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Passing of Westport business and golfing legend Gar Golden

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HIGHLY RESPECTED The late Gar Golden.

Michael Duffy

THE death has taken place of one of Westport’s best known businessmen, Gerard Golden, aged 83. Affectionately known by one and all as ‘Gar’, he was proprietor of Golden’s Pharmacy on Bridge Street for many years, before his retirement at the turn of the Millennium. The business was run by the Golden family since 1932.  
Gar, of the Leenane Road, was heavily involved in the Westport business community all of his life and served as President with the Westport Chamber of Commerce. He was also a past member of Westport Town Council and current Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Westport native, Cllr Brendan Mulroy, paid a special tribute to Gar.
“Gar played a massive role in our Westport community through his involvement in politics, business, voluntary and sporting groups. He was a great man to go to for advice in his pharmacy business. He was always helpful and compassionate and he helped, supported and cared for many a person in our town. My deepest sympathy go to his family and many friends,” said Cllr Mulroy.
Gar was probably best know for his association with the sport of golf in Westport. He was a past president of the Golfing Union of Ireland (1990), former chairman of the Connacht branch of the GUI (1985-1988), past captain (1975) and past president (1990-1992) of Westport Golf Club.
It was indeed fitting that Westport Golf Club’s Junior Cup team bridged a 39-year gap by taking the All-Ireland Junior Cup title on Sunday (See Sport, page 21). The prestigious competition was played for  at Westport Golf Club last weekend and Gar had been asked to officially start the competition before his untimely passing.
A single-figure golfer for most of his life, Gar enjoyed a distinguished career in the game, from shooting 62 at Castlebar in 1963 to winning the Boyden Cup for Westport. He was also a member of the All-Ireland Junior Cup winning team in 1980.

Tribute
This year’s winning Junior Cup captain, Tony Bree, paid a special tribute to Gar after seeing his team win on Sunday afternoon.
“We have all played with Gar a lot down the years,” Bree told Golfnet.ie. “I remember back in 2002 in Galway when we were beaten in the Connacht final by Portumna that year. Gar played in that team, and he was still a fantastic player at that age. He was a great clubman, and he was great for the GUI. He was known in golf clubs everywhere, and he will be fondly remembered in golfing circles all over the country. Hopefully he was looking down on us and got us over the line.”
As an administrator Gar played a central role in securing the current Carrowholly site for Westport Golf Club and was made trustee of the club in 1973, serving up until his passing last week. It was in his year of captaincy in 1975 that the current course was opened by then Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave.
In 1977 and 1985 Gar played a central role in bringing the Irish Close Championship to Westport and was elected as Chairman of the Connacht Branch in 1985.
From there Gar served Connacht in many different roles, before taking on the office of President-Elect in 1989 and on Friday, February, 23 1990, he was elected President of the Golfing Union of Ireland.

Highlight
And perhaps the highlight of his year for him personally was the 1990 Cups and Shields Finals which were held at Westport – where they were also held last week.
In Padraig McLoughlin’s book ‘Westport: 100 Years of Golf’, which was published in 2008, he described how influential Gar was with regard to the game of golf, locally and nationally.
“It would be impossible to quantify the man hours given so generously by Gar Golden to the development of golf in Westport. It would be equally challenging to put into words what he did for golf in Ireland,” wrote Padraig.
A minute’s silence was held at the All-Ireland Cups and Shields Finals at Westport Golf Club at 12 noon on Sunday in memory of Gar.
Gar was predeceased by his treasured wives Judy (1968) and Agatha (in June of this year); brother Joe; son David and grandson Tim. He is deeply missed by his sons Conor and John; daughters Pauline (O’Donovan), Judy and Laura; son-in-law Ben; daughters-in-law Lorna and Kim; sisters Margaret Sutherland (Glasgow); Mary O’Beirne (Baltinglass); brothers-in-law John (Thurles); Richard (Baltinglass) and Alastair (Glasgow); sisters-in-law Caroline O’Flanagan (Blackrock) and Anne O’Donovan (Tullamore), grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and friends.
Huge crowds were in attendance at Navin’s Funeral Home on Sunday afternoon and at St Mary’s Church, Westport on Monday for the funeral Mass. Burial took place afterwards in Aughavale Cemetery. May he rest in peace.