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Back Then: Celtic legend Charlie Tully's link to Hollywood star Colin Farrell

Parkhead great Tully managed Bangor side featuring father of acclaimed actor Farrell

By Ivan Little

Here's one for the anoraks. And give yourself a hearty slap on the back if you know what the connection is between Hollywood superstar Colin Farrell, former Glasgow Celtic legend Charlie Tully and Bangor in County Down?

What is well-known is the fact that Farrell's father Eamonn was a useful footballer with Shamrock Rovers in Dublin but what had slipped under most people's radar was that he also spent time with Bangor FC.

The manager at the time in the mid-Sixties was the former Celtic and Northern Ireland hero Charlie Tully who, it's said, regularly recruited players from the Republic – maybe up to five in any season – to turn out for him at Clandeboye Road.

And Eamon Farrell was one of the southerners who used to travel north on the morning of the match. However, apparently their transport plans regularly fell asunder and Tully wouldn't name his team until he knew if the southerners had actually arrived.

Tully was one of the biggest stars on the firmament of Irish and Scottish football and there's even a website in his name. There are also murals and plaques in his honour in west Belfast.

Plays have been written about him and the 40th anniversary of his death a few years ago was marked by a memorial gathering at his grave at Milltown cemetery attended by Bertie Auld who was one of Celtic's European Cup winners in 1967.

One of Tully's proudest moments came when he got to hold the European Cup won by the Lisbon Lions. In a recent TV documentary, comedian Billy Connolly wasn't joking when he said that out of all the Celtic players he had ever seen, Charlie Tully was his number one.

And he relayed the story of how, after a referee had ruled out a Tully goal scored straight from a corner kick, the Belfastman did the exact same thing again. And the goal stood.

Charlie died in his sleep at the age of 47 in 1971 during his second spell as manager of Bangor. He also had spells with Cork, Hibs and Portadown

Colin Farrell was too young to have ever seen his father playing for Bangor or anyone else but he was said to have been a football fan who could play a bit too. Initially he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and his uncle Tommy who also played for Shamrock Rovers but Colin said he quickly realised he simply wasn't good enough to make it a career.

Ironically Colin's big break in acting came when Kevin Spacey spotted him in a Northern Irish play at the Donmar Warehouse in London in 1998 when he was wearing a Rangers top.

Colin had been playing the part of a vulnerable young Protestant man from the Rathcoole estate in Gary Mitchell's award-winning play A Little World of our Own in London.

Spacey immediately whisked him off to Hollywood and the rest is movie gold ... .


Former First Lady brings a touch of glamour to the shipyard

It's an unusual way to remember the visit 40 years ago of arguably the world's most glamorous woman to one of Belfast's least chic streets. But the name of the Onassis amusement complex in Queen Street is a nod to the day that Jackie Onassis came to town.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the death of the widow of President John F Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963

Five years later Jackie was at the centre of worldwide controversy as she married the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis who was 23 years her senior. Even the Catholic Church publicly rebuked her for marrying a divorced man.

But it was as Mrs Onassis that she arrived in Belfast on September 9, 1970 in the early days of the Troubles.

But why Queen Street?

Well the answer is that her husband was a 25% shareholder in Harland and Wolff and went with his wife to the shipyard where he met management and workers. There was talk of a takeover but it never materialised.

Afterwards he and Jackie had lunch, as you do, in the H&W social club in Queen Street, which is where the amusement centre now stands.

Scores of people were outside to greet the former First Lady (left). Her thoughts on her visit and her grub went unrecorded...

Belfast Telegraph


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