Mon, Mar
22 New Articles

Remembering Kilmeena’s ‘Zulu’


FAMILY TIES The late John ‘Zulu’ Moore from Kilmeena is pictured with his daughter, Patricia, at the 2008 All-Ireland Minor Football Final replay in Pearse Park, Longford. Pic: Michael Donnelly

The Kilmeena native was known far and wide as a husband, father, footballer, farmer and friend

Michael Gallagher

THEY were burying a Pope in Rome last Thursday morning.
At the same time on the edge of the ocean in Kilmeena they were gathering to say farewell to a man of the land, a warrior, a gentleman, a legendary figure – a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and the finest friend.
In Rome the religious royalty were swathed in sacred silks; in Kilmeena, the real people wore the colours which John ‘Zulu’ Moore lived, loved and died by. The green and gold of Dr Crokes of Harrow, the black and white of Kilmeena, and the green and red of Mayo.
Throw in the men and women lined up in the white coats of John’s beloved ‘Limousin Association’ and one begins to gain a slight understanding of the man being celebrated at St Brendan’s Church in Myna while the cardinals were praying in St Peter’s Basilica.
In Kilmeena, it wasn’t long past 11am when John’s funeral cortege left his home in Buckfield and made the short meandering journey towards Myna and the throngs waiting there.
In the car-park, locals quietly spoke about ‘the hardiest man in the parish’ as they watched the hearse roll smoothly up to the church door.
Inside the walls of the historic prayer-house, the huge attendance waited silently for their chance to pay respects to a grieving family and celebrate the life of a special man.
John’s beloved, treasured wife and daughter, Noreen and Patricia, accompanied him up the middle aisle, their hands welded to the coffin the way they used to find room in his big, brawny fists.
All around them, tears tumbled forth and mighty men sobbed openly.
‘Zulu’ had that effect. He always brought emotions to the fore.
When he was building stone, breeding cattle, laughing, wearing the number six for Crokes or Kilmeena, telling stories or doing devilment he always made an impression.
“We were driving through London one Sunday evening in 1988 when I looked in the mirror and saw ‘Zulu’ hanging out the sunroof of a Capri with the cup in his big hands after we won the county final,” his old Crokes team-mate, Bernie McManamon, told the congregation.
Bernie took the crowd through a mad mystery tour of 1980s London when the world was young and ‘Zulu’ lived on Pillar Road in a house known as ‘The Kilmeena Beehive.’ “Every man from Kilmeena that ever went to London seemed to go through that house,” he explained.
The former midfielder detailed what a passionate, loyal, talented man John Moore was. He told stories about the fun they had; the devilment they got up to and the games they won and lost. He spoke about how ‘Zulu’ lit up every room he went into and how he was a loyal, forever friend.
McManamon had green and red ribbons tied to his left arm; green, white and gold ribbons tied to his right arm and the greatest of stories to tell.
The colours told their own story. ‘Zulu’ was a Mayo man to the core of his being, but spent much of his youth in London playing football with the finest of men. He longed for the day Mayo would win Sam Maguire, but being married to a woman from the legendary Kerry village of Templenoe meant he regularly experienced All-Ireland glory at close quarters.
On Thursday, as John’s Mass progressed, we heard of his love for showing livestock and the people he encountered along the way.
Donal McKeown from the Limousin Association probably had the best quote of the day to describe the type of man Zulu was. “Imagine how bamboozled St Peter was this week when he saw Pelé, Pope Benedict and Zulu arriving on the one bus,” he said.
That quote summed up John Moore perfectly.
He was a man of Kilmeena, Mayo, Ireland and the world.
He was comfortable walking the fields of Buckfield or Hertfordshire; building stone, kicking ball, being a loving husband and a doting dad. He could inspire all round him with a hearty laugh and send them on their way with a shake of his huge hands.
‘Zulu’ was the most ordinary character and that’s what made him an extraordinary man. The stunned expressions, deep breaths and even deeper swallows at his funeral said it all.
After Mass he was carried to his resting place on the shoulders of family, cattle men and football friends. As they passed the local school, the black and white flag of Kilmeena flew at half mast in honour of a truly fine man.
In Rome they bid farewell to a Pope. In Kilmeena they said goodbye to a legend. There were 16 Benedicts there was only one ‘Zulu’.


Latest Sport

Westport win Connacht Junior Cup

RUGBY There was a dramatic finish to Sunday’s Connacht Junior Cup Final as the Bulls stunned Creggs.

Read more ...

Mayo draw up battle-plans

FOOTBALL Qualification for the National League Final means that Mayo will have three games to plan for over the next three weeks.

Read more ...

3 players who caught our eye

FOOTBALL Mike Finnerty picks out three players who made an impression for Mayo in Donegal last Sunday.

Read more ...

Mayo’s upward curve continues

FOOTBALL Billy Joe Padden assesses the merits of Mayo’s performance last weekend and talks about the importance of leadership in this group.

Read more ...

A mother’s day to remember

FOOTBALL Our resident Mayo fan Anne Marie Flynn was in Ballybofey last Sunday and enjoyed the trip — as well as the result.

Read more ...