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John Durcan

Obituaries

Cogaula, Westport and formerly Carracastle, Attymass, Ballina

A veil of sadness loomed over Cogaula and surrounding areas following the death of John Durcan on April 12 last at Mayo University Hospital surrounded by his loving family. John was born on October 30, 1944 to James and Mary Durcan (nee Loftus). He was the eldest of two siblings, brother Tony (Dublin). John was born in 1944 in the village of Carracastle, Attymass, Ballina. John always had a penchant for entertaining from an early age when he attended Currower National School. He was famous for standing on tables and doing Oisín and Tir na nOg recitations.  
He won a few awards but the bottom line was that John hated it because around 1950/1951, everyone else was outside with a ball pretending to be Paddy Prendergast and all the Mayo stars, and he was stuck indoors rehearsing.
He once ate some soap and ended up in hospital so he wouldn’t have to compete in a Feis. Upon finishing school, his teachers told him that whatever about his academic abilities, he was the biggest messer that ever went there, but he still managed to finish second in his class.
In 1960, John joined the army and shortly afterwards, aged 17, he was sent on the first of two, six-month tours of duty to the Congo. John also done four six-month tours of duty with he UN missions to Cyprus and two six-month tours of duty to Lebanon.  
Just before going to the Congo in 1960 there were nine Irish soldiers killed in an ambush at Niemba. John was on UN peacekeeping duty and did well there, but it was dangerous and the Balubas (the native tribes) were always trying to attack them.  
One night John and another soldier missed a lift back to their base from the village they were in, and whilst walking home on a dirt track they were surrounded by Baluba warriors with spears and arrows.  They thought they were finished, but the chief came out and said ‘Makooba, Makooba’, which means child. It transpired that their theory was to never kill a boy soldier, and that was how they escaped.  
John spent 36 years in the army and was stationed in Dublin, Athlone, Clifden, Galway and Castlebar. The army also had a break to Bethlehem, where he got lots of bottles of water from the river Jordan and on his return, he gave them to all of his neighbours. In December 1964 John had just returned from another tour of duty in the Congo to attend his father’s funeral, when he met his wife Agatha (nee Kirby) .
They married in Islandeady August 1968 and went on to have six children, Neil, Shane, Franky, Cepta, Bobby and Paul - their first five children all being born in Dublin and the youngest born in Mayo. John and Agatha celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a surprise party in August 2018 with Fr Chris Brennan renewing their wedding vows, surrounded by close family members. John retired from the army in 1996 and went on to work as a porter in The Railway Hotel, Westport and Knockranny House Hotel, Westport. He then spent seven years working in Allergan, Westport, dancing on tables again entertaining all of his work colleagues.  
He also travelled the West of Ireland with his very own road show ‘Jay Dee’s Golden Oldie Road Show’, along with entering many comedy and talent competitions, before he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006. After receiving treatment, John was given the all clear.
Throughout all this, John had become known nationally for his fervent support of Mayo’s senior inter-county Gaelic football team. John dressed in a home-made costume and was never afraid to send a message on an unfurled banner. He became an unofficial mascot to the county’s sporting teams, donning his famous St Patrick costume for women’s and men’s GAA matches at county and club level, and for Westport United’s successful FAI Junior Cup campaign in 2005.  The first banner he made while attending a Mayo game read ‘Holly for Brolly’ in response to Joe Brolly, who had been scathing in his criticism of some of the Mayo players. John suffered a major stroke the day before the All-Ireland final between Mayo v Dublin in September 2013, John fought that day by even bringing his ticket to A&E in the hopes he would be fine.
The Mayo minors won that year and brought the cup into John in the hospital which he and his family were overwhelmed by. After spending nine months between Mayo University hospital and the Sacred Heart home, John finally came home where he was cared for by his loving wife Agatha and their children. But that didn’t stop John from keeping up with all his love of sport.  Whenever you visited John at home, the television would be blaring and there would always be some type of sporting event on the screen. John also attended as many home games in McHale Park, weather permitting, dressed as St Patrick and would attend Westport Town Hall and the cinema. In late March 2019, John took ill again and after a three week battle he passed away peacefully in Mayo University hospital, surrounded by his loving family.
John is predeceased by his parents James and Mary (nee Loftus) and his uncle Jim Loftus (Sligo). John will be sadly missed by his wife Agatha (nee Kirby), son’s Neil (Castlebar), Shane (France), Franky (Kilmeena), Bobby (Cogaula), Paul (Cogaula), daughter Cepta Oldfield (Cogaula), son-in-law Ross, daughters- in-law Isabelle, Michelle and Fidelma; grandchildren Fabien, Sophie, Amy, Emily, Max, Adam, Jesse Lee and Niamh, brother Tony (Dublin), aunt Peg Loftus (Sligo), sister-in-law Connie Napier (Cogaula), nephews, niece, cousins, friends and neighbours.

John’s son Franky wrote and performed this beautiful song at the funeral mass.

The Show is Over

And so the show is over
The curtains been finally drawn
And now the show is over
It’s time to move to the bigger stage

No more will we hear your drum
Beating in the stands
No more will we hear your cry
For the men in the green and red of Mayo

And so we say farewell
The final cannon has been fired
We all stand and salute you
And we are saying thank you for being our dad

So till we meet again
I’ll whisper in your ear
I’ll mind your beating drum
So you play again in the stands above

And so the show is over
The curtains been finally drawn
And now the show is over
It’s time to move to the bigger stage.

 

MPU Mayo