Archive for the 'McCool Places' Category

Badass of the Week: Finn McCool

Copied directly from:

Finn McCool

A few years back I wrote about the mythical Irish warrior Cuchulainn and his adventures hurling sea monster bones at unsuspecting dumbshits, but honestly, any discussion regarding the great badasses of Ireland’s folklore has to mention the man believed by many to be the biggest, toughest, and most epic hero to ever grace the Emerald Isle with his size 47 shoes and unbelievably-foul temper – Finn McCool.

It all started back in the 3rd century AD.  Finn’s pops, a dude named Cumhaill, was a pretty badass warrior who served in an asskicking association of knights and soldiers known as the Fianna.  Well one day Cumhaill decided he wanted to marry the daughter of a powerful, high-ranking Druid, so the Druid responded to this request by giving Cumhaill the finger and whacking him in the crunch really hard with a shillelagh.  Cumhaill, being the fearless, face-wrecking hardass that he was, wasn’t going to be dissuaded by something as pathetic as a bone-shattering cudgel blow to the family jewels, so he busted into the Druid’s house in the middle of the night, grabbed the girl, and carried her off into the darkness.  In my research I wasn’t able to determine whether or not the blushing bride was a willing participant in this home invasion / eloping, but I suppose that when you’re dealing with medieval marriages this is really only a minor detail.



Unfortunately for poor Cumhaill, the Druid was in tight with the High King of Ireland – a guy who went by the moniker Conn of the Hundred Battles – and the bride-stealing Irishman would soon discover that it’s never a good idea to step to a guy who has a badass epithet describing how many different military engagements he’s somehow managed to survive.  Conn expelled Cumhaill from the Fianna, declared him an outlaw, and sent the fearsome, unstoppable brotherhood of knights out to capture and kill their former member.  The commander of the Fianna personally tracked Cumhaill down, kicked him head-first into a ditch, and promptly introduced his skull to the pointy end of a lance a few dozen times.

Even though Cumhaill had been successfully killed the hell out of, there was still a little bit of a problem.  You see, not long after the absconded Druish princess returned home, it sbecame obvious that she had contracted a rather noticeable case of pregnancy.  Her dad, being the virtuous religious leader that he was, concluded that the only possible way of resolving this unfortunate situation was to tie the poor girl to a stake and set her on fire until she died from it.  Conn of the Hundred Battles disapproved of the daughter-torching idea for some strange reason, issued an order of protection, and when the baby was born he had the kid sent off to live with a couple crazy-ass warrior women in the middle of the woods somewhere.

Young Finn McCool (who, by the way, is also known as Fionn Mac Cumhaill – I of course chose this spelling because it is probably one of the most awesome names ever) spend his formative years growing up in a magical forest surrounded by insane man-eating monsters and being trained in the arts of war and hunting by his face-melting Druid priestess aunt and her best friend, the blademistress Liath Luachra.  As you can imagine by his slightly-unorthodox childhood, Finn had a bunch of weird adventures growing up.  Like one time, he saw some chick crying tears of blood because her kid was slain by a badass warrior from the Fianna, so of course Finn McCool went out there, snapped the guy in half with his bare hands, and stole all of his treasure.  Another time he helped a wise and powerful sage catch the Salmon of Wisdom, a magical fish that granted the gift of supreme intelligence to the first person that ate it (as a bizarre side note, the Salmon of Wisdom got its interesting powers super-geniusness by eating the Nuts of Wisdom.  There’s no mention of where the nuts came from, but I kind of love the fact that there’s such a thing as the mythological nuts of wisdom.)  Finn was cooking this crazy thing, but burned his finger on it, and when he instinctively put his thumb in his mouth to soothe the flesh-searing agony, the crazy powers of brilliance transferred from the magic salmon to him.  From that point on, Finn McCool was able to divine the correct solution to any question simply by sticking his thumb in his mouth.  It was like his entire finger became a fleshy magic eight ball.



So not only was Finn McCool as super mecha mastermind capable of calculating the rotation of the Earth down to the nearest degree per minute simply by quickly jamming his thumb in his mouth, but he was also a tough-as-hell giant who stomped balls all across the Emerald Isle.  When this guy grew up, he decided he wanted to restore honor to his family name and prove himself as a shit-wrecking destroyer of faces who exploded the brains of anyone foolish enough to stand within two hundred yards of his sword arm, so we went out to the capital, Tara, and decided to save the town from a badass monster known as Aillen the Burner.

