A tribute to Dominic Downey
Dominic Downey who was from Monkstown in County Cork came to the Midlands in 1936 at the age of 16. Following an old Cork tradition he joined the Royal Navy, serving as a leading torpedo operator during the war. He left the Navy in 1946 and having married in 1942, later settled in Birmingham.
When I started work with the original Irish Post when it was launched in 1970, Dominic Downey was a working as a Police officer for Warwickshire GAA County Board; weekly games were then played at Glebe Farm Park.
Dominic’s main role at that time was delivering various summons and court orders to local residents. His mode of transport at that time was his trusty Velocette motor cycle-often referred to as ‘The Noddy Bike.’
On one occasion, a local man, having been presented with a summons by the Cork-born officer was so irate that he grabbed Dominic’s ‘Noddy Bike’ and threw it into the River Cole which still flows past the former GAA playing fields at Glebe Farm Park!
I first photographed Dominic when in Police uniform, he always led the annual St Patrick`s Parade in Birmingham.
Every Monday morning, Dominic would arrive at our house on his Velocette to deliver the results of the previous day’s GAA matches for The Irish Post sports pages-announcing his arrival by shouting out,’ Mrs-put the kettle on!’
His dry Cork wit was legendary-woe betide anybody who tried to gain free entry at Glebe Farm (and later Pairc na hEireann) He treated anybody who was not Cork-born as an alien-and insults bounced off him – just like water of a duck’s back swimming in the river Lee.
During his years with West Midlands Police, Dominic is reputed to have delivered over 1200 summons. One recipient of a Downey delivered summons said, “Nobody likes receiving a summons, but the experience has been less painful having it delivered by Dominic Downey-he was such a nice Irishman!”
Pity that the other irate recipient who ditched Dominic`s bike in the river did not share the same view!
In addition to his role as Press Officer for Warwickshire GAA, Dominic was also a dedicated member of St Brendan’s GAA Club in Birmingham, where he helped to train and coach team players. Happily, St. Brendan’s team is still active today.
Shortly after Dominic’s sad passing I had the pleasure of presenting an Irish Post sponsored trophy in Dominic’s memory to Kay and her family at the then new sports grounds at Pairc na hEireann. That trophy us still played for every year.