Legends in their Spare Time

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Legends in their Spare Time

Legends in their Spare Time centres on the lives and golfing times of nine of Ireland’s greatest amateur golfers. Extraordinary men and women who worked for their living, yet enjoyed amazing recognition as sporting superstars in their spare time.

The latest print run of the bok contains an exclusive CD, featuring interviews and tributes to the nine legends. All orders of this republished edition of Legends in Their Spare Time will receive an exclusive copy signed by the author, Shane O'Donoghue






“Golf traditionalists rejoice in the rich heritage of the game’s roots, but few can discuss the achievements of those who toiled at the game as top class amateurs. O’Donoghue, a golf commentator at the BBC, has crafted a wonderful book on Irish amateur golfers, many so beloved by their countrymen but hardly known elsewhere.

Joe Carr, Jimmy Bruen, Philomena Garvey and Noel Fogarty are possibly recognized by golf cognoscenti, but once you read about their Championship exploits, you will gain a greater appreciation.

The author received contributions from Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and others about the players in the book and Pádraig Harrington provided the foreword. The book is laden with photographs, career-highlight listings and many other treasures. My suggestion is to settle into that easy chair by the fire, with a tumbler of Irish whiskey, along with this magnificent work, and read on. You won’t be disappointed.”

Les Schupak, The Met Golfer magazine, New York.

”Legends in their Spare Time is precisely that…a nostalgic and entertaining stroll through the lives and star-studded careers of golfers of distinction, all Irish and nine-to-five amateurs.

Volume One of TV commentator Shane O’Donoghue’s first book on Ireland’s golfing icons dismisses the claims of Tour pros like Harrington, O’Connor, Clarke and Rafferty, but for good reason. They have gained financially from the game, whereas the champions of Shane’s choice, nine of them, have played it at their own expense and for the sheer joy of the challenge. Author O’Donoghue has backed a winner, for sure.”

Jack Magowan, The Belfast Telegraph

“At a time when so much focus in the world of golf is on the professional game, it is good to see that the amateurs are not being forgotten.

Well-known broadcaster and journalist Shane O’Donoghue’s book Legends In Their Spare Time has just been published and salutes the achievements of nine outstanding Irish male and female golfers.

O’Donoghue, a native of Clonmel and a very useful five 5 handicap player himself, takes an in-depth look at the careers of Jimmy Bruen, Joe Carr, Jody Fanagan, Noel Fogarty, Philomena Garvey, Garth McGimpsey, Mary McKenna, Arthur Pierse and David Sheahan.

The author has clearly been exhaustive in his research of his nine subjects and has also come up with a number of previously unpublished pictures which help to make this a particularly fascinating read.

The magnificent life and times of Jimmy Bruen have previously been saluted by George Crosbie in his outstanding book The Bruen Loop but one can never hear too much of the exploits of a man who scaled the game’s heights with a swing that was not exactly orthodox. Very much the same applies to Joe Carr, who was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame in Florida. A flamboyant character who, like Bruen, never worried unduly about the niceties of the golf swing, Joe was so effective that he captured three British
Amateur Championships and made a record number of appearances in the Walker Cup.

Jody Fanagan, Garth McGimpsey, Arthur Pierse and David Sheahan also made their mark in the Walker Cup. But Noel Fogarty never enjoyed that honour, almost certainly because the Royal Dublin man was at his prime at a time when Irish golfers needed to be twice as good as those from across-channel to gain recognition. However, the pictures in the book of ‘Fogo’ in action in his profession as a bookmaker and carrying his bicycle to victory after a crash in the one mile Irish championship will delight all those who have the privilege of knowing this great Irish sportsman.

Then there are the ladies, Philomena Garvey from Baltray and Mary McKenna from Dublin. Philomena, now 81, once withdrew from a British & Irish Curtis Cup team because the badge on the blazer was the Union Jack. That took courage and sacrifice but as we read in O’Donoghue’s book, when Phil’s offer of wearing the badge from her previous Curtis Cup appearance that carried an Irish emblem was turned down, she never hesitated.

The Ladies Golfing Union immediately learned the error of their ways, the old badge was restored and as a consequence, a whole legion of other Irish lady players never had to face that problem in the course of their own illustrious careers.”

Charlie Mulqueen, The Irish Examiner.

“Professional golf is so overwhelmingly covered worldwide and top class amateur golf is so skimmed over in the Irish media these days that followers who were not around and playing the game in the 1960s, could not possibly imagine that ‘before TV’ amateur golf in Ireland received more publicity than the paid ranks and was played in front of crowds as big as those that watched almost any pro tournament apart from The Open Championship. It was a completely different era. The game was different. Attitudes were different. Although nowhere near that vintage, Shane O’Donoghue the RTE broadcaster and journalist, a native of Clonmel and a tidy 5-handicap player at Hermitage GC, has done Irish golf a huge service by producing his book – Legends In Their Spare Time, a fitting tribute to a selection of nine of Ireland’s greatest amateur golfers. Thanks to the priceless contacts he has made through his TV work at The Open for the BBC and the valuable assistance of his trusty tape recorder, O’Donoghue has managed to collect an astonishing amount of fascinating, personal anecdotes and quotes that would have been lost forever otherwise. Speaking to so many famous, golf enthusiasts must have been a time consuming task. The over-riding spirit of his book can be put into one word, enthusiasm! And, please note the exclamation mark because I have never seen so many in one place before. But it is that kind of book; full of glowing reminiscences by golfers who speak passionately about the game they have loved and the players they have admired most.

