John was son of the late Pat and Delia and he had one sister, Mary, who is married to Colm Forkan in Tooreen.
John married Mena Regan from Goulane, Kilkelly and they raised a family of six, five sons and one daughter. All through the years, his family were very much at the heart of his life and, in later times, he had a great rapport with the grandchildren and loved to see them call for a visit.
A man with a fine knowledge of the land, he had a great love for rural life and was very much at home and at peace in this part of east Mayo.
From an early stage, John showed an interest in matters relating to the soil. While a student at Ballyhaunis Vocational School, he won first prize on two occasions for his vegetable garden. These achievements instilled in him a great fondness and respect for the land and the farming way of life. He was noted for his attention to detail and was exceptionally neat and tidy around the farmyard.
Gifted with his hands, John was also involved in the construction of Knock Basilica and was an employee of the John Paul Company during the building of the Basilica from the beginning to its completion in 1976.
All through the years, John retained a huge interest in Gaelic games and followed the summer championships in football and hurling with great interest, always ensuring that he had everything in place to watch the ‘Sunday Game’ series.
Five years ago, John was interviewed for the annual Glór Achadh Mór magazine where he recalled many memories of his young days, the customs and traditions, and his involvement with the GAA and especially the Aghamore club.
Among his recollections were memories relating to his time playing with the minors, winning his only medal in a tournament, and two of Aghamore’s most loyal supporters.
“I had a long career at minor level. I remember playing minor (U-18) for Aghamore and in fact I played minor at the age of 23! I recall being above in Anne Lynskey’s bog in Barnagurry at turf and there was a minor match that evening in Neary’s field and they were short of players and asked me to play. My birthday couldn’t be proved or challenged because I was born in America and that stood me well as a minor for several years!”
“I won a medal below in Cloongullane, Swinford, in an 11-a-side. Indeed, we could hardly make up the 11, as a lot of the lads used to go to England for the seasonal work with farmers in the summer time. But anyway, we decided we’d head to Cloongullane to the 11-a-side tournament. Damien Byrne was only a young lad and I brought him with me in the car and we played him in goal and an agile fellow he was. We won anyway that famous day. We beat Kiltimagh in the final. So we were thrilled and that’s the only medal I ever won at football.”
“The best supporters that ever Aghamore had that turned up to practices and games at Bruff were Tim Meagh and Martin Muldowney of Coogue. They’d never miss a Sunday down at Bruff. They’d always arrive in good time, almost first ones and they used really enjoy the crack, meeting the people and watching the games. They were total regulars. There was no one else I can recall as regulars as those two.”
John was truly one noble gentleman of the parish who contributed enormously to his community over many years. He will be remembered with much affection and sadly missed by his devoted family and close friends.
Removal took place from the Marian Funeral Home, Knock to St. Joseph’s Church, Aghamore, with burial in the local cemetery following Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr John Walsh, PP, and Fr Gabriel Murphy, Cloonloo, a friend of the family.
He is survived by his wife Mena, sons Chris (Elmwood, Claremorris), Sean, Paul, Aidan and Enda (Lismegan), daughter Patricia Halligan (Gortnara, Claremorris), son-in-law Dick, daughter-in-law Celia, grandchildren, sister Mary Forkan (Tooreen Post Office), brother-in-law Colm, nephews, relatives, neighbours and friends. - MC.