Farewell to Mr Music

County View

MUCH LOVED Larry Hingerton was laid to rest in Westport on Holy Thursday.

County View
John Healy

We laid Larry Hingerton to rest in Aughavale cemetery on Holy Thursday, under the shadow of Croagh Patrick. The drizzling rain fell, on cue, to bless his coffin and to affirm the old proverb of celestial happiness for those on whom the rain falls.
And then it cleared in time for the Westport Town Band, resplendently uniformed, to play a last musical tribute to their mentor and guide and anchor over so many years.
They had done the same the previous evening at Mass in St Mary’s Church, with renditions of verve and vigour of which the maestro would surely have approved, just as he would of the rendition by Joanne Keegan – one of his favourite vocalists – of ‘It’s a Wonderful World’. It was a song he sang himself many times with popular local jazz ensemble, the Octagon Quartet.
Larry Hingerton lived a long and fruitful life during which he shared his talents generously with his adopted town and community. He immersed himself in the life of Westport, giving more than he received. It was fitting that his three great interests – music, boxing and golf – were so well represented at his funeral ceremonies, with guards of honour accompanying his remains on the final journey.
Nor was his a lifetime without tragedy. One of the poignant moments of his obsequies was when the funeral cortege came to a stop at Rosbeg, where Larry’s daughter, Sharon, had lost her life nearly four decades ago in the summer of her Leaving Cert. It was a wound that never fully healed and which, for many years, would test her father’s faith and belief.
It was a feature of Larry Hingerton’s personality that, whatever he turned his hand to, he gave his all. Nothing was done by half, and going the extra mile was inbuilt to all he did. As a young man, he had gone to Paris to perfect his hair-styling skills, returning home to open his first salon at Mill Street. So proficient was he at his art that, in 1960, he was selected to return to Paris to represent Ireland at the world hairstyling Olympiad.
His expertise would, in turn, be shared with generations of young hair-styling students when he was appointed senior instructor with AnCo (later FÁS) at its training centre in Sligo. Here, he turned out a long series of award-winning graduate classes over a quarter of a century (as well as providing an uncomplaining weekend lift service for Mayo students attending a variety of courses in Sligo).
Larry’s sporting interests centred on boxing, in which he participated as a schoolboy, and golf. It was in the mid 60s that, with his great friend John ‘Porky’ McGreal, he set about reviving the defunct St Anne’s Boxing Club. By dint of sheer determination and enthusiasm, although starting from scratch, the club grew and developed to take its place in the top rank of national and international boxing.
Long associated with Westport Golf Club, Larry was a formidable competitor and a dedicated club member, holding the position of President and honoured by his peers by being accorded honorary life membership.
He was also for many years an active member of the Westport unit of the Order of Malta. He was tasked with taking part in the first off-shore mission when, with Martin McNally and Peter Flanagan, a casualty had to be taken by stretcher from Inishgort lighthouse to Rosmoney Pier.
But perhaps his most cherished memory was of being accorded a civic reception by Westport Town Council, shortly before the final abolition of that body. It was a deserved recognition of one man’s contribution to town and community. Larry Hingerton had long done Westport proud; on that memorable night, the favour had been returned.