One south Donegal man is all set to attend his 74th. consecutive All Ireland final on September 23rd which surely must qualify for inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records.
Jim Snow who originally hails from neighbouring Fermanagh and who has lived in Pettigo for most of his life attended his first All Ireland in 1938 at the age of 18 and has been going ever since and this year is holding his breath in the hope of securing on of the all elusive tickets.
The 92-year old Jim originally came to Pettigo with his wife Kathleen and worked for many years on the ferry which brought pilgrims to Lough Derg.
Going to an All Ireland final in the late 30’s was a major undertaking for a Donegal Man - these were the days when the words express coaches were just a figment of the imagination and a journey to the capital was a marathon journey in itself. Those were the days of flasks of tea and sandwiches carefully wrapped in grease - proof paper.
His daughter - in -law, Winnie told the Donegal Democrat “ Jim made a point of getting to Dublin on the third weekend of September whatever way he had to - he was blessed that there was a train going through Pettigo but many’s a time he took to the bike and cycled the whole way.
“He was always a good cyclist and to be honest would never think twice about heading off on the marathon journey on his trusted bicycle.
“In those early years neither his native Fermanagh or his adopted county had any great success on the playing field but Jim was simply a great lover of sport and the whole atmosphere of Croke Park on All Ireland Sunday. The year would just never have been the same if he missed out on it!”
His love of sport and in particular football was passed down through the family with his son wearing the green and gold of Donegal at minor, under - 21 and senior levels in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
His grandson Christopher has also played soccer for N.Ireland schoolboys and had quite a few trials ‘across the water’ until he suffered an injury which put an end to his soccer career. However he still is a member of the Fermanagh senior squad and plays an active role in GAA circles.
Winnie added, “Had Jim’s wife been alive today they would have been married for 54 years last week and one of his most treasured mementoes is a photograph of himself and Kathleen with the Sam Maguire in 1992.
“There is nobody in this country that deserves a ticket more than Jim - he already has a firm ambition to make it 75 in a row!”
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat, Jim recalls his very first visit to the hallowed turf of Croke Park,”My uncle just lived 5 minutes away and I just walked down. There was no such thing as tickets then. You just arrived at the turnstile and paid your money and in you went. If you had children with you, they were just lifted over the stiles.
“On that first visit I was right on the sideline a which was hard to beat.
Throughout the years Jim travelled the length and breath of the country following the game - Railway Cup matches, league matches and intercounty matches.
“I have fond memories of the great men like Pettigo man PJ Flood, Sean Ferriter, Seamus Hoare, the Breslin brothers, John Hannigan but I suppose the best memory will always be our first All Ireland success in 1992 and the homecoming in Donegal Town and then on the Tuesday, when Sam came to Pettigo.
“It has been a truly great journey and I am hoping that someone will manage to scrape a ticket for me somewhere. Let’s get this one under our belt first and hopefully I can complete my 75th. next year!”