Sir Alex Ferguson


Sir Alex Ferguson (1941- present) was a Scottish former football manager and player, best known for managing Manchester United from 1986 to 2013. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time and has won more trophies than any other manager in the history of football.

In 1999, both in an radio interview with Pat Kenny and in his autobiography “Managing My Life: My Autobiography by Ferguson, Alex”, Alex speaks fondly of his holidays in Walkinstown.

From his autobiography:

“That summer of 1959, I had my first holiday away from the regular Boys’ Brigade camps. With two pals, John Donachie and Jim Connell, I went to stay with Jim’s aunt and uncle on the Walkinstown housing estate in Dublin. We all had a marvellous time and I really savoured the sense of personal freedom the trip gave me. One of my earliest impressions of the great city of Dublin, which has since become one of my favourite places to visit, was of the number of cycles. Everybody seemed to have a bike and crossing the road in the vicinity of the bridge at the end of O’Connell Street could be quite an adventure. Of course, the lads from Glasgow took pride in their alertness. At least we did until we had dealings with a street photographer who demonstrated how he could produce instant prints. We chipped in a pound each and the happy snapper went to work. He took our pictures, dipped the negatives in a solution he had to hand, and Bob’s your uncle, we had the prints. We crossed the Liffey marvelling at the progress photography was making, but by the time we reached the other side of the river the photographs had faded to a brownish blur.

Fifty yards further on, the images were gone altogether. We sprinted back over the bridge to attack the photographer, but should have known better. Fading was his speciality. Once the anger had subsided, we had a good laugh at ourselves. That holiday was full of laughs and even now when John and I meet up another story of Dublin is sure to come out.

Our favoured hunting ground for dates was a dance hall called the Four Provinces in Harcourt Street. We went there most nights
and on one occasion we bumped into a lad from Govan, Rab Donnachie, who had played in the Govan High School team at
the same time as I did. He was on his own and we had no hesitation about inviting him to join us, as I had always thought of him as
decent enough. However, at the end of the night, when the Irish national anthem was being played, Rab refused to stand and became belligerent towards the stewards. The three of us quietly stepped out of the way as he was escorted into the street. Almost every night afterwards we would meet him and invariably he would go through that silly procedure of not standing for the national anthem. He was a strange lad and it transpired that he had gathered a bit of a reputation while working in the Fairfield shipyard, where his dodgy characteristics had earned him the nickname Barabbas. When I learned some years later that he had died a young man, somehow I was not greatly shocked. I had sensed a deep self-destructiveness in Rab.

It was a severe shock, though, when Jim Connell died in his early forties. Jim and I went our separate ways after that Dublin holiday but I would bump into him now and again at football matches. He was a nice, quiet lad and I was always glad to see him. Apparently, after his wife died suddenly, he could not come to terms with the loss. He had no heart for life afterwards. When John Donachie and I share our reminiscences of those carefree days in Ireland long ago, there is now a shadow over the memories.”

Alas, the Pat Kenny interview from September 1999 has eluded us but from a newspaper article, he said:

“A lot of the west of Scotland families through intermarriage have got an Irish connection.”

“My grandfather was Catholic and my grandmother was Protestant. My father was brought up Protestant. My mother’s side is completely 100% Catholic.”

“My first holiday was in Walkinstown. We stayed with a family in Walkinstown, it was a pal of mine’s aunt. There were three of us in the one bed.

“My wife had never been in Dublin. About six or seven years ago we came over for a long weekend and I hired a car and Cathy went shopping and I went to Walkinstown to look at the house. “I didn’t have the nerve to go in because I didn’t know if were still  there or if they would still remember me.”

“I just had a little tour around Walkinstown to re-jog the old memory bank. I got out of the car and walked along to the house and
nobody recognised me.”

Although we were not able to track down the exact location, there was a Mrs. O Connell on 19 Cherryfield Road who was offering accommodation in the Tour Guide section of the newspapers at that time .

O’CONNELL 19 Cherryfield Road, Walkinstown, Dublin—Select Accommodation for 3 or 4 people; self-catering, 6/- each. Linen and cutlery supplied.

A question that Alex might only be able to answer himself.

In retrospect, Sir Alex Ferguson’s choice of spending a summer in the modest housing estate of Walkinstown at the tender age of 18 may raise eyebrows for those who associate him with glitzy football stadiums and prestigious awards. Yet, perhaps it was in those unassuming streets that he discovered the resilience and determination that would later define his illustrious career. After all, sometimes the most unexpected destinations pave the way for the grandest journeys.

If you would like to support our latest project: please visit: If you donate €20 you will get a copy of the book when it is printed.

Person Photo
Connection with area: