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GAA star Tom Connolly dies

South Mayo unites in grief after death of Tom Connolly

Michael Commins

PROFOUND sadness was occasioned throughout the South Mayo region last week with the news of the sudden death of Tom Connolly, Kilmaine. A native of Lagatallen, Roundfort, Tom (52) was the holder of two Mayo senior championship medals with Garrymore and a member of the team that lost to Nemo Rangers in the All Ireland Club Final of 1982.
Tom was the second youngest of a family of eight, four boys and four girls, born to Nora and John Connolly. He was educated at Roundfort NS and Ballinrobe VS.
His first job was working in Reidy’s Shop in Claremorris. He subsequently secured a job with Thermo King in Mervue, Galway where he spent around 20 years. Later, he was an employee of McHale’s Engineering in Kilmaine where he worked until his untimely passing.
Tom moved to Kilmaine in the early 1990s when he married local girl Mary Maye. They raised a family of three, James (16), Gerard (14) and Fiona (10). Tom and Mary also looked after the family farm and took a keen interest in farming matters.
It was through his involvement with the Garrymore GAA Club that Tom became a familiar face in former years. He graduated onto the senior team in 1981 and won a Mayo senior medal that year and again in 1982. He was corner forward on the team that won the Connacht Club title before losing to Nemo Rangers in the All Ireland Final down in Ennis.
His club colleague from that team, Padraic Flannery (whose mother May also died at the weekend), said the area was deeply saddened to hear of Tom’s death. “I was only talking to him less than two weeks ago. It was always nice to look back on those special years and recall some of the memories and great times we had with Garrymore. Tom was a good forward who made a major contribution to the team and club in those times. He transferred to Kilmaine in the mid-1990s and won an O’Mara Cup medal with them. He was active in coaching underage teams in Kilmaine.
“Tom was kind and good natured, a good father and husband and a great neighbour and loyal friend. He loved to celebrate and was known to sing a song or two when the occasion demanded. We will all miss him and our thoughts are with Mary and his family at this sad time.”
Large crowds attended the funeral ceremonies at the weekend and interment took place in Kilmaine cemetery following Requiem Mass on Sunday. Members of Garrymore GAA Club and colleagues from McHale’s Engineering formed a large guard of honour as a tribute to their departed colleague.
Tom, who was predeceased by his parents John and Nora and by his brother Mattie and sister Helen, is survived by his wife Mary and family James, Gerard and Fiona, brothers Michael (Roundfort) and Seán (Meath), sisters Mary (Ballindine), Sarah and Caroline (Westport), in-laws, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and many friends.