Din Joe (Denis) Fitzgibbon 1921-1998
Better known as Din Joe, Denis Fitzgibbon was a former Pres boy, who played for the Munster Schools side. He joined and played with Dolphin until he moved to Dublin in 1943. He also played for the Munster Junior’s and won a Cork Charity Cup medal with Dolphin in 1940 and also featured in the Senior Cup semi-final against Young Munster. He was knocked out in a collision with an opponent, there was obviously no concussion protocols in those days, he came around with someone standing over him with a “wee bottle” as he said himself.” I lowered its contents, never have I tasted anything like it”, then he went on the score a try which secured the victory. the match winning try. They were beaten by UCC 8-6 in the final with Fitzgibbon kicking a penalty.
When he left for Dublin, he did not even have a train ticket, taking a lift in a lorry. He got a job as an Accountant with Batchelors Foods before moving to Fords Smithfield Motors. He started as an Accountant and then moved into sales and ended up as Sales Manager. He set up on his own in the motor trade before selling his interest and joining Radio Eireann.
In the early 1950’s he was appearing on a quiz show panel on Radio Eireann, he had a distinctive voice with his clear Cork accent. In 1953 he was hosting his own live radio entertainment show “Take the Floor”
“Lift the latch, open the door, step right in and take the floor “the famous opening lines. They experimented with television in the late 60’s but quickly returned to radio and the programme continued until 1978.
He became Sales Director for Volkswagen in 1960 + Managing Director of Toyota Ireland in 1975. He also served as chairman of the Marketing Institute of Ireland.
He passed away in 1998 aged 77.
Gerry Harrington 1960- 2021
Gerry, as his friends would know was from Castletownbere, and proud of it. His parents moved to Finchley in London when he was 3 or 4 but Gerry was home every summer growing up and used to work on the family farm or on the boats. He was a very accomplished swimmer, on the radar of the British Swim Association, following an injury he decided to concentrate on rugby and spent eight years on the Saracens 1st side before returning to Cork when he was 30. The period of his life in England left him sounding anything but a West Cork man, I can remember many times when he would say to me “Ger, will you tell them I am from Castletownbere”.
He had three passions in life, his family, rugby and The Arsenal.
It is sad that you only learn things about someone at their funeral. While we all knew of his love for Áine and the family, but we did not know how soon they realised they were the one for each other, in that they were engaged after five weeks and married after 18 months.
He played Senior for Dolphin for a period before taking up refereeing for a couple of seasons before he started coaching. His abilities as coach come to the fore with the success of his U 15 squad in 2012-13 . They almost had the perfect season, winning 17/18 games, the sole blemish being the league semi-final to Skibbereen, but they got revenge in defeating them in the cup final.
Gerry was the instigator of the U15 + U16 Tours in 2013 +14 to Wales + England playing Penclawdd Tonyrefail and Newbridge. Many of the parents of this group showed their appreciation to his dedication and commitment by attending the Services.
He moved to coaching adult sides, starting with the J2’s. He had a couple of successful seasons with them, bringing great structure, the players looking forward to pre-season as it would mean the legendary bonding sessions in West Cork. He joined Steve Ford’s Senior set up as a specialist coach and responsibility for the J1’s. Following a few seasons where fielding a J1 side was a problem, Gerry had them working together as the most successful J1 side for years. He was invited into the Sundays Well set up as a Specialist Coach for a couple of seasons before his illness took over.
Hopefully Áine and the family will have taken solace from the numbers who formed the guard of honour at Dennehy’s Cross Church. The Dolphin members, the J2’s and Cait’s teammates in addition to the Sundays Well players he most recently coached, but there was no representative from The Arsenal.
Liam in his eulogy, finished by quoting Gerry speaking at his father’s funeral, when he finished simply by saying “ thanks Dad”, on behalf of all the players he coached and all his many friends in Dolphin, “Thanks Gerry”
Dolphin Legends – Squadron Leader William (Bill) Igoe
Born in 1911 in Nenagh, Bill was educated at Pres Bray, where he started showing his abilities at rugby and was selected for Leinster Schools against both Connacht + Munster in 1928-29. He moved to Cork and studied Engineering at UCC and joined Dolphin where he won a Munster Senior Cup medal in 1930-31 and completed the double by winning a Munster Junior Cup Medal with Nenagh Ormond the same season.
He received a scholarship to study aeronautical engineering at the London College of Aeronautical Engineering. Having qualified 2nd in his class he opted for a commission in the RAF . He joined in October 1933 and started learning how to fly. A year later he had earned his wings and was confirmed as a pilot officer, flying fighters and then Flying Boats.
At that time he was spending as much time playing rugby as he did flying, playing for London Irish, RAF and Hampshire. It was the rugby and not the flying had him in hospital three times with broken bones in the following year.
He represented the RAF at rugby and boxing and then took an interest in squash and played it to a high level. After a few pints one evening in Spring 1935 in the isle of Wight where he was based he learned another flying boat was missing. He and a crew mate realised they had seen the other boat and they were waving at them. They went to their CO to tell him what they knew.
They offered to fly back, the CO said, are you playing rugby for the station tomorrow, without you Igoe, we will probably lose, so you are staying here. He played the following day but never flew a flying boat as he was injured in the game and when he was released from hospital he was sent back for a refresher course on a single seat fighter. His next game of rugby was for the RAF in Egypt.
In September 1935 he was back in Essex, back at out half for London Irish first side, he was offered a place in the final Irish Trial but was unable to attend due to service commitments. According to his son Brian in his book “To fly is everything” It cost him an Irish cap, the man who was picked for Ireland was playing on the London Irish 2nd team.
He was very lucky in 1937 to walk away from a plane crash, the plane had been on fire, he rolled in the grass to put out the flames on his clothes. He had significant 3rd degree burns and it was touch and go and he spent four months in hospital.
In the 1938/39 season he was vice captain of London Irish, nine of the team were lost in the 2nd World War.
He went from flying officer to Squad Leader in 54 weeks. He had another close encounter in 1940 at RAF Biggins Hill, there was a bombing raid going on and he and a flight sergeant approached the gate by car from different directions. It was his right of way, but he waived Bill through. Bill acknowledged it and insisted the sergeant go through first. He did and as soon as he went through the gate his car was hit by a bomb and he was killed.
Each season, London Irish present an honours tie to a back and a forward for each team, Bill was the backs winner in 1946-47, the first time it had awarded in eight years due to the war. He was Senior captain in 1949, when 38, he retired from playing two years later.
He turned his sporting interest to golf and in 1959 was a winner of the Gleneagles Hotel Foursomes, a tournament that Christy O’Connor Snr won three years later.
He started a tea plantation in Rhodesia, which would end up employing 5,000 people. He died in 1993 aged 82.