Legendary war veteran laid to rest

Friends and comrades of the late Mickey Reilly provide a Guard of Honour. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
Longford came to a standstill on Sunday, June 8 as the funeral of well known World War II veteran Michael ‘Mickey’ Reilly of 14 Congress Terrace took place in Saint Mel’s Cathedral Centre.

Longford came to a standstill on Sunday, June 8 as the funeral of well known World War II veteran Michael ‘Mickey’ Reilly of 14 Congress Terrace took place in Saint Mel’s Cathedral Centre.

Mickey passed away on June 5 at the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar and was laid to rest on Sunday in Ballymacormack cemetery.

In a graveside oration, Hugh Farrell, of ONE (Organisation of National Ex- Servicemen and Women) described Mickey as a proud Longford man who loved his family and lived a full life.

“No words I could say would do justice to this man who was over ninety years old and lived each day to the full.

“People that met Mickey came away richer for the experience, he made a huge difference to the lives of so many.”

Born in 1924, the same year as Longford Town Football Club, Mickey was always involved with the club. At the time of his death he was vice president.

According to Hugh, “Mickey and the club grew up together and became two parts of the one body.”

“When the town won the FAI cup in 2003 and 2004 Mickey was the security official tasked with keeping the trophy safe as it toured the county,” he reminisced.

“It was in safe hands although a few drinks to celebrate the great achievement was in order and the cup was often filled, and emptied.”

Growing up in a family of World War I veterans, it was inevitable that he would become a soldier.

His father