Dungarvan undertaker transforms window into hurling shrine

David Kiely’s displays holds near-century of memorabilia from county’s hurling history

Hurling memorabilia in the shop window of Dungarvan undertaker David Kiely.

Hurling memorabilia in the shop window of Dungarvan undertaker David Kiely.

 

A Dungarvan, Co Waterford-based undertaker has converted part of his funeral home, including its front window display, into a shrine to the county’s hurling history ahead of this Sunday’s All-Ireland final battle against Galway.

The display holds 90 years of carefully collected memorabilia from the county’s hurling history.

“My uncle Billy, God rest him, was a collector and when he shoved on in years he handed [the collection] to me. So, I’ve added to the collection over the years. I’ve all the All-Ireland programmes that Waterford ever appeared in, from ’38, ’48, ’57, ’59, ’63,” said David Kiely, a third-generation undertaker.

“When I was a child the team left a lasting impression on me, it gave me a love of the game. I suppose we were very lucky growing up in the 1950s where Waterford were the team as such,” Mr Kiely said.

The pride of the collection is an old spool tape recording of Michael O’Hehir’s radio commentary of Waterford’s last All-Ireland victory against neighbours Kilkenny in 1959: “They’re eagerly listened to, I can assure you,” Mr Kiely said.

David Kiely’s tribute is as much a history of Dungarvan’s connection to the county’s hurling past. There are numerous calendars from local businesses stretching back more than half a century as well as curiosities donated by them.

Huge interest

“I’m adding and adding the whole time, and anytime there’s an auction and I see any Waterford memorabilia, I’m off. The last time I actually had the display on in the window, people actually came up to give me items. It all adds to it.”

The undertaker has not always been able to see Waterford in the handful of All-Ireland finals the county has appeared in, but he will get there on Sunday.

“The nature of our funeral business here is that somebody has to be on standby. My father often had an All-Ireland ticket and would have to give it up when somebody had passed away. And I wasn’t at the ’63 one because my grandfather died the week before. As was customary in those times, one never went to an activity for up to a year after the person had died,” explained Mr Kiely.

He eventually did get to see the senior side in an All-Ireland final in the flesh in 2008, however that match quickly turned disastrous as Kilkenny easily won 3-30 to 1-13.

“I’m hoping for 2017 we’ll have a much different result. The irony of the situation is that my daughter Siobhán – the only daughter I have – she’s getting married on September 16th to Patrick Gilhooley from Athenry in Galway, so there’s great fun in our house.”