Letterfrack locals hopeful of a visit from England hero Kane
Team captain’s grandfather emigrated to London from Galway in 1950s
Richard Maxted from England reacts as fans watch the FIFA World Cup quarter final between Sweden and England at Molly’s Bar in Letterfrack, Galway. Photograph: Hany Marzouk/PA Wire
Celebrations as fans watch the FIFA World Cup quarter final between Sweden and England at Molly’s Bar in Letterfrack, Galway. Photograph: Hany Marzouk/PA Wire
Thomas Hodgins-Byrne reacts as fans watch the FIFA World Cup quarter final between Sweden and England at Molly’s Bar in Letterfrack, Galway. Photograph: Hany Marzouk/PA Wire
Hopes are high in Connemara that England World Cup captain Harry Kane will go back to his roots when the tournament finishes.
And locals in Co Galway following his exploits are hoping that he will return as World Cup winning captain and top scorer, seven decades after his grandfather left the western seaboard seeking a better life in London.
Kane’s grandfather Michael John emigrated from Letterfrack in the 1950s and settled in north London and England’s bid for World Cup glory in Russia is being closely followed in northwest Connemara.
And the publican who has been dishing out free pints in honour of the Connemara roots of the England skipper hopes he has to give away a few barrels this week.
Gerry Lyons, who operates Molloy’s in Letterfrack with his wife Sally and son Damian, promised before the tournament started to put up a round for the house every time the 24-year old found the net.
So far he has dished out seven free rounds, even honouring Kane’s spot-kick in the dramatic penalty shootout against Colombia in midweek.
There were no free rounds on Saturday when England saw off Sweden 2-0 but Gerry, a former member of the Defence Forces who opened Molloy’s in 1991, hopes he’s pulling free pints this week when Kane and his men will hope to see off Croatia on Wednesday and reach the final for the first time since they won it in 1966.
“It’s creating great excitement and hopefully Harry can lead them all the way,” said Gerry Lyons. “Wouldn’t it be great? In a way, it’s hard to believe that a grandson of a man who left this area is the one captaining England to the semi-finals, and hopefully the final, of the World Cup.”
Harry Kane last visited Letterfrack in 2013 when he travelled over for the funeral of his grandfather Michael John, who is buried in Baunogues cemetery, a short distance outside the village on the road to Clifden.
It’s the height of the tourist season in Connemara so it’s not surprising that fans from many countries have been in the pub cheering on their teams over the past few weeks.
But the locals have been out in support of Kane and his England teammates and that prompted East Sussex native Richard Maxted to travel from his Co Clare home with his wife Deirde, who is from Limerick, to watch Saturday’s match at Molloy’s in Letterfrack
He has been living in Quin for the past 30 years but has usually found the Irish support whoever England are playing against when he watches a match in a pub.
“We heard about this pub in Letterfrack during the week so we travelled up and stayed overnight. The fact that Harry Kane’s family originally came from here and the way all the locals are supporting him is brilliant.
“Hopefully now we can go all the way and win it. The whole thing has created great excitement,” he said.
Teresa Dowding, who is from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, was also supporting England with friends in Letterfrack on Saturday.
“I’m not usually a football fan but I was aware of the Harry Kane connection with the locality and we have been here before, so it’s great,” she said.
Sean Judge, who lives in King’s Cross in London, is visiting Connemara and like Harry Kane, his family were originally from the area.
“There’s a lot of excitement about the football and the locals are out supporting Harry.”
Kieran Heanue, who operates a bike and boat hire business in the village, said that Harry Kane’s family were regular visitors to the area.
“His father Pat was back here a month ago with about 25 others. They come over regularly, particularly for the festivals so hopefully Harry might come back here after the World Cup. Wouldn’t it be great? He has a lot of relations around here and people are just thrilled for him and his family,” he said.
The local football team, West Coast United, are also supporting Kane and hoping he goes all the way.
“It’s been a great World Cup and the Harry Kane factor has added so much to it here,” said coach Joachim Lydon.