There was great sadness and disbelief as the news of Vincent Conlon’s passing filtered through Westport and surrounding areas in August. Vincent passed away peacefully in the wonderful care of the Orthopaedic Ward, Mayo University Hospital, Castlebar, on Tuesday, August 14, in the presence of his family. His untimely death came following a short period of illness.
Vincent was a gentle giant, a big man, with a heart of gold, who knew how to enjoy life to its fullest. Despite his ups and downs in life, he never looked for a shoulder to cry on. Nothing was ever an issue and any problem could be solved. He lived life on his own terms – and what a life it was! For those who knew him, it was a pleasure.
Vincent left Ireland at a very early age. In England, he worked hard and over time became a master of his trade. There, he married his first love, Frances, the mother to his two children, Michael and Penny. In 1968, Vincent returned home to the west of Ireland, with his family, and eventually settled in Sheeaune, Westport.
Vincent was always an enterprising man. Together with his brother Padraic, he set up a vibrant construction business in Westport. Some of buildings that they constructed are still, today, cornerstones of the local community. An example of this is the MacBride Home. He had a huge impact and input in the local community, from the initiation of a snooker hall, boxing club and cycling club, to becoming a member of the Westport Urban Council in the early 70s. It was there he was instrumental to improving the water supply to the Cottages and the Upper Quay area of the town. Later, he opened TipTop service station, a landmark in Westport, where he worked alongside his family, for many years. Sadly, Frances passed away in 1974, leaving Vincent and his family devastated. Sometime after, he met his second love, Ann. Vincent and Ann enjoyed thirty six, happy, fun filled years together. He was truly blessed to have loved twice.
Vincent had many different roles in his life. He was a loving husband, a great father to Michael and Penny, a caring brother to Anne, Padraig, Frank and Son, a dependable friend to a large amount of people. To his grandchildren Louisa, Jamie, Karen, and Cliona, Vincent was an incredible grandfather. Talk to any of them and they would agree that most of their fondest childhood memories happened in and around Vincent and Ann’s house. They were always welcomed with open arms and a smile, even when any or all of the grandkids could appear unannounced, at any hour of the day. Vincent was always there, there to rescue them when they got stuck climbing trees, or whenever they needed an alibi for some reason or another! He was a mentor to each and every one of them, the grand children would often rely on Vincent for a wealth of knowledge and referred to him as a bit of a ‘know-it-all’ and some joke that he was the internet before the internet existed!
Vincent and Ann were deeply in love throughout their 36 years of marriage to each other. They spent their time holidaying together, spending summer after summer travelling in their trusty camper van where they explored the continent in Spain and France. Along their journey, at home and away, Vincent and Ann met many new friends who remained friends for life. It was no secret that Ann was not a big fan of flying, so after discovering all that Achill Island had to offer, they both found a comfort that no foreign soil could ever live up to. Achill later became Vincent and Ann’s second home, where they, along with their beloved Westie Joey, would enjoy many summer evenings, months at a time, enjoying the locals and each other’s company. Even after Ann’s passing, Vincent remained connected to Achill where he would visit with his granddaughter Karen, to see old friends and share a laugh and stories of the ‘good old days’.
Removal was from his home to St Mary’s Church in Westport, where during Vincent’s funeral Mass, members of his family and friends did the readings and prayers of the faithful, his granddaughters Karen and Cliona Ketterick brought up the gifts, while his grandson Jamie Conlon addressed the congregation on behalf of the family. The Mass was also complemented with beautiful music from Michael Lavelle and Kevin Morrin. Then, at the graveside in Aughavale Cemetery, as Vincent was lowered to eternal rest, next to his beloved wife Ann, one of his old friends - Willy Kelly - paid a fitting tribute by playing the guitar and singing one of Vincent’s favourite songs.
Vincent is survived and greatly missed by his daughter Penny, son Michael, daughter-in-law Mary, son-in-law Seán, sister Anne, brothers Padraig and Frank, grandchildren Lousia and Jamie Conlon, Karen and Cliona Ketterick, foster son Michael Harbinson and many nieces and nephews.
Fr Ger Quirke was joined in celebrating Vincent’s life at his Funeral Mass by Canon Tony King, who read the Gospel. This was a fitting finale to a life lived with joy, as 42 years previously, Canon King was present for one of Vincent’s happiest moments, when he married him and Ann in Our Lady of the Wayside Church in, Creeragh, Connemara. Vincent’s passing will leave a huge void in his family and with his friends. May he have peaceful rest.