Dooleague, Islandeady, Castlebar
Tommie O’Brien passed away peacefully in the comfort of his beloved home on August 25, 2020, surrounded by his adoring and heartbroken family. Tommie had fought a long illness with dignity, resilience, courage, and strength of character. He was born January 23, 1940, to John Joe and Bridget (Beesie) O’Brien in Dooleague, Islandeady, Castlebar. Tommie was the second of four children with siblings; Joe (deceased), Frank (Galway) and Pauline (deceased). Tommie attended St Paul’s National School, Islandeady and the Vocational Secondary School in Westport, before working in Marty Grady’s Furniture Shop (Westport), followed by Irish TV Rentals (Castlebar) and finally Thorn EMI (Galway). Tommie married his soulmate and best friend Nora Haugh on September 26 in 1966 and they enjoyed 54 years of a long and happy marriage. Nora cared for Tommie for the years of his illness with endless dedication and devotion.
Tommie and Nora together raised a family of six; John, Alan, Sinéad, Barry, Niamh and Siobhán. Tommie was a kind and gentle father and his children adored him. He may have been a man of few words but he had infinite integrity, wisdom and wit. For a quiet man he was the greatest of teachers to his family. Tommie was the proud grandfather to 16 grandchildren and he loved to spoil them! There was always a few sweets in the press, ice-creams in the freezer and a few bob in his pocket for his grandkids. When he could, he loved to kick a ball in the garden or feed the birds with them. Tommie was fiercely proud of his children and grandchildren and all their collective achievements. Tommie faced illness with courage, grit and determination. He never complained even when it was obvious life was very tough for him, he continued to teach those around him with his approach to life and his resilience. Even at the very end of his life he fought hard to allow his family time to come to peace with his passing. It was a privilege for Tommie’s family to have helped Nora care for him over the years, especially in the last months and weeks of his life. Over the years Tommie enjoyed nothing more than having his family and friends together for a celebration with some banter and fun. His 80th birthday celebration held in January will be a special
memory for all Tommie’s family as he thoroughly enjoyed his special day. Tommie’s second family were the Islandeady/Mayo GAA. Through the years Tommie served Islandeady GAA with pride and loyalty as a player, officer and manager. A knowledgeable man in many areas his passion was football and he knew everything about the game. Not alone could he tell you about Islandeady players but he knew every player on every team in the county. It is with no doubt that Tommie has now joined his friends who went before him and they will analyse every game from the formation of the GAA. One of Tommie’s last outings three weeks before his passing was a trip to this Islandeady football pitch with his daughters. He proudly walked a few steps on the grounds and was commenting on the grass, the lights, the stand and spoke of his great memories at the pitch. His passion for football, even at this stage of his illness was still so evident. Tommie will be missed in and around the grounds of Islandeady pitch and his soft voice and gentle ways will not be replaced. Islandeady GAA Club paid a great honour to Tommie by giving him one last journey before his burial to the grounds of the pitch under a large guard of honour. Tommie’s family were extremely touched by this kind gesture bestowed on him by his GAA family.
Tommie will be forever missed by his devoted and heartbroken wife Nora, his children John, Alan, Sinéad, Barry, Niamh and Siobhán, his brother Frank (Galway), his grandchildren; Aoife, Saoirse, Róisín, Aoibheann, Oisín, Patrick, Michaela, Paul, Ava, Hannah, Thomas, Emmet, Rhys, Luke, Amelie and Lucy, his sons-in-law Mick, Eric and Martin, his daughters-in-law Rosemarie, Aedin and Margaret, nieces, nephews, extended family and his many friends especially those in the GAA.
The following poem was written for Tommie by his son in law Martin Coyne and was read at the end of his funeral Mass:
Today, we watched you pass away
We watched, as your steadfast grip
slipped off this mortal plain.
Don’t be afraid, you are free,
You are free from the shell that was,
In these last years but a cell,
Trapping you within.
Now your soul can soar
to the heavens above,
And you can look down on
all of your accomplishments.
All the little eyes and little
smiles that form your legacy of love.
In them you will live on,
In body, in spirit,
You in our memory,
Dear sweet Tommie.
May his kind and gentle soul rest in peace.