wrong. Then when we were driving to the airport he saw a lollipop man stopping traffic and he shouted out the window ‘Hi linesman, are your f**king eyes painted on?”
Later, at Aldergrove airport, Brokenshire reportedly became irate at the length of time it was taking to get his satchel through security and was heard to roar “Let it in ta f**k wud ye“, a phrase he supposedly heard someone in the crowd shout at Colm Cavanagh as Ronan O’Neill made another fruitless run in the full forward line.
Brokenshire was also spotted chatting up his cousin this morning, probably another after-effect from the McKenna final.
Following the welcome news that Tyrone GAA will be spearheaded by the brilliant Roisin Jordan, the first female chairperson of a county board in Ireland since its inception in 1884, Tyrone men have been finally consigned to the dung-heap after years of narrowly avoiding the label of being ‘good for nothing’.
Government statistics revealed that in the early part of 2014: 93% of teachers in the county were women as well as 79% of politicians including the high profile and successful Michelle O’Neill and Michelle Gildernew. 81% of county businesses had female CEOs or figureheads, 73% of GPs were women, 69% of dentists and 85% of farmers also female.
Long-time Tyrone man Cathal Corr admitted living in the county was ‘a bit scary’ but added it was only a matter of time before women took the reins in almost every facet of everyday life:
“Let’s be honest. They’ve been smarter for years. We could only hold them back through skulduggery for so long. Now with fair play and all that stuff we’ve been exposed for what we really are – good for feck all. I’m trying the rack my brains here looking for an example of something we’re better at and there’s nothing. Yesterday I was driving through Augher and I saw a pregnant woman with three sheep on her shoulders whipping a cow whilst talking on the phone to the Credit Union. Her husband was sitting behind her in the mud eating a turnip.”
Rumours that Jordan’s first move will be to order Mickey Harte to play 2-3 women in the full back line for Tyrone in the McKenna Cup have been dismissed as pure speculation.
Meanwhile, Omagh Technical College have asked that men need not apply for any courses next year unless they can prove they can write neatly without passing wind or can desist from scratching themselves whilst looking out the window at the same time.
A Tyrone man has admitted he queued for 12 hours outside a GAA ground in Donegal in heavy fog in February this year, unaware that the game had been cancelled earlier in the day.
Tommy McGaharan, an 81-year old Sligo native but living in Tyrone for 60 years, was finally made aware of the postponement when a late-night reveller recognised him from standing in the same spot 5 hours earlier on his way to the pub.
McGaharan explained why he came forward now, four months after the debacle:
“I just don’t want this happening to anyone else. I eventually completely thawed out just a couple of weeks ago so I’m fit to talk about the ordeal now.”
The East Tyrone resident explained how he drove 120 miles through freezing fog for the McKenna Cup fixture, setting out at 5am and averaging 25-30mph in his Morris Minor before reaching Ballybofey a few minutes before throw-in at 2pm.
“My motor doesn’t have a radio so I wasn’t aware of the postponing. I did think it odd that I was the only one queuing up outside the turnstile but sure these McKenna Cup games can attract small crowds at that time of the year.”
McGaharan now recalls receiving strange looks from passers-by as he stared intently at the turnstile for it to open:
“After a few hours I did start to have doubts but just thought maybe I’d gotten the throw-in time wrong. It wasn’t until 2am in pitch dark and at temperatures of -9 that a young fellow staggered my direction and told me to catch myself on and that the game had been rescheduled for the following Wednesday.”
The unlucky McGaharan’s weekend was further ruined when he checked in to a bed and breakfast at 3am only to sleep in and miss the breakfast completely.