Aillen was kind of like a 3rd century Irish version of Trogdor the Dragon-Man.  Once a year, this bastard-faced demon crawled his way out of the horrible depths of the underworld, wailed out a flaming solo on his harp so powerful that it put everybody to sleep, and then burninated the town into cinders.  Well Finn decided to put an end to that shit like quick. He visited the town, kept himself awake through the harp-playing by stabbing himself in the face repeatedly with his own poisoned spear, and then ran out to confront Aillen the Burner as soon as the creature appeared.  Aillen tried to breathe a huge fireball onto Finn, but the Irish giant smothered the flame by throwing his cloak over the demon’s head and sucker-punching him in the chops.  The pyromaniacal monster, displeased by this unforeseen turn of events, turned around and started running full-speed away from the crazy face-smashing Celt with a bad attitude.  Well, Finn wasn’t going to let this medieval terrorist-monster get away with nothing more than the old “coat-over-the-head, punch-in-the-face” routine, so he took two steps towards the fleeing beast, hucked his spear at it, and impaled it from long range with enough force to puncture concrete.  Then he casually walked over and kicked it in the head until it died.

After witnessing this pretty righteous display of badassery, the High King of Ireland (Conn’s grandson) immediately promoted Finn to commander-in-chief of the Fianna.  Finn was pretty pumped up about bouncing the man who killed his father out of his prestigious position, and would go on to lead the Fianna to victory in tons of battles against everything from Viking marauders to armies of goblins from the underworld.



The Fianna were pretty awesome, if you ask me.  These powerful, head-cleaving knights were independent contractors under the nominal command of the King, sort of like Blackwater with huge beards and battle axes, and they did whatever they wanted to whoever they wanted whenever the hell they felt like it.  These guys spent their summers hunting and camping out in the wilderness, and then their winters chilling with the king and eating giant hocks of beef and pork.  They carried the fabled Weapons of the Gods, were pretty much unbeatable in combat against even the most battle-hardened ass-kickers, and they were all capable of pounding enough Guiness and whiskey to send most normal men into a coma. Of course, when you’ve got an organization like this you can’t just go around letting any idiot with a sword into your frat, and the Fianna had a pretty insane entrance examination.  For starters, you would be buried in a waist-deep hole armed only with a shield, and you had to defend yourself while nine berserkers attacked you relentlessly with spears.  If you were wounded in the melee, you were sent packing.  If you somehow survived the pointy onslaught, you were set loose in the forest, and had to escape while the rest of the knights of the Fianna tried to hunt you down like an animal.  If you were caught, stepped on a branch, or messed up your hair, you were expelled (these guys took their hair VERY seriously.)  If you succeeded, you were rewarded by being sent off to battle against a bunch of gnarly otherworldly monsters.



As commander of this Order of Assbeatery, Finn went on a bunch of crazy adventures all across Eire.  He defended his homeland from invaders several times, had a bunch of crazy parties, killed his own nephew in an argument over a babe, owned a pair of totally sweet battle dogs, and married a goddess who could turn into a deer.  According to some legends, he also defeated the Celtic God of War in single combat by pummeling him senseless with a car battery, and you have to think that defeating the Irish equivalent of Ares is an accomplishment you really can’t take lightly.  Another story claims that he created the Giant’s Causeway by throwing a bunch of rocks from Ireland to Scotland so that he could fistfight another giant over there, and in a similar geography-related incident he also created the Isle of Man by trying to hurl a giant chunk of Ireland at a guy who was pissing him off.  Finn just didn’t give a shit.

All good things must come to an end, however, and for Finn McCool, that end came in the form of a story now known as “The Violent Death of Finn”.  It seems that over the years, McCool let all the praise go to his head and kind of turned into a total jackass.  The King turned several members of the Fianna against him, and at the Battle of Gabhair he was jumped by a bunch of jackasses and murdered exceedingly.  The Fianna was then disbanded, because without Finn they were substantially less interesting.  Finn’s grandson went on to write a bunch of epic poems about him and party with Saint Patrick, which is pretty sweet, and nowadays McCool’s sweet name lives on in that he has a bunch of eccentric Irish pubs named after him.


The Giant’s Causeway.



McCool’s Ferry Road, South Carolina

I have this romantic notion that when I visit places my ancestors lived, that I will get some divine inspiration or understanding. It has been fun visiting these places but I certainly have not uncovered or learned anything special.

This past April, I took a road trip through South Carolina and visited McCool Ferry’s Road, near Chester SC. If you want to visit, take highway 9 west from Chester, turn left on State Road 535 (Roy Wade Road/Wood’s Ferry Road), then turn right on Worthy’s Ferry Road. Continue about 5 miles to the end of McCool’s Ferry Road. Google (the above link) provides a very good map and one street view (nice!).

