BALLYHAUNIS was in shock last week when news broke of the death of one of the area’s best known people, Michael Waldron from Cave just outside the town. Michael, who was affectionately known as “The Minister”, had celebrated his 68th birthday earlier in the night. He died following a tragic accident outside his home.
Michael was known far and wide and was synonymous with the town of Ballyhaunis. He had friends much further afield as well, mainly through his involvement with politics and the Fianna Fail party and also through his love of the GAA. He was also a dedicated gardener and had once again sown his much admired drills of vegetables as he had done for many years.
Only two days earlier, in the company of his brothers Bernie and Tommy, he attended the Connacht Football Final in Hyde Park, declaring it as one of the “best days out” he had enjoyed.
He had a special invitation to join former Roscommon footballer Gerry Fitzmaurice for the celebrations to mark the centenary of Fitzmaurice’s pub in Ballinlough on Friday night and was looking forward to the usual banter between the Mayo and Roscommon supporters. Poignantly the red and green flag was fluttering high in the evening breeze as hundreds queued outside the family home on Friday evening to pay their respects. Faithful to the last.
Earlier on Tuesday, he visited the grave of his great friend, the late Mick O’Connell who was such a highly respected journalist and a leading GAA stalwart too.
“The Minister” enjoyed legendary status around Ballyhaunis. He was truly one of the “old stock” who enjoyed his socializing and sharing philosophical theories on politics and current affairs. He will be greatly missed around town where he was such an institution.
The very large crowds at the funeral ceremonies were truly reflective of the special regard in which he was held by such a legion of people.
His neighbour, Richard Waldron, a member of the Irish Defence Forces, played laments on the bagpipes and led the cortege from the family home to St Patrick’s Church in the town. The coffin was draped in the colours of the local club. Ballyhaunis GAA Club and Mayo GAA members as well as members of the local Fianna Fail party formed guards of honour as a tribute to their departed friend.
Newly appointed Ballyhaunis PP, Fr Stephen Farragher, who knew “The Minister” through his involvement with Mayo and the GAA, delivered a lovely homily which provided consolation and solace for the Waldron family. After the Mass, piper Richard Waldron was joined by Benny Canavan from the Balla Pipe Band and the two men played a series of laments as they led the funeral cortege through the town to Michael’s final resting place in Ballyhaunis cemetery.
The community extends deepest sympathy to his brothers Sean, Bernie and Tom (Cave), sisters Rita Morris (Knock), Bridget McLoughlin (Brackloon) and Mary and Patsy (Leeds), in-laws, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and many friends.