ON HOME GROUND ?The late Johnny Groden (second from right) is pictured at the Sheepdog Trials at the Murrisk Pattern Day in 2013, at the foot of Croagh Patrick, from left: Tom Gill, Eneas Keane, Joe and Sean Scahill, Gerry Nugent, Bartley O’Malley, Johnny Groden and Fr Micheál MacGréil. ?Pic: Conor McKeown
Johnny Groden – as honourable as Croagh Patrick
It’s hard to believe that Johnny Groden is gone. Many of us thought he was as perennial as his beloved Croagh Patrick. He lived too close to the sacred cone to fall within its shadow. You could say that he spent his life propping up his cherished Reek. He lived, moved and breathed Croagh Patrick.
Unlike most mountains Croagh Patrick has a sacred tradition and history, known to millions as a holy mountain. This is the tradition and history from which Johnny Groden emerged. In human terms a sacred mountain is a person who gives, just like Johnny.
Croagh Patrick provides refreshment on so many levels, from the physical to the spiritual. It renews the body with its invigorating energy. It enhances the mind with its freshness, offering new thoughts on well-worn paths. It enriches the spirit and provides encouragement to face further challenges.
Its great history offers strong supports when trials loom. Its presence is a comfort for those unable to scale its peak yet happy in the awareness of its existence. Its antiquity is another of its strengths, unchanging in its changeableness. The Reek is a great giver of life in many forms.
These are the attributes Johnny Groden brought to his family, community and all those who ever had the pleasure of meeting him. He was the perpetual giver. That mark of selflessness is etched in his family and his Murrisk community. It is a gift he also graced across the county and country through his work with Western Care and as a member of various committees and forums.
The trail of goodness also crossed international boundaries through his endless work. Numerous foreign visitors to Croagh Patrick and Murrisk have benefitted because of Johnny Groden’s vision, hard work and community spirit. He had a great work ethic. He was a doer, preferring to leave the over-analytical minds to ponder on the finished job rather than muse on when, how, who and where the work should begin.
Once, over Friday afternoon coffee, I told him that I had to get steps at my back door. “I’ll be at your house at nine o’clock in the morning.” My protests were brushed aside as he went on to discuss other matters.
The next morning he arrived with car, trailer, sand, cement and shovels. We were soon having the tea, after the long-awaited steps were allowed to dry. Many feet have trodden over Johnny’s steps since then, most unaware of the unsung, selfless friend who created them.
Johnny Groden was as practical a man as they come. In conversation with him it might often seem that ‘red tape’ would slow him down. Most community improvement works required streams of administration and approvals.
Johnny had a knack of bringing the ‘red tape crew’ along with him. His disposition was such. He had great nature. He might complain to you about the ‘red tape’ but he knew it was the modus operandi so he made sure that all boxes were ticked.
It didn’t mean every project was plain sailing but it certainly reduced the capacity for disaster on many an occasion. He knew that each partner in every project was necessary and that all associates had a part to play. The ‘ideas’ man was one part of a long process until the project was completed. Johnny ensured that every scheme was brought to a successful conclusion.
He had a great sense of humour. He often laughed at himself and the various antics employed to complete a project. He could always see the funny side. He could be firm when he had to be, standing up for his community and his beliefs. He was a man you always wanted on your side. You knew where you stood with Johnny Groden. He never had a hidden agenda.
He was a deeply caring man. His family always came first. He loved his work and his community. All his loves were rooted in a deep faith. The sanctity of the Reek rubbed off on him. His life and living were as honourable as the holy mountain, under which he rests, in eternal peace, home from home. Requiescat in pace.