November 28 1905
1905 All Blacks enjoy Limerick hospitality.
“Arrived at the Limerick station, we found thousands congregated to meet us, and so great was the impetuosity of the crowd that, when they heard the cheer inside the station they simply defied both police and station gates and rushed the platform. After much difficult steering we managed to board our “brakes” and I have no doubt that it looked rather a funny procession to the hotel with our following of men, women and children, all jostling and pushing for pride of place. Urchins climbed up adjacent buildings to get a view of the team at dinner, and hundreds stood outside the portico for upwards of an hour for the appearance of an “All Black”. We were well nigh deluged with invitations to various residences and national sights to points for miles around, and they did us the greatest honour they could confer on us when they announced that the Lord or Esquire of the county would drive us personally in his own six-in-hand coach to and from the match. They were also willing to get up a meet of the hounds for our entertainment, but the exigencies of time would not permit of us accepting what would have been enjoyable to us.
This match, which, with the Glasgow match, had been added to our original programme while we were outward bound from New Zealand, was one which we had often thought we had sooner been without. Receiving only a bare guarantee of £50, it was obviously no financial advantage, and from a playing point of view we would have preferred a week’s spell between the Irish and English international matches. When we found the great welcome which was extended to us by the open-hearted, generous people of the West of Ireland we felt no regret for having kept our part of
the programme. As for their chances on the field, no one expected Munster to win and at the end of a one-sided match, in which we beat them by 30-odd points to nil, there was just a perceptible feeling of regret among enthusiasts that in the two matches in Ireland the home teams had failed to notch a single point against us. As they were not such capable or efficient spoilers as most of the teams we had met, we were able to play a pretty open game, the passing far outdoing anything we have yet shown this tour. Smith was unfortunate enough this match to get his shoulder bruised, which will probably keep him from again taking the field.
The waiting arrangements and indeed the whole working of the hotel (the best in Limerick) were highly amusing and at times exasperating to us. The kitchen was a good 40 yards away from the dining room and when you get six old men waiters (they must have averaged 60 years each), bound to an old-fashioned orthodox style of attending you, it will be possible to imagine how a footballer’s patience (very limited in most cases) was taxed. To have dined “a Ia Limerick” would have taken three hours, and I can assure you we were not long waking the old fellows up, and by the time we left them I fancy they had got into, and had a very fair idea of, the style of dining suitable to a colonial. On waking in the mornings you would find a can of hot water, which you were supposed to use to the best of your knowledge, as a substitute for the ordinary plunge bath. When one thinks, though, of the magnificent welcome and many kindnesses extended to us in this ancient city on the Shannon, pleasant memories and a merry laugh take the place of the resentment and disappointment which under different social circumstances would have always been associated in our memory of Limerick.”
From “Billy’s Trip Home” published 2005 by NZ Sports Hall of Fame p. 45-46.