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John McGreal


Rockfield, Claremorris

JOHN McGreal, Rockfield, Barnacarroll, who died recently a week short of his 64th birthday, was widely known around the Barnacarroll and neighbouring areas. He was the only son of the late Nora (nee Brady and Mike McGreal and was also predeceased by his sister Kathleen.
John, who had been coping with an illness for some time, had his own circle of friends down through the years. He was a man of independent thought who was always willing to stand his ground and had a special interest in politics and current affairs.
The overflow congregation at the Funeral Mass in Barnacarroll heard his former neighbour, Padraic McManus, who has resided in Dublin for many years, speak fondly of John, in a humourous eulogy at the end of the Mass.
At the outset, Padraic reflected that he couldn’t help but think that this was the farthest up the church and the quietest in the church that John had been for years.
Chapter 1 – Interests. “John might glance at you assembled here and think of the things he knew about most of you. He would remember the make, model and registration number of your first cars.
“He would also claim to know who you all voted for......maybe not the way you voted in the Referendum or Presidential election but who you gave your no 1 in the local and general elections.
“Politics was a big interest in John’s life. I don’t remember him engaging in discussions of the policies of the various parties but for John, canvassing, constituency changes, performing Personating Officer tasks, tally figures, counts and re-counts, were the essence of real politics. I often wonder Noreen what would John’s reaction have been if Pat Mc Hugh (former Fianna Fail councillor) was immersed in the Fine Gael Party. I know that one of John’s great hopes was to be around for next year’s local elections.
Chapter 2: John the Builder.  “As many of you know, John started work in Vincent Donnellan’s. In fact, John rests in the last coffin made by his former mentor Vincent.
He graduated to work with Pake Walsh and later went on to become a self employed builder.
I’m sure he worked for many of you building garden walls, kerbing, footpaths, farm buildings, silage slabs, slurry tanks, and rafts for houses.
Chapter 3: John the Farmer. “While in the Teck (VS) in Claremorris, John developed a keen interest in gardening... carrots, spuds, onions and cabbages. One evening he cajoled Noreen to give him a hand weeding. At some stage Noreen lifted his jacket and 10 Major fell out of his pocket. Faced with the prospect of his younger sister spilling the beans at home he bribed her by saying he would give her a few puffs of a fag if she didn’t tell. She didn’t tell!
“I think that it fair to say that the proudest day in his farming life was when he extended the farm by purchasing a parcel of land in Halligan’s. On being congratulated after the auction, John quipped ‘Bidding was the easy thing, paying for it might be a bigger problem’.
“There was never any bother in coaxing John to go to the mart in Balla. With his jeep and trailer he was in strong demand to bring cattle here and there. On one such occasion he boasted of being all day ‘moving cattle up the country’. On being challenged on that, all he did that day was move one stripping cow to Ballindine. He rebuked with: ‘Never take away from a good story’.      
Chapter 4: Socialising. “I know many of you are here today because you enjoyed meeting John out on social occasions. His sharp wit and his anecdotes brought laughter to many a gathering. His ability to remember and =quote from people long passed (especially Pake Lyons) is legendary.
“John was always happy in the company of people decades younger than himself and young people sought him out.
“Through John, his late sister Kathleen’s grandchildren in Manchester have forged new friendships with the next generation of children in Rockfield.
Maybe some of you present here today got the occasional ‘blinding’ from John. Maybe  sometimes he disagreed vehemently with your opinions. Did he ever say to any of you?
‘Sure amn’t I only telling you the ******* truth!’
Chapter 5: The Final Chapter. “Two and a half years ago John was diagnosed with  cancer. Instead of rolling over under this news John met this challenge head on.  His many acquaintances called to him offering messages of support, prayers and Mass bouquets.
“In the hospital, a doctor when coming up with a treatment plan, enquired about his lifestyle. John indicated that he liked to go for a few pints to relax. It was music to John’s ears to hear ‘Don’t change that.’
“John adapted to his new regime of chemo every second Monday without complaint, His attitude was a great help to other patients undergoing similar challenges. He would later boast that on his way he would stop in Balla for a few pints and the odd half one.
“It was during this time that a daily gathering of locals developed in John’s kitchen. It came to be known as Visiting Hours. At 10am Mid West Radio was turned up. Death notices were analysed or in John’s words ‘The Non-Runners of the Day”!
“In the last few weeks, John’s battle intensified and on Monday night last he passed away a week short of his 64th birthday.
“His family would like to thank Drs Diarmuid Murray Snr and Jnr (Knock), the doctors, nurses and Palliative Care team in Castlebar Hospital, and his many friends for their support. I am sure nobody will be upset if Padraic and Maureen Niland, Tommie and Michael Lavelle, Kathleen and Seamus McGrenra are singled out for special mention.
“I know it has been said many times in many places on occasions like this but I feel it has never been more apt than here today (6th Sept. 2018) in Barnacarroll: John McGreal, Ní bheidh do leithéad arís ann.’ Your likes will never pass this way again and you will always be remembered in our hearts.”   
Interment took place in the adjoining cemetery following Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr Peter Gannon, PP, and assisted by Fr Tommy Commins.
John is survived by his sisters Mary Griffin (Barnacarroll) and Noreen McHugh (Ballindine), nephews, nieces, in-laws, relatives, neighbours and friends.