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Island’s last lighthouse keeper passes away

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LIGHTHOUSE MEMORIES The late Jackie O’Grady on Clare Island’s Green Road.

Áine Ryan

THE light may have been quenched on the life of Clare Island native and longtime Clifden resident Jackie O’Grady but as his funeral takes place today (Tuesday) the lyricism of his 2008 memoir, ‘The Green Road to the Lighthouse’ remains a moving memorial to him.
From a well-known island business and seafaring family, the love of the ocean never left O’Grady, a founding member of Clifden RNLI, where the flag was flown at half-mast since the announcement of his death on Sunday morning.
Poignantly, Jackie O’Grady was the last lighthouse-keeper on Clare Island before its light was decommissioned in 1965 after 159 years of providing light for those sailing in and out of  Clew Bay.
In his memoir he writes: “As a boy little did I know that one day it would be my duty as a young ‘keeper to close down the station. I suppose, in a certain way it was fitting that the light be extinguished for the last time by the hand of a man who had lived most of his young life within a few miles of it and whose every night from his earliest memories had been illuminated by its sweeping beam.”
A highly regarded businessman in his adopted town of Clifden, Jackie O’Grady was a devoted husband to his wife, constant companion and love of his life Marion, with whom he developed a successful restaurant and guesthouse in the Co Galway tourism destination.     
Surrounded by Marion, devoted daugthers, Eily and Grace, sons, Michael and Shane, Jackie died peacefully at his home on Chapel Hill on Sunday morning. He will be much-missed also by his daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchild, brothers, sisters, relatives and a wide circle of dear friends.
The late Jackie O’Grady reposed at Sunnybank House before his removal this morning, Tuesday, January 8, to St Joseph’s Church, Clifden, for the Requiem Mass at 12 noon. Burial afterwards will be in Ardbear Cemetery. Family flowers only, donations in lieu to Galway Hospice or the RNLI.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílís.