Hitler is remembered with pride in Knockainey
On April 11th 1911, Nicholas Cooke of Knockainey was a CC
in Liverpool and his duty on that date was to baptise William
Patrick Hitler. He was the child of Alex Hitler and Brigid
Elizabeth was Irish born and she and her husband were Catholics.
William Paddy became a fully fledged Catholic and it was
Nicholas who performed the baptismal ceremony. The certificate
is in the home of Tommy Cooke, a prized possession of a
man nearing 90 years of age.
William Paddy was a nephew of Adolf Hitler who died in his
bunker in the closing days of World War 2. This, the belief
of Tommy who in the process of leaving this historic document
to some safe place where it will forever be in good hands.
Nicholas Cooke, is now resting in St. Michaels cemetery
in Tipperary town.
His association with Paddy Hitler is remembered with pride
in the Cooke household in Knockainey.
Tommy, a noted horseman until a few years ago was a leading
point to point jockey for the better part of 70 years. He
bred Definite a winner of some six races in 1940 and Rusty
a winner of 9 events from such places as Killmallock, Kilteely
When he was making a name for himself in hurling he was
advised by Canon Punch to forget the horses, but his reply
was affirmation of his love for the stables and all that
went with it. Last year he sold his last remaining horse,
something he regrets and now the only link with the racing
game is the many horse shoes that adorn his outhouses. Tommy
has his doubts regarding the immediate future of hurling
There is a definite lack of commitment in the present panel,
if they could shake off the lethargy he could see a definite
turn for the good.
Hurling has changed since his playing day. In the weeks
preceding the 1940 All Ireland he was selected to man the
right half back sport, the training was in the Gaelic Grounds.
Stephen Gleeson would collect him in his car and call for
Paddy Clohessy on the way. Clohessy had hay for sale and
Tommy would pike seven or eight wynds of hay for Paddy before
travelling to Limerick.
Robby Lawlor was the trainer and he understood what hard
work meant and only concentrated on those players who did
work of a light nature.
Compare this with the training regime of today. It was all
about hurling in Tommys time and this is somthing
that should be pursued by those in charge at the present,
opined the man from the ancient and historic parish of Knockainey.
In 1939 the Munster junior football crown rested by Shannonside.
Tommy was playing his club football with Knockane. Beaten
by Roscommon in the All-Ireland semi final, he was also
engaged with the County senior hurling team.
Asked about the training of the football team, he simply
replied it was never done.
You hurled on a Sunday and football whenever a date became
vacant. Football was a luxury and a break from hurling.
The footballers of today would never last the pace
if they were to indulge the football training that we did
In 1939 he also won an Oireachtas medal. Limerick defeated
Kilkenny who had triumphed in the famous thunder and lightning
final a few weeks previous.
Tommy milked the cows on the farm, then took the milk to
Gormanstown creamery, then Mass in Knockainey. Back in home
for a car drive to Croke Park with a break to have a few
cuts of bread and jam in Barrys Hotel.
This gaelic festival was a promotion for the native language
and Radio Eireann broadcast the match in Irish. Tom Lee
was the man in charge of the broadcast and people in the
Knockainey district were well acquainted with his brother
who was CC in the parish at the time. Dean Lee from West
Tipperary died only a few months ago.
Tommy and his team mates were at the Ceili in the Mansion
House after the match in Croke Park. Mick Mackey was called
upon to collect the medals and fearing that he may be asked
to speak in Irish, he refused to go to the stage. Eventually
the medals were given to Mick in the middle of the dance
floor, where he dished them to his Limerick team mates.
Tommy was introduced to hurling in Bulgaden NS, but swung
a spoc in Bottomstown school for a period before graduating
to Bulgaden. In Bottomstown he was taught by Vere Foster
Ryan, the father of Frank the famous Republican who died
Today he likes to travel to Kilmallock when his native knockainey
are in action. He listens to the radio when Limerick are
playing. He did follow Limerick during the three All Ireland
U21 wins, but his last time seeing the seniors was in 1996
when defeated by Wexford in the final.
Its a long way from the halcyon days of 1939 and 1940.
Tommy remains hopeful that these great years can be rolled
out in the not too distant future.
Tommys wife Nan, passed on a few years ago. His son
John is presently running the farm. When I spoke to Tommy
a this home last week, his daughter Catherine OBrien,
a Professor of Italian in UCG was staying with him in his
reminisces of his hurling times and his hopes for the future
of the game in Limerick.
The tv in his home in Bottomstown will be a focal point
for Tommy next Sunday. Although not happy with the approach
of some of the Limerick players, he still has high hopes
that they can turn the corner against Cork.
Play a man in the best position is his advice to the selectors
and impress upon all the panellists of the pride in wearing
the Limerick colours.
Courtesy of the Wexford People