The McCool ferry was operated by Adam McCool through the early 1800s. It was located on the Broad River, which you can see on the Google map. This area is part of the Sumter National Forest and is fairly remote.

The above image is from my iPhone GPS program. The smaller road (Wood Duck Road/McCool’s Ferry Road) was gated. I was able to drive to the end of the main McCool’s Ferry Road.

There is one very rough road, unmarked by GPS, ungated but with a Closed to Vehicles sign. I did not explore on foot because it was remote, late in the day, I was alone, and had a rental car. I suspect that this unmarked road goes to the river. Hopefully I will get back to the area and learn McCool history–but I wanted to share this little bit.

Here are some photos I took along the road (click on each to open a super large version):

This is where Wood Duck Road ends and McCool’s Ferry Road begins (my car just came from McCool’s Ferry Road). To the right of the car is the gated road (a public dove field) and the other road is a forest service road.

McCool's Ferry Road looks mostly like this. It is dirt but easy to drive.

This is the unmarked rough road, that probably leads to the river.

Near the end of McCool's Ferry Road

Delta State University’s Horace L. McCool


CLEVELAND, March 24 — Delta State University issued the following news release:

The football field stands silent today at Delta State University, as the school mourns the passing of a true Delta legend, Coach Horace McCool. McCool passed away on Tuesday, March 23, at Bolivar Medical Center. He was 81 years old.

Visitation is set for Friday, March 26 from 6-8 p.m. at Ray Funeral Home in Cleveland, and again on Saturday, March 27, from noon-2:30 p.m. at Cleveland’s First Baptist Church. Funeral services will follow at 2:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Horace L. McCool Facilities Fund at the Delta State University Foundation. Donations may be sent to DSU Box 3141, Cleveland, MS 38733.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Coach Horace McCool,” Jeremy McClain, director of athletics stated. “In his 13 year career as head football coach at Delta State; he ushered in an era of success on the gridiron never before seen at DSU. As an administrator, his effort to bring back women’s basketball and lead our entire program into an ever changing world was not only visionary, but exemplary.”

McCool was truly one of a kind. A master motivator, he directed the Statesmen football program for 13 seasons before moving into administration. His legacy stretches beyond the gridiron and into the hallowed halls of Sillers Coliseum and beyond to the very campus here at Delta State.

“In my years as athletic director, I enjoyed my close relationship and friendship with Coach McCool,” Coach Dave “Boo” Ferriss stated. “I enjoyed watching his successful teams and I consider him one of the all-time greats of college football in our state. He will be long remembered for the outstanding service he rendered the university in his various capacities.”

Horace McCool served as the head football coach of the Delta State Statesmen from 1961-1973. Over the span of those 13 seasons, the Boyle, Miss., native recorded 76 wins, 48 losses and three ties. From 1961 to 1966, McCool’s teams reeled off six-straight winning seasons and an outstanding 41-15 record. His 76 wins still stand as the all-time record for a head football coach at Delta State and he still holds the distinction of being the only coach in Statesmen history to have six-consecutive winning seasons.

McCool coached 17 All-Americans at Delta State and helped develop several professional players, including Jack Gregory, an All-Pro defensive end with the New York Giants.

“Coach McCool always knew what to say and when to say it,” Ned Mitchell, a former Statesmen football player and past president of the Alumni Association, stated: “His halftime speeches were legendary. He got you so ready to play that you would run through a brick wall for him. He was always doing something to keep you focused on the task at hand, but not so serious that it wasn’t fun. I’m going to miss him.”

Prior to becoming head coach at Delta State, he served as an assistant coach with the Statesmen under legendary Head Coach Gene Chadwick for two years before being named head coach in 1961.

McCool also proved to be an outstanding leader, directing the University’s athletic programs as Director of Athletics from 1967 to 1977. He became Delta State’s first fulltime Athletics Director in January of 1974.

During McCool’s tenure, the Statesmen and Lady Statesmen enjoyed unparalleled successes on the field and in the classroom. McCool led the charge to reinstate women’s basketball at Delta State and watched as legendary head coach Margaret Wade directed the Lady Statesmen basketball team to three-straight national championships in the mid-70’s.

He was a major figure in the formation of the Gulf South Conference in 1971. Although the league was formed just prior to the 1971 football season, McCool pushed for championships to be declared in all sports during the initial year. At that time, the GSC was a 10-member league with universities in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. Almost 40 years later, Delta State Athletics stands as the measure of success in the 15-team, six-state league with nine national titles and 38 conference championships.

After spending 25 years serving the Department of Athletics as a coach and administrator, McCool resigned as Director of Athletics in the spring of 1978. He went on to serve the University as Physical Plant Director for several more years.

