St Patrick’s Terrace, Westport
The death took place of Ollie Gannon at Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar on November 15, 2018. He was 60 years of age. Following a three-year battle with cancer, which he fought each and every day with a positive frame of mind, the battle was ultimately lost. From the very first day Ollie was diagnosed with his illness he adopted a never surrender stance and lived every day to the full. He never accepted he would lose this battle that he found himself in. His end came swiftly and peacefully nine days after been admitted to hospital.
Ollie was a man of faith and visited St. Mary’s church Westport, almost every day of his illness. The time he spent in the church gave him strength in his own belief that God was on his side and that he would prevail. He took great comfort from this.
Growing up he was a big soccer fan and a loyal Arsenal supporter. He was a regular traveller to Arsenal games in England and was accompanied mostly by his friend Pat Foley. He was an active member of Westport United for many years both as an underage coach, and as chairman of the club.
After leaving school Ollie commenced his working career with Westport Textiles and later joined Allergan Pharmaceuticals where he was employed up to the time of his death.
Ollie had a keen interest in politics and was elected three times as a Fine Gael member of Westport Town Council. He held the office of Cathaoirleach of the council on three occasions. He took his membership of the council seriously and would always be well prepared for the monthly meetings. He did not like or indeed tolerate as Cathaoirleach of the council, party political bickering. He saw the council as a community council and believed that all elected members had the best interests of Westport at heart and should always act accordingly. He adopted a strong stance against the abolition of Town Councils. He continuously made the case for judging Town Councils on their merits and performance. He pointed out at every opportunity he got, that Westport Town Council paid its way and was self-financing, with the benefits of this clear to be seen in terms of improvements to Westport carried out by the Town Council.
Ollie was an unquestioned authority on the US Kennedy clan. There was very little ever printed about the Kennedys that he had not read. He was fascinated by the Kennedy’s, ranging from the assassination of JFK, the various conspiracies, J Edger Hoover, CIA, FBI and of course the Mafia. On visits to the US, Ollie always spent time digging up more information on the Kennedy’s and visited several places associated with the Kennedy clan.
A not well-known fact was that Ollie was a keen ornithologist. Armed with his binoculars he would spend hours at Westport quay or at Bertra beach and further afield, studying the movements of his feathered friends. He loved to talk about the mallard duck and the curlews, the snipe and the wild geese, and how they flew to ground or sea and their inflight movements. In an earlier life as a member of Westport gun club he spent time shooting these same birds but changed direction at a later stage. He loved nature and in particular all matters to do with the comings and goings of birds.
Ollie was devoted to his mother Celsus, who now resides at the Pilgrims Rest Nursing Home. He visited her almost every single day and made sure she wanted for nothing. During his illness his top priority was his mother and the challenges he himself faced were always secondary to that.
Ollies passing was greeted with widespread sorrow throughout the community and this was evidenced with the large number of people that attended his funeral. Removal from Navin’s Funeral Home to St Mary’s church was accompanied by a guard of honour made up of members of Westport United Football Club, both present and past. The remains were received at the church by Fr Charlie McDonnell and Westport Town Band played as Ollie’s remains made their way to the alter.
The requiem mass was celebrated by Fr McDonnell. Gifts brought to the alter symbolized Ollies life. His friend Pat Foley brought an Arsenal football jersey. Michael Rabbett brought a Westport United football jersey. Ollie’s nephew Jerome, brought a pair of binoculars. Ollie Hopkins brought a book on the life and times of the Kennedys. Michael Ring brought a framed photograph of Ollie wearing his chain of Office as Westport’s First Citizen, symbolizing his love of Westport, his sense of place and community. The pre-mass music was provided by Brendan McNally and included many of the classic songs that Ollie loved.
The readings were done by Ollie’s nephew Darren and his nice Maria. Prayers of the faithful were read by Ollie’s niece’s Katie, Laura, Fiona, Jade and his nephews Paul, Brian, Oisin and Kenneth.
The gifts were brought to the alter by Ollie’s brothers Austin and Jerome.
Music for the requiem mass was provided by the St Mary’s church choir under the direction of Barbara Rabbett. Included were two of Ollie’s favourite hymes ‘How Great Thou Art’ and ‘Nearer My God to Thee’.
The eulogy was given by Ollie’s brother Vincent, in which he outlined Ollie’s life as one of a caring person who always put others first, a man of faith, devoted to his mother and one who wore his heart on his sleeve. He loved to sing and spent time as a member of the church choir and Westport Choral Society. He enjoyed the company of his friends and his loud laughter and ever smile will be missed by all who knew him.
After the requiem mass the cortege made its way through the town flanked by a guard of honour made up of members of Fine Gael and former councillors. Fr Gerard Quirke officiated at the grave side as Ollie’s remains were lowered into the family plot alongside his father. A decade of the rosary in Irish was recited by Fr Michéal MacGreil. The grave side ceremony ended with a rendition of ‘Carrickfergus’ by a group of Ollie’s friends under the direction of Ollie Hopkins.
Ollie will be sadly missed by his mother Celsus, sister Maureen, brothers, James, Austin, Vincent, Jerome, Damien and Patrick. His many friends, neighbours and work colleagues. He was pre-deceased by his father Bertie, his brother Bertie and his sister Phyllis.
by Victoria Bruce
For a second you were flying
Like you always wanted to
Now you’ll fly forever
In skies of azure blue
We’ll see your smile in every ray
Of sunshine after rain
And hear the echo of your laughter
Over all the pain
The world’s a little quieter now
The colours have lost their hue
The birds are singing softly
And our hearts are missing you
Each time we see a little cloud
Or a rainbow soaring high
We’ll think of you and gently
Wipe a tear from our eye
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.