Nobody reflects that different era better than Noel Fogarty, the jovial, larger than life but tough as steel Dublin bookie who put so much pressure on a 19-years old Jack Nicklaus that he forced an unmentionable (shank) out of the Blond Bomber; probably the only time in his life that Jack hit one, too! There I am, putting in unnecessary exclamation marks myself but the startling news of a Nicklaus shank deserves it!

Nothing encapsulates the different ethos of the 1960s better than two stories dramatically and colorfully told by ‘Fogo’ about a memorable overnight trip made by train to Cork to play in the Douglas Scratch Cup and another journey in a borrowed Mercedes to the Castletroy Scratch Cup; great fun altogether. I must nail my colours to the mast. I did not like Joe Carr. On the three occasions I went head-to-head with him in important matches (loss, loss, win) he did not treat me with much respect but I am glad to be reassured by the contents of this book that it was ‘nothing personal.’ Carr deliberately made use of his reputation and swaggering confidence to intimidate nervous opponents. He expected to beat you and made sure you knew it. Carr discovered the psychology of winning before most and knew how to use it. He possessed a killer instinct that he used mercilessly. The book illustrates time and time again that as captain of Ireland and Walker Cup teams he was an inspiring and generous leader to the guys who were lucky enough to play under him. He gave them dollops of ‘Carr psychology’ and with it a winning approach to golf. Through the force of his considerable personality, Carr dragged the GUI (kicking and screaming?) into the modern era and was responsible for the elite coaching panel system that developed the likes of Walton, Rafferty, Clarke, McGinley and Harrington, as successful world-beating professionals.

It was wonderful to have some new insights into the personality of the legendary James Bruen. Although, the most gentle, courteous and charming of men off the course, Bruen was capable of occasionally terrorizing spectators with his Cork curses as much as with one of his booming drives when things went awry. I was particularly interested to read that John Jacobs told O’Donoghue that the famous Bruen loop was a more rhythmical and orthodox looking action than Jim Furyk’s. In life and in golf, timing is everything and Shane O’Donoghue’s timing is perfect.

So many of the wonderful stories he has recorded would have been lost forever if he had not written this book. How appropriate that in-depth looks at the careers of Jody Fanagan, Philomena Garvey, Garth McGimpsey, Mary McKenna, Tipperary’s Arthur Pierse and Dr. David Sheahan were also undertaken. But there is always a problem with a book like this. Inevitably, other worthies are left out. There’s no John Burke, no Cecil Ewing, no Tom Craddock, no Patsy Mulcare, no Bryan Malone, no Vincent Nevin, no Rupert Staunton. The Carr’s (Roddy and Joe) express an illuminating, sidebar opinion on Limerick Golf Club’s Vincent Nevin which is especially interesting because a la Max Boyce, I was ‘there’ as one of Vincent’s traveling companions at so many championships.

All in all, the book left this reader wanting more from Shane O’Donoghue who had the foresight to insert Volume 1 on the cover of this timely tribute. That’s the only reason I remained calm enough to get through the whole book without ranting about the omissions. I look forward to No. 2, especially if it turns out to be as entertaining. With the material that is available, there is no reason why it shouldn’t.”

Ivan Morris, The Limerick Leader

An eye on the birdies at the launch of Shane’s book

“Golf was at the forefront of the sporting world this week, with British Open champion Pádraig Harrington and his wife Caroline celebrating the birth of their second son, Ciaran, much to the delight of older brother Paddy. Sadly, Pádraig couldn’t attend the launch of his friend Shane O’Donoghue’s first book, Legends in their Spare Time, on Tuesday evening—no doubt he was busy changing nappies!

Pádraig was represented by his brother-in-law, Ronan Flood, who is also his caddy and was recently awarded European Tour Caddy of the Year.
Well-known sports presenter Shane was joined by his wife, Clare Louise, and over 200 guests in the impressive historical setting of the first seat of the Irish Parliament: the Bank of Ireland in Dublin’s College Green.

The event, which was attended by many from the Irish golf scene, was hosted by broadcasting icon and golf enthusiast, Gay Byrne.
Guest speakers on the night included former Ryder Cup Vice Captain Des Smyth and BBC TV golf commentator—and former British Amateur champion—Maureen Madill. Shane’s RTE colleagues were out in force, including Ryan Tubridy, with whom Shane previously worked on the radio programme, The Full Irish, Sean O’Rourke, sporting legend Micheal O Muircheartaigh and Sean Og O Ceallachain.

Former president, Dr Patrick Hillery, was also in attendance with his elegant wife Maeve, as were Minister of State Noel Ahern and Tipperary hurling legend, Babs Keating.

From the world of business were General Manager AIB Billy Andrews, CEO Irish Sports Council John Treacy and Head of Bord Gais Energy Supply, David Bunworth. Proprietors of The Heritage Golf and Spa Resort, Tommy and Angela Keane and general manager Donagh Davern also made an appearance, while Michael Davern represented the K Club.”

Angela Phelan, Irish Independent


Shane O’Donoghue is a friend, a supporter and a real pro. His group at Niche Media has been part of our Faldo Series team. With their help we have told a story of a global effort to provide opportunity through golf and join the international effort to grow golf. They illustrate the vision.


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