Ocean View, The Quay, Westport
Thomas (Tom) Higgins passed away, suddenly in the end, after a long illness, on the 6th of September 2018 at Mayo University Hospital. Tom was predeceased by his parents and his brother Joe.
Tom Higgins ‘The Buck on The Bike’ was born on the 2nd of February 1952, just a couple of months after the passing of his father, Thomas also. He was the youngest of six children, four boys and two girls and his mother Sarah reared them all in Fr Angelus Park until she died when Tom was just seventeen years old. It was either coincidence or fate that Tom’s Funeral Mass was on the same day his mother would have celebrated her 100th birthday.
Because he had never seen his father Tom had the cure for thrush – gift from God. Tom cured many a person down through the years, creating great joy and relief for the parents of many young children.
Tom was a sports enthusiast and he enjoyed his football, gaelic and soccer, hurling, horse racing, greyhound coursing and golf. Winning Gar Golden’s Captain’s Prize in Westport Golf Club in 1975 was a proud moment for him – a feat that was all the more exceptional, as he did not play that often. His prize of a table and a lamp still sits proudly in his sitting room at home.
An Arsenal fan, Tom enjoyed the banter with rival supporters around the town and in the coursing season he loved nothing more than be out on a hunt or at a meeting.
Tom was a man of simple needs, no fuss required. Having lost his parents so young, leaving his brothers and sisters to guide him, family was always important to Tom.
He met Delma, a Meath woman from Julianstown in 1976 and they married in August 1980 and lived in Fr Angelus Park before moving to Ocean View in 1984. Tom always had great love and great time for his children, Sarah and Thomas and in later years his grandchildren, Toby, Liam, Patrick and Thomas. There was always a family gathering on a Sunday morning out the Quay for Tom’s famous breakfasts. He would be delighted when all would arrive and he would be running around tending to the oven making sure everybody was fed. Tom always made you feel welcome and you would be greeted with the big smile and the “Hello, how are we”, when you came to the door.
Tom was a man of great character and resilience. In his nearly two-and-half years battle with cancer he kept his game face on. Always a smile, not once complaining and even on his low days when you’d ask how he was you’d get “I’m fine, oh I’m sound”. It never got in the way, he just got up and got on with it.
Tom was a creature of habit and had his routines every day, picking up his paper, heading into town on his trusty steed, calling in to PP’s for the tea and the craic with the staff and the customers before doing his errands in town. Westport and the Quay was Tom’s patch and he never wanted to venture further than the bike (or the merc as he called it) could take him.
He was one of Westport’s great characters who will be sorely missed by both young and old, and I think for a long time to come when we’ll catch a glimpse of a silhouette of a man on a bike coming in the distance, we’ll stop and think, is that Tom Higgins, but alas not, there was only one Tom.
A popular character about the town, and evidence of this was clearly seen in the large crowds that gathered to pay their respects on the Friday evening at Tom’s removal in McGing’s Funeral Home.
Fr Charlie McDonnell celebrated Tom’s Funeral Mass on Saturday in St Mary’s Church, Westport, a beautiful Mass which included songs and hymns sung by Tom’s nieces Sandra and Mary Rose.
Gifts were brought to the altar to represent Tom’s simple lifestyle, a model bike brought by his sister Teresa, his only mode of transport, and his newspaper, his cap and his mug, brought up by his sister Mary, nephew Keith and his sister-in-law Tessie. The Bread and Wine were brought up by his brother Padraic and his niece Cliodhna. Readings were by his nieces Cara and Sinéad and the Prayers of the Faithful were read by his friends Noel and Micheal, brother Michael and his nephews and nieces, Jason, Mark, Virginia and Siobhán. The Eulogy was delivered by his son-in-law Michael.
A Guard of Honour escorted Tom’s funeral cortege up the town, Westport GAA Club on one side and Westport Coursing Club on the other and led by friend Noel Morrin pushing Tom’s bike.
Tom was brought to Aughavale cemetery where Fr Micheál McGréil presided over the burial.
Tom was a man who brought a smile to all he met and he had many a good saying. One that comes to mind as he would bid farewell was “God Bless Ye”.