McCool’s first coaching experience came in the Mississippi Junior College Conference as he served as an assistant coach at Itawamba Junior College and then as head coach at Northeast JC and Holmes JC. He gained national recognition when he was on the coaching staff of the National Junior College All-American game in Albuquerque, N.M., and the All-America High School games at Hershey, Pa., and Miami, Fla.

McCool played two seasons for legendary Ole Miss Coach Johnny Vaught from 1948-49 and also played baseball for the Rebels in 1949. He then transferred to Memphis State for the 1950 season before joining the United States Army during the Korean War. While in the service, he played one season for Ft. Jackson in South Carolina, a team which went 16-1 and lost to Carswell Air Force Base in the National Service Championship game. Following his time in the service, McCool transferred to Delta State. He would receive his bachelor’s degree in education from Delta State in 1952. Two-years later, he received his master’s degree in education from the University of Mississippi.

Prior to enrolling at Ole Miss, McCool was an outstanding prep player at Belzoni High School from 1944 to 1947.

McCool is a charter member of the Delta State Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1978, Delta State presented the long-time coach and administrator with the McHardy Service Award, and in 1997 the American Football Foundation presented McCool with the prestigious Johnny Vaught Lifetime Achievement Award.

He was a past member of the National Football Coaches Association, the National Athletic Directors Association, the Mississippi Education Association, the National Education Association, the Red Red Rose (Mississippi Chapter), Phi Delta Kappa and the Cleveland First Baptist Church.

Delta State University recognized Horace L. McCool by naming the stadium at Travis E. Parker Field in his honor. Through a Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning resolution, the name of Delta State’s football facility became Travis E. Parker Field at Horace L. McCool Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007. In true McCool fashion, after speaking to the team before the game, Delta State went on to rout Arkansas Tech, 43-14, before 7.254 fans.

During a press conference on Friday, Oct. 5, 2007, McCool said, “I am honored beyond words. Delta State has always been such an important part of my life and for over 30 years I have called it home. I want to thank the University, President Dr. John Hilpert, Jeremy McClain and all of the former assistant coaches and players who made this possible.”

McCool was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Bole of Shaw. The couple has three children, one daughter Memorie Naron of Cleveland, and two sons, Mike McCool of Jacksonville, Fla., and Scott McCool of Houston, Texas. The McCool’s are the grandparents of seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. For more information please contact: Sarabjit Jagirdar, Email:-

Fionn MacCool’s Irish Pub, Fishers, Indiana

Sadly, the irish pub in Fishers, Indiana called Fionn MacCool’s closed its doors yesterday. <========= Story <========= Website <========= Email (in case you want to express support)

Finn McCool’s Football Club

Finn McCool’s Football Club by Stephen Rea is more than a soccer book. Finn McCool’s is a pub in New Orleans. The football (soccer) club is comprised of patrons. The story is about their lives being shaken after hurricane Katrina. Alas, I have not read the book but a friend has a copy (hurry up, Steve). The below information is directly from the Amazon web page for the book. If you are interested in buying a copy, please click here (this is a link to Amazon which gives me a miniscule commission).  Thank you.

“Score 10-nil for Rea and the McCools.” –The Irish American Post

“Rea’s book brings one of the biggest stories of the century down to a touching, emotional, personal level in a solid debut effort.”

Product Description
After jetting around the world, Stephen Rea left Belfast to settle in New Orleans in 2004. Life in the Deep South proved to be startlingly different from that in Northern Ireland, and Rea struggled to find an outlet for his love of soccer. Before long, the Ulsterman stumbled upon Finn McCool’s pub and the wonderfully eccentric, international crowd that gathers there to watch European football games.

Frank “the Tank,” the pot-growing Dutch national; Dave “the Rave” Ashton, a forty-six-year-old physiotherapist from Manchester dubbed “the world’s oldest teenager”; and Benji Haswell, a former political activist from South Africa, are three of the rare and vibrant characters who populated the pub’s stools. Soon Rea, along with this idiosyncratic mix of locals and ex-pat regulars, formed a pub soccer team, joined a league, and started dreaming of victory.

On August 28, 2005, with former pro footballer Scottish Steve “Macca” McAnespie as their coach, members of the team sat in the pub discussing their upcoming match. The next day, Hurricane Katrina enveloped the Gulf Coast, scattering Rea and his teammates around the world in seek of shelter and stability.

