Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Frank McCarthy, Kieran O'Doherty, Lisa Tobin, Anne Redmond and Teresa Campbell

The past week has been marked by the deaths of five members of our local community. Frank McCarthy, Kieran O’Doherty, Lisa Tobin, Anne Redmond and Teresa Campbell left behind treasured memories for family, friends and acquaintances. In the strange world of retained memories when I heard of Frank McCarthy’s passing I immediately tracked back to 1956 when the Athy minor football team won the County Minor Championship of that year. It was the first time I was consciously aware of an Athy team’s success on the football field. That awareness was prompted by the fact that my older brother Tony was centre half forward on the local team on that county final day. Also playing for Athy was Frank McCarthy, whose death at 81 years of age prompted this backward glance at a time of glory for Athy Gaelic Football Club. Earlier in the week Kieran O’Doherty died at 63 years of age. I knew Kieran for some time past and always found him to be a gentleman, whose courtesy and good humour brought him friendships which endured. The huge attendance at his funeral bore testimony to the high regard in which he was held by the people of south Kildare. For me Kieran’s death, like that of Frank McCarthy, brought back memories of a sporting connection. This time it was of the Athy minor team’s success in the County Championship final of 1973. Kieran was a member of that team and he would go on to become a county player for Kildare. His sporting prowess was not confined to Gaelic football, for Kieran, unusually if not uniquely, also featured on the Athy rugby team which won the Provincial Towns Cup in 1984 and was a member of the Athy Golf Club team which won the Provincial Towns Cup in 2005. The sporting headlines always provide an identifiable touchstone when looking back at the life of an Irish male. Less so when those departed are female members of our community. Our sorrow at their loss is no less, but in remembering them we tend to overlook the good they brought into the world of their local communities. Even though I am not a frequenter of the local pub scene I can still recall Teresa Campbell working behind the bar of Reggie Lalor’s pub in Leinster Street. In that role she was following in the footsteps of the long departed Miss Norman who lived in the nearby Fitzgerald fortress known far and wide as Whites Castle. Teresa was a well liked member of Reggie’s staff for over 25 years and indeed she continued working for the new owner for a number of years after Reggie sold the pub. Anne Redmond, who sadly suffered from ill health for the last number of years, was very involved in community affairs in the Townparks area. She encouraged and organised the local community activists and she opened her house for community meetings over many years. Anne was passionate about the need for the local people of Townparks to come together to improve the quality of life in the area. In that respect she made a huge contribution to the improvements noted in that area in recent years. We can understand with compassion and acceptance the death of a person of advanced years, but somehow the death of a young person and a person with caring responsibilities for family members is less readily accepted or understood. Lisa Tobin was a relatively young woman who in the normal course of life might be expected to live for many many more years. Her sudden death is a tragedy for her family and friends. The Athy people until the population explosion in recent years which saw the town population increase from 4,000 to 10,000 always comprised a tight knit community. Local people all knew each other and community involvement in fundraising, whether for a new church or a swimming pool, was an accepted part of life in Athy. Nowadays the personal knowledge of past years cannot stretch to encompass the new arrivals. However, it is very noticeable in the various clubs and associations in and around the town that many of those newly arrived in Athy have become actively involved in community-based activities. Even more pleasing is the often-heard claim that Athy is a friendly town and how the ‘locals’ ie. those with generations of attachment to the town, have welcomed new neighbours with open arms. Truly Athy is a friendly town and a good town made so by many, including the five people who died during the week. Our sympathies are extended to the families of Kieran O’Doherty, Frank McCarthy, Lisa Tobin, Anne Redmond and Teresa Campbell. As I complete this Eye I learned of the death of Michael Owens to whose family my sympathies are also extended.

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