Greenwood, Bekan, Ballyhaunis
JIMMY Hickey, Greenwood, Bekan, who died recently following a very short illness, was a firm favourite with the people of the Bekan and Ballyhaunis region. He was aged 79 and lived all his life in the Greenwood area.
A man with a wonderful sense of humour, Jimmy was known far and wide for his witty comments and way with words. He was the best of good company and was always in demand wherever he went. He loved people and friendship and was one of nature’s gentlemen.
Jimmy was one of a family of five born to Pat and Mary Hickey and was predeceased by his brother Tommy who died in England in 1992. He married Mary Waldron from Cloonterriffe, Knock and they raised a family of five, three sons and two daughters.
Jimmy was devoted to his family and had a warm and welcoming nature. He had a wonderful rapport with his grandchildren and they loved the humour and laughter that was always associated with a visit to the home in Greenwood.
A few months ago on September 6, 2006, Jimmy and Mary celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and he was in top form that day. Mass was celebrated in the family home and afterwards a party was enjoyed by family, friends and neighbours.
In his young years, he worked as a driver with Val Byrne’s family business that operated in Ballyhaunis back in those years. However, farming was to be his chosen way of life and he was very much a man of the land at heart.
A good judge of livestock, Jimmy was well known at the local marts and always looked forward to the social side of the day, meeting friends and neighbours and being part of the special and time-honoured fabric of rural life.
In earlier times, Jimmy was an integral part of that great ‘meitheal’ spirit which was such a feature of life in rural areas. At threshing time, he was always there to lend a helping hand in the neighbouring farmyards as the men of the village rallied around to lend their support to each other when the ‘thrasher’ came around. Even then, Jimmy’s legendary ability to entertain was already well known throughout the locality.
Back over the years, Jimmy was especially synonymous with doing impersonation of the famous RTÉ Radio commentator, Micheal O’Hehir. Jimmy had a great love for Gaelic games and was familiar with the names of all the top players not just in the western counties but all over the country.
What added tremendous gaiety and laughter to Jimmy’s commentaries in pubs or wherever was that he always included some neighbours on his ‘team’ as he regaled his listeners with their exploits in Castlebar or Roscommon, Tuam or Croke Park. Whatever about Mayo’s fortunes on the actual field of play, they always emerged victorious in Jimmy’s commentaries with, more often than not, one of the neighbours always getting the “winning” score as the game reached a crescendo of excitement.
He retained his great love for Gaelic games to the very end and always looked forward in a special way to the summer championships and the extensive coverage through the Sunday Game and the weekend qualifiers.
Ronane’s of Bekan and Paddy Phillips’ in Ballyhaunis were two of his favourite ‘locals’. Many were the people he entertained with his storytelling in these places over the years. He was never short of company and was also known to sing a few songs into the bargain. One thing was certain, there was plenty of craic when Jimmy was around.
Jimmy was also a very close friend of Paddy Phillips and it was a friendship that was valued by both men. Paddy’s death was a source of deep sadness for Jimmy and there was an especially poignant moment on the evening of Jimmy’s funeral when the hearse stopped briefly outside Paddy Phillips’ on its way to Bekan church. Old friends are best.
Another favourite place in recent years was George Delaney’s in Ballyhaunis and the regular ‘Thursday’ club of friends who faithfully came together for a drink and the craic and banter week after week. The gathering of these old friends was the social highlight of the week for all of them and a hugely important part of their lives.
Removal took place from Donnellan’s Funeral Home in Ballyhaunis to Bekan Church with burial in the local cemetery following Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr Paddy Mullins and assisted by Fr Joe Feeney, PP, Ballinlough, Canon Joe Cooney, PP, Ballyhaunis and Fr Martin O’Connor, PP, Ballindine.
He is survived by his wife Mary and family, Pat, Tom, Mary, James and Pauline, in-laws, grandchildren, brother Brendan (Knock), sisters Agnes (Galway) and Mary (Birmingham), nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and many friends. MC.