A great sadness and shock loomed over Westport and its surrounding areas following the sudden death of one of Westport’s finest gentlemen, Frank Gillan, who tragically passed away at 69 years of age on May 16, 2019.
Frank was born in Yeats county, under the foothills of Sligo’s Benbulben, where he experienced a happy childhood growing up on his parent’s farm amongst animals and nature, as the eldest of seven children. As was well known to many a friend of Frank’s, Frank had deep knowledge and intelligence to burn – a man that was certainly more brains than brawn, a man who had a taste for adventure, whether he was immersed in a fantastically woven tale from one of his beloved books, or whether he had the opportunity to explore places like the US, France, South Korea or Vietnam.
From an early age, Frank knew deep within that farm life was not for the eldest Gillan of his family, and that his deeply inquisitive, kind and generous nature needed to really experience the world and what it had to offer. It was at 20 years of age that Frank met and fell in love with his beloved wife Mary, while attending NUI Galway as a student where he studied Science (and later Accountancy). After meeting the quintessential ‘Galway Girl’, he quickly began to showcase his romantic side and she quickly fell for his charm. Mary and Frank spent almost 49 years together, barely spending a day apart. They went on to have six children, Elaine, Mark, Laura, Gary, Maria and Brian, and have dealt with life’s great surprises, peaks and troughs together, supporting each other every step of the way. After the tragic unexpected death of their son Gary, Frank and Mary needed to be closer to home and moved from Dublin to the beautiful town of Westport, where they spent 30 happy years together continuing to raise their young family. Frank worked as an Accountant, and quickly made an impression on every person he met, building friendships, giving people their first start in their career, as well as offering sound advice and help to colleagues in the workplace and further afield.
Frank was a fantastic bridge player throughout the years, and in his later life, he rediscovered his passion for bridge, where he found a great community of friends, alongside the staff and students of GMIT, where he worked for 14 years, immersed in the educational environment that he loved. He was generous with his time, and whatever he had to give as was true to his compassionate nature. Throughout his life, Frank did nothing in half measures. When he cared he cared deeply. When he worked, he worked hard. When he read, he read until the stars appeared. When he spoke, he spoke passionately. When he laughed, he laughed heartily. When he was in thought, he thought intensely. And when he loved, he loved fiercely.
His kind eyes always shone with a bright twinkle, familiar to all in his presence, with an air of mischief, and a beautiful smile on his warm face. His zest for life, his ability to live so presently, and in the moment everyday, is a rare thing that most of us never truly get to experience. Frank was a phenomenal, supportive and loving husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, friend, colleague and human being. He is survived by his loving wife Mary, daughters Elaine, Laura and Maria, sons Mark and Brian, daughter-in-law Ciara, and by his beloved grandchildren Joey and Ella. The huge crowd who paid their respects at his home, and who attended the funeral and crematorium services are a testament to the high esteem in which Frank was held in the community. May his gentle and kind soul rest in peace.