The funeral took place yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) of Ollie Roache, who died at the age of 50 after becoming ill while swimming at The Point in Westport on Friday evening, June 9.
There was a huge attendance at Mr Roache’s funeral in his adopted parish of Ballintubber, with many of the crowd having to listen to the requiem Mass outside, as there was not a seat to spare inside the historic Ballintubber Abbey.
Mr Roache was extremely well-known throughout the west Mayo region, largely through his involvement in sport, particularly boxing, soccer, and in later years cycling. He was also a well-known poker player in the region.
Tuesday’s Mass was said by local curate, Fr Frank Fahey, with the help of Fr Michael Farragher, PP and Fr Val Hynes, Ballintubber.
The hugely emotional and moving ceremony began with members of Ollie’s family bringing gifts to the altar to remember his life. The items included a family photo, a football, boxing gloves, a cycling jersey and a deck of playing cards.
In his homily, Fr Fahey’s referred to how close Ollie and his wife Ger were as a couple, and that this was illustrated to the very end as she had accompanied him to his swimming training in Westport, and tragically was there to see first-hand all the help that Ollie’s colleagues and even strangers in the area had given in their attempts to try and save his life on the shore at the Quay in Westport.
He also referred to the fact that Ollie, despite being a proud Castlebar man, had settled so well into Geraldine’s home parish of Ballintubber after their marriage, and had recently been pivotal to the setting up of the Ballintubber Cycling Club. Fr Fahey also referred to the fact that Ollie was a proud ambassador for the children’s charity, AIRC, who support children with disabilities in Mayo, and that he had fundraised on many occasions for the organisation.
Towards the end of the ceremony, a haunting version of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ was played in the Abbey, before Jamie, a nephew of Ollie, sang a beautiful version of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, the song so synonymous with Liverpool FC, of which Ollie was a huge fan.
The final words of the ceremony was spoken by Ollie’s daughter Kelly, who bravely fought back the tears to deliver a truly heartfelt and emotional tribute to her father.
Kelly specifically referred to the love her dad showed for all his family, in particular for his ‘soulmate’ Geraldine, for herself and her brother Gavin, and for foster children Norman, Malachy and Pauraic.
Kelly also paid tribute to everyone who was there to help her Dad during his final moments, and she said it was reassuring for her mother that she knew everything possible that could be done to save Ollie’s life, was done. She also thanked the whole Ballintubber and Castlebar communities for their help during this very tough time. After the ceremony, Ollie Roache was laid to rest in the adjoining Ballintubber Abbey cemetery. Ollie is survived by his wife Geraldine (nee Heneghan, from Ballintubber), son Gavin, daughter Kelly; foster children Norman, Malachy and Pauraic; his parents Oliver and Eileen, from McHale Road in Castlebar; brothers Brian, Adrian and Mark; sisters Bernadette and Orla; father-in-law Seán, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, relatives, and a wide circles of friends and neighbours. He was predeceased by his brother Kenneth. May he rest in peace.