ON Saturday morning, June 24, the community of Castlecarra and the greater Carnacon area were deeply shocked and saddened as news spread that one of their great local characters, James (Jim) Casey, had departed this life following a tragic road traffic accident in Claremorris earlier that morning.
Born on September 26, 1933, 83-year-old James (Jim as he was widely known) was a very sprightly and active man and belied his age (anyone who knew him was very surprised to learn of his age).
Son of the late Pat and Ann Casey, Jim and his late twin sister Helen, were the youngest of a family of six. While the eldest member of the family Anne resides in the UK, he was predeceased by his four other sisters Mary, Beatrice, Catherine and Helen.
In his late teens Jim crossed the Irish Sea to join his sisters in England where he worked on the buildings. It was while he was in England that he met his great soul mate and love of his life, his late wife Ann (nee Maloney). On July 20, 1963, they were married in the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Copenhagen Street, Islington, London. Shortly after their wedding they returned home to Ireland where Jim took over the family farm from his father Pat, and which he still farmed up until his untimely death.
After setting up home in Castlecarra, Jim and Ann were blessed with four daughters, Marie, Beatrice, Helen and Orla. As a couple, they were second to none as they worked very hard together and brought up their four children with care and love that was second to none.
However, in 2008 Jim’s life was plunged into darkness with the sudden passing of his beloved wife Ann.
Jim always listed the order of things he cared about and why he cared about it, and this was just the way it was with him. First on the list was his wife Ann, the love of his life, she was at the top of his list, while his four daughters were second, and none of them minded that.
Along with carrying out his farming duties during his lifetime, Jim also worked in various other employment, including the Forestry, Board of Works, Mayo County Council and local employment schemes.
Yet, farming was always his great love, and he took great pride in his farm machinery. Indeed, he could spend hours assembling bits and bobs together, and always had his machinery in fine tune.
One could only say that Jim was a hardworking man all his life and was never phased in what he had to do to provide for his family. He just took everything in his stride and never complained.
But Jim was also a man who was blessed with good health throughout his life and rarely complained of an ache or pain. He also had a vivid memory and could recall stories he heard and things that happened since he was knee high. His great memory stayed with him right up until God called him from this life a few weeks ago. Indeed, all of his grandchildren, whom he was very proud of and fascinated by, was testament of this as they were treated to many of his fine stories of yonder years.
Jim was man who took great pride in the achievements of his late wife Ann and his four daughters and other family members, also the accomplishments of his manyfriends. Just about everything in his life centred around caring for others.
Besides work Jim also found time to socialise. He was a great singer and had a great love for Irish Traditional Music and ballads like ‘Danny Boy’, ‘Spancil Hill’ and ‘Maggie’.
He also had a great love of reading newspapers most notably The Farmers Journal, Farmers Weekly, The Irish Independent and The Daily Mirror from his time in England.
But he loved nothing better than meeting and chatting with people. He had so many friends and visited them regularly. It would not have been unusual to see Jim driving on any road in west or south Mayo, such was the wide range of friends he had. Indeed, it was while driving home from visiting one group of friends in Claremorris that his fatal accident occurred.
One thing Jim didn’t miss on a weekly basis was attending the local Claremorris Motor and Machinery Auction every Wednesday night, and come hail, rain or snow he would be there. The same applied on the last Sunday of every month as he went to the car boot sale in Market Square in Castlebar where he loved to pick up a bargain. This was alluded to by Fr Michael Farragher in his homily at Jim’s funeral Mass in which he told the congregation of Jim’s latest purchase of a bread maker, which he thought would make homemade bread like Ann made it. As one can see, his beloved Ann was never far away from his mind.
However, it was his special and endearing qualities that drew people to him. Always in good humour, he always was ready for the chat and easily made friends with anyone whom he came in contact with.
But above else the evidence of this great respect and esteem in which he was held was shown to it fullest by the massive crowds who turned up at the funeral home and funeral Mass to pay their last respects to his grieving family.
Speaking of his funeral Mass where memories of his great life were recalled by Fr Michael in his homily, it was fitting that one of his great passions in life, music, was very much part of the Mass. During the offertory his grandaughter Aoife Jordan played ‘Spancil Hill’ on the tin whistle, while his daughter Beatrice paid him a magnificent tribute by singing one of his favourite songs and sung many times himself, ‘Danny Boy’. The congregation was notably moved by this tribute as there wasn’t a dry eye in the church. Heartfelt sorrow and emotion was very evident for all to see.
The best way to sum up the great life of Jim Casey is by an old Latin phrase – Veni, vidi, vici, which translates as - I came,
I saw, I conquered.