Back in the 1890s there was a lot going on.
In Ireland, the Dublin football team were the team of the times as they ended the decade with a 3-in-a-row (1897, 1898, 1899).
Although fellow-Dub Tony Mangan was celebrating his birthday recently, he was not born back in the 1890s, but it being his birthday season, it seems only fitting to mention dates on this occasion.
Another time of note that occurred back then in 1895 was that the song Waltzing Matilda was written. Lately, Tony was fortunate enough to spend his birthday in the town where the song was first performed.
Such was the song’s popularity, it became notorious for being Australia’s unofficial national anthem.
As the tune goes:
Oh there once was a swagman camped in a billabong Under the shade of a coolibah tree
Over the past few years Tony has camped out in many a place and under many a tree and so the significance of Tony being compared to the character in this song is obvious.
But what is the real background behind the song?
The Waltzing Matilda song lyrics arose from the 1891 Shearers Strike which was one of Australia’s most prominent industrial disputes. Unionised and non-unionised wool workers fought violently and the outcome saw the formation and coming to power of the Australian Labour party.
In Tony’s native land there is another Dubliner in political power and he has the overarching responsibility of many government departments including the (bursting at the seams) Health Service Executive. As Tony is walking around the world in aid of early cancer screening it seems apt now and then to wonder about the disease that he preaches about.
A recent study found that cancer patients who are physically active both prior to and following treatment are 40% more likely to survive in comparison to people who have cancer who are sedentary.
One thing for certain is that, despite Tony having a couple of unusual rest days in this past week, he is anything but a sedentary body as he moves around Australia meeting people here and there and spreading his message of early cancer screening. Of course, his two-day break was due to his recent birthday and like anyone celebrating a break – was well deserved. An Taoiseach, Ireland’s prime minister, is another who likes a ramble with his short pants on.
Of course, there is a possibility that Tony’s idealist early cancer screening is prevented for many due to the inefficiency of the health system that Irish people find themselves living in. Seeing as only last month there was record breaking 10,000 people on trolleys in hospitals across Ireland, perhaps it’s time for certain people in the HSE to do as Tony did some years ago and ‘go for a run…’
That run went all around the world for Tony and he continues to repeat the selfless feat for others who need it now.
As he has passed the famous Waltzing Matilda mark we still wonder what is a swagman?
Simply put, a ‘swagman’ is a person holding a swag or bundle of belongings for a prolonged period, as they walk away.
As Tony Mangan walks on from another important date on the calendar and away from the fame of the 1890s Waltzing Matilda memory co-incidentally his native Dublin footballers are beginning to start defending their present 3-in-a-row All-Ireland Football Championships wins, yet Tony’s governmental leader Leo has his famous socks on and may be ready for a long walk of his own – if everyone figures out that he is the real ‘Swagman’ of Dublin.