Respect was his byword

The Cast Stone

MUCH MISSED The late Tom McNally, who was laid to rest last week.


The Cast Stone
Michael Gallagher

What’s the definition of respect? The dictionary on my desk tells me it’s ‘to have due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others’, and who could argue with that?
Famously, Nelson Mandela once said ‘respect’ was earned far away from fame and the public eye.
“I have always admired men and women who used their talents to serve the community, and who were highly respected and admired for their efforts and sacrifices, even though they held no office whatsoever in government or society,” the former President of South Africa stated.
On Tuesday last, I watched a young man step onto the altar in St Mary’s Church in Westport and speak about his father, his best friend and the life-lessons picked up along the journey they had walked together.
Christopher McNally never imagined he’d find himself standing in the packed church, in front of family and friends speaking about his father who had passed away a few days earlier.
Tom McNally left life very quickly. A short illness had taken him away very quickly and there was genuine shock all across the community. Tom was a powerful man in every sense. He was physically imposing but that’s not what set him apart. The big man made an impression on everyone he encountered because he was laden down with respect.
He was a renowned security consultant and to be successful in that game, one has to show true regard for the feelings, wishes and rights and of others. Tom filled that role perfectly. Respect was his byword in all aspects of life.
On Tuesday last, Christopher stood in the church in Westport and told the congregation about the relationship he had with his father. “He was my best friend and I’ll miss him terribly. He taught me so many things, from riding a bike, to having proper manners to how to throw someone out of a pub – the old ‘push and pull’ method. But most of all he taught me respect. Everything he did was about respect for others.”
Christopher never spoke truer words. Anyone who knew Tom will attest to that. The big man was born in Westport but spent much of his youth in Boston where he mixed both cultures brilliantly. He was as comfortable speaking about Fenway as Fahy, The Boston Globe as The Mayo News. Tom was a perfect blend of Boston and Westport – straight-talking, caring, family-orientated, powerful, soft, hard-working, hospitable, generous and a fantastic friend.
He moved back to Westport while still a young man and made a great life for himself on the edge of Clew Bay surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. Tom made a huge impression on everyone he met, and one particular person made a never-ending impression on him. Tessa Tobia was the love of Tom’s life and they set off on life’s journey together. He loved her, she loved him. Simple as that!
Christopher came along and a state of perfection had been achieved.
On the employment front, Tom was developing his security business and work took him to jobs at each end of the glamour spectrum and everywhere in between. He and his colleagues might be working at a celebrity wedding or a State event one day and manning doors of pubs or night-clubs the next. Their work was extremely varied and brought them into contact with everything and everyone society could throw at them, but Tom never changed his attitude. He was the same man walking his dog around the town as he was helping someone leave a pub. He was the same man watching a match in St Brendan’s Park, Kilmeena, as he was keeping some film star out of the public eye.
Tom treated everyone with respect. There was no deviation from that. It was a lesson learned by everyone fortunate enough to spend time with him.
On Tuesday last, Christopher McNally performed a task no young man should have to contemplate, but he delivered his eulogy with great power and respect – just as the big guy had taught him.
Shortly afterwards, Tom McNally was accompanied up Bridge Street one last time by his family, his friends and the men and women who had worked by his side and learned life lessons in his presence.
Tom McNally left this world long before his time, but his influence, his friendship and his great sense of respect will never fade away. His likes will not pass this way again.