This luminous, gripping work follows the author and Finn regulars as they rebuild their lives and their team. With a masterful combination of dry humor and astute profundity, Rea reflects on his adopted city, providing powerful insight into the lives of the foreign-born and minority groups that stayed behind during Katrina due to the little they had to lose. Filled with equally hilarious and sobering anecdotes and no shortage of good soccer stories, Rea seamlessly weaves his experiences alongside his teammates’ harrowing survival stories. A breathtaking and incredible debut celebrating camaraderie, sportsmanship, and survival, “Finn McCool’s Football Club” stands out as a haunting and powerful memoir filled with laughter, loss, astonishment, and of course, soccer.

From the Publisher
“An uplifting account of friendship, football, and overcoming the odds in the face of tragedy. Stephen Rea has scored an impressive winner.”
–Derek Rae, senior UEFA Champions League commentator, ESPN

“Great story about real characters bonded by a passion for football and life.”
–Stephen Nicol, two-time MLS All-Star coach, head coach, New England Revolution

“‘Finn McCool’s Football Club” is a must-read for soccer fans.”
–Tommy Smyth, “The Auld Onion Bag Man,” ESPN commentator

From the Inside Flap
“Stephen Rea uses one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history as the backdrop for a love story–not your average love story either, as it’s also the love of a city, the ties that bind friends, and the passion for a sport. Soccer brings fans from around the globe together and that has never been proven more true than in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Rea’s book brings one of the biggest stories of the century down to a touching, emotional, personal level in a solid debut effort.” –Phil Schoen, GolTV commentator In 2004, Belfast-born Stephen Rea moved to New Orleans, a city where “football” means something entirely different than what it does for the British. After struggling to find a place to watch European soccer games, Rea discovered Finn McCool’s pub and its mixed clientele of good-humored European ex-pats, charismatic New Orleanians, and assorted matchless personalities. Irishmen exchanged jokes with the Scots, and the Dutch, English, and South African sat together swapping stories over murky drinks. Rea the Ulsterman became a regular and before long he was playing on the pub’s motley over-thirty-five fledgling soccer team. Gathered at the bar on August 27, 2005, members of the team were discussing their upcoming match, untroubled by the impending storm and unknowing that their city and team would nearly be obliterated by Hurricane Katrina in a matter of hours. Days later, the lucky among them were scattered across the country; the others struggled to survive as they awaited rescue in New Orleans. With clarity and compassion, Rea examines the disaster as he profiles the experiences of his teammates and their efforts to resurrect the team and pub that had become so central in all of their lives. A gripping and moving memoir about an unusual pub team and a devastating natural disaster, this work is a celebration of ex-pats and pubs, soccer and sportsmanship, and the strength it takes to rebuild a team, a city, and a life.

From the Back Cover
“Stephen Rea’s gripping tale of how he and his New Orleanian band of %ifutbol%r player/friends survived Hurricane Katrina and regrouped is a study in tenacity. . . . Sports lovers, particularly those who dig soccer, can find plenty of action within the pages, as well. This is a book for fans of New Orleans, of the universal ball game, of ex-pats and of pubs. Score 10-nil for Rea and the McCools.” –The Irish American Post “An uplifting account of friendship, football, and overcoming the odds in the face of tragedy. Stephen Rea has scored an impressive winner.” –Derek Rae, senior UEFA Champions League commentator, ESPN “%b%iFinn McCool’s Football Club%r is a must-read for soccer fans. The grit and determination displayed by these lads in the face of disaster is amazing. Their spirit and never-say-die attitude is captivating. When the history of soccer is written in the U.S., I hope the players, management, and fans of the Finn McCool’s club will get proper recognition for the major role they were able to play in promoting ‘the Beautiful Game.'” –Tommy Smyth, “the Auld Onion Bag Man,” ESPN commentator “Great story about real characters bonded by a passion for football and life.” –Stephen Nicol, two-time MLS All-Stars coach and head coach, New England Revolution

Finn McCool surf shop in Dingle, Ireland

New shirts available at Finn McCool’s Surf Shop in Dingle, Ireland. Darn, I did not make it that far on my trip to Ireland. If any US person visits there, PLEASE bring me back a shirt.

McCools in historic newspapers

By now, you know that I am a fanatic about finding information about McCools. I do tons of family history research and lots of just messing around. Today, I revisited the Library of Congress’ website. I found an area where they have digitized old newspapers. This is the direct link: You can also get to it by going to, clicking on Historic Newspapers, then clicking on Search Pages.

Of course, my first search was for “McCool” in all of the newspapers. Wow, what a collection. It has 804 results; each result is an article or ad in a historic newspaper. Fantastic. Shall I say, very McCool. Just on the first page of 10 results, there are two McCool Typewriter ads and an article about a “high roller” named McCool. I wanted to post it here so that others know about it and so that I can easily find it again. My organization is not A++.

Here is the direct link to the results: