Be careful the Coalisland cat! Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni bags locally made feline souvenir ahead of Euro 2012

His humorous broken-English musings have warned Irish football fans to beware the cat when it is not in the bag.

But now Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni will be hoping that one special cat will bring him luck as his side’s Euro 2012 campaign kicks off.

The 73-year-old Italian received a lucky black bog cat souvenir, which was handmade in Coalisland, ahead of the big summer tournament.

The turf-craft gift, made by local business Island Turf Crafts, was presented to Trapattoni during his visit to the Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, Co Mayo, in April.

(Be careful the cat: Scroll down for a video of a memorable Trapattoni press conference)

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is presented with a lucky black bog cat, handmade in Coalisland

He had joined Taoiseach Enda Kenny and a crowd estimated at 1,500 people for a charity climb.

Staff at the visitor centre gave Trapattoni the lucky black bog cat after he was spotted examining it among the souvenirs.

Brian MrGirr, who runs Island Turf Crafts in the town, said he was delighted when he heard of Trapattoni’s interest in the bog cat.

He said he hoped the souvenir – said to bring luck, great wealth and happiness to all whose path it crosses – would bring Ireland all the luck they needed for their Euro 2012 campaign.

Mr McGirr said: “We were absolutely delighted. It’s a tradition to their team, so hopefully it will bring them through to the final. For us, it’s a great addition to the Irish team.”

Island Turf Crafts employs a team of eight, who hand craft turf from Derrylaughan into about 40 different items, including souvenirs, jewellery, clocks and crosses, before selling them to shops and online.

Mr McGirr said he discovered about two weeks ago that Trapattoni had taken one of his souvenirs after being contacted by staff at the Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre.

“The sales rep told me and they were delighted because it’s good all round for us – it’s a big thing for us,” said Mr McGirr, who has been working in turf crafts for the past two decades.

But the lucky black cat is not the first time Mr McGirr’s work has caught the eyes of the famous. His handiwork was spotted by former US president Bill Clinton and his family during their historic visit to Belfast in 1995.

“The time Bill Clinton came, he went into a shop, him and his wife and daughter, and bought three pieces and took it all home with them,” said Mr McGirr.

Be careful the cat

Trapattoni’s press conference speeches have earned him an army of fans during his tenure as coach to Ireland’s football squad.

“Be careful the cat! No say the cat is in the sack when you have not the cat in the sack,” he told assembled press on one occasion.

And following Ireland’s play-off win over Estonia, he said: “The cat is in the sack, but the sack is not closed. The cat is in it, but it’s open – and it’s a wild cat.”

Visit Island Turf Crafts to purchase your very own lucky black bog cat


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