Lovely hurling as President Joe salutes Snowie’s big birthday

William ’Snowie’ Heffernan of Garryspillane pictured with three-times All Ireland winning Limerick captain, Declan Hannon, who was amongst many to wish him a happy 90th birthday, including American President Joe Biden.

It is not every day that the President of the United States sends personal birthday greetings but, then again, it’s not every day that you reach your 90th, while also holding the position of president with your own local GAA club, writes John Barrett.
That’s just what happened when William ‘Snowie’ Heffernan, one of Garryspillane and Limerick’s most ardent hurling supporters, celebrated the big birthday on Friday last.
“I was both shocked and delighted when I heard that President Joe Biden had sent me good wishes,” Willie told the Vale Star. “It was one of the best birthday presents ever. I could hardly believe it.”
The greeting was, it appears, arranged through the good offices of a well-placed Galbally native, who was in the White House at the time.
It wasn’t the only birthday greeting to come Snowie’s way, of course. Three-time All Ireland-winning Limerick captain Declan Hannon was on ‘the blower’, as were other Treatyside greats like Ciarán Carey, James Moran and the Herberts. There was a call also from Willie’s good friend, Fr Jack O’Neill, parish priest in Galbally and Aherlow.
“Ah, sure myself and Fr Jack go back a long way,” said Willie, remembering the times that they soldiered together as Munster rugby supporters in Thomond Park.
Indeed, the popular cleric, who is recovering after surgery at the moment, once surprised Snowie by parading him on the altar in the Church of Christ The King in Galbally, where Willie is a regular mass-goer.
Confessing that he was tired after last week’s birthday celebrations which took place at the home of his niece, Catríona Sheehan, with family and friends, Willie Heffernan, who was, in fact, born in Long Island, New York, told the Vale Star that he had himself undergone a knee replacement last year. “I’m inclined to get a bit of trouble from it now again but we will soldier on,” he added.
That journey will, of course, as always, include the annual highlight, following Limerick’s fortunes in this year’s Munster and, hopefully, All Ireland Hurling Championship. Thrilled with the fantastic success of the county, with three All Irelands in the bag over the past four years, Snowie is cautious when making a prediction for 2022.
“It is not going to be easy. The other big counties are catching up but I’d be hopeful that we can just about do the three-in-a-row all the same,” he signed off. (Read the full story on page 63).