The Mansion House, Comórtas Fichille Cúige Laighean
D-day came and on March 28th, 2014, Garry Kasparov set foot on Irish soil. His first programmed visit was to meet chess playing children in the Mansion House where the annual Comórtas Fichille Cúige Laighean was taking place. Two camera crews and scores of photographers and journalists arrived to document the arrival. Brendan Corrigan, Colm Ó Muireagáin and Kieran Rogers (photo below) worked tirelessly and brilliantly to make sure that the tournament ran smoothly. The tournament was kindly sponsored by Gaelscoileanna Teo and Foras na Gaeilge. I am forever grateful for their support. All of the chess playing children spoke in the language that was most natural to them during school hours, Irish. This was an event for the children to celebrate and in their language.
The Mansion House is the home of the Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn and we were certainly very privileged to be there. Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn was elsewhere on the day and the Deputy Lord Mayor Dermot Lacey arrived and greeted me with the warmest of welcomes. Although there was a chess exhibition held there in 2011, it had been some time since a chess tournament took place there. And then arrived the Substitute Lord Mayor, Naoise Ó Muirí (Dublin Lord Mayor 2012-13). Naoise spoke to the children from the podium of the Oak Room and spoke of the historical significance of such a magnificent room.
Irelands top juniors were at the Mansion House as an inspiration to the young children playing in the tournament. First up was 7 year old Admira Kecskemeti, under 12 Ulster champion in 2013 and 2014 schools champion. Then 8 year old Daniel Dwyer approached the stage as celebrated Bunratty Minors Champion. Diana Mirza was an inspiration as European under 12s champion. Conor ODonnell was much adored as the youngest Irish player to beat a grandmaster at the tender age of 14, something I myself found hard to grasp. And then it was time for the much adulated Bernadette Stokes team. A group of six young boys who always look like a team of friends who set the chess world alight when they returned in July, proud as punch, with the Bernadette Stokes cup. We were extra privileged to also have Bernadette Stokes herself in the room. Every child in the room envied the prowess of such chess stars and every child was inspired by them.
Leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan seemed to enjoy a lesson from young children from Gaelscoil Cholmcille and then arrived the star of the day. An Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore seemed to steal the show as he merged with children and battled over the chess board. It was simply beautiful to see an Tánaiste and children engage in chess while photographers and camera crews created their own battles in getting lens angles correct to document the chess game in progress.
Garry Kasparov arrived at the airport late and to make thinks more difficult, his baggage had gone astray. There was panic and excitement all in one in the Mansion House as we waited to hear word of his arrival. Garrys wife Dasha and their daughter had travelled with him. The difficulties on arrival were beyond anybodies control and Garry had to make the decision to cancel the visit to the Mansion House. There is no doubt that there were tears in the room but Garry himself signed posters for individual schools and individual chess stars to make up for his absence, a gesture that has been deeply appreciated by all.
Schools that participated: Gaelscoil Inis Córthaidh, Gaelscocil Inse Chór, Scoil Aonghusa, Gaelscoil Phort Laoise, Scoil Bhríde, Gaelscoil Chill Dara, Gaelscoil Chnoc Liamhna, Gaelscoil Cholmcille, Scoil Lorcáin, Gaelscoil an Bhradáin Feasa, Gaelscoil Bharra, Gaelscoil Bhaile Brigín, Gaelscoil Naomh Pádraig, Gaelscoil na Cille, Gaelscoil na Ríthe, Gaelscoil nas na Ríogh.
Children that were honoured: Admira Kecskemeti, Conor O'Donnell, Diana Mirza, Daniel Dwyer, Ross Beatty, Michael Higgins, David Halpenny, Pádraig Hughes, Tom O'Gorman, Fiachra Scallen.
Winners of Comórtas Fichille Cúige Laighean 2014: Gaelscoil Inis Córthaidh (who will also receive a large garden chess set over the coming year as part of their prize). Previous winners were Scoil Bhríde and Scoil Aonghusa who also won large garden chess sets for their schools.
Below are a number of photographs from the Mansion House. More can be found here.
See also this TG4 News broadcast (Episode 88 at 4:44).
Tá tuairisc an ocáid ar fáil i nGaeilge anseo.