John McCullagh July 1, 2006
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Vinny Smith was born in Edinburgh but always maintained he came from Glasgow.  He was a carpenter by trade and moved to England to look for work.  There he met Patsy Durkin from Newry. 


They were married and moved back to Patsy’s home town and stayed with Patsy’s sister Violet in Catherine Street.   Vinny and Patsy went back to Edinburgh once for a holiday but that was the only time Vinny ever went home.  He would come with us to Glasgow but never Edinburgh.  Possibly because, although his family lived in Edinburgh, Glasgow was home to him.   After Patsy died he was always going to go home ‘next week’ but never made it.   In later years offers of bottles of whiskey were placed with him in the club to entice him to go and all he had to do was show us his ticket to Scotland but he never collected the bottle. 

Vinny was an accomplished piper and played with the Thomas Davis Pipe Band for many years.    His proudest moments were when he ‘played the Haggis’  one Burns Night.  But I think that his real claim to fame was that he was a fanatical Celtic supporter.

He was a founder member of the AOH Celtic Supporters Club and it was he who organised our first trip over to see the Hoops play.  We met the chairman of the club (Mr White) and we were taken for a tour of the ground and the trophy room.   We had VIP seats for that game and Vinny was the man who made it all happen.  When we went to the Celtic Supporters Association Club in London Road it was … ‘Hi Vinny’ this and .. ‘Hi Vinny’ that .. and we just tagged along, proud that we were part of his group.

Ask Vinny a question about Celtic and he could list you the team, tell you who scored, who they were playing and, at a push name the referee and linesmen.

Vinny died in 1995 and at his funeral mass the priest told this story which summed him up:

‘I was just new into the parish and one of my first duties was to go on a Saturday and give Holy Communion to the house-bound.  I reached Vinny’s bungalow at about 2pm, rang the doorbell and was admitted by this elderly gentleman.  He ushered me into the sitting room and as I was preparing to give him Holy Communion I couldn’t help but notice two lighted candles on the sideboard.   I gave him a blessing and he asked would I like a cup of tea.  We sat and chatted about this and that and I asked him was it a Scottish custom to have the candles lit when the Host is coming into a home.  He looked at me in amazement.

‘Father’, says he,

‘Celtic are playing Rangers today and I always light the candles for a good result.’
 

I think Celtic beat Rangers that day.

 None of his family from Edinburgh could make it to his funeral but some from his adopted home in Glasgow did.         

 … death in a hovel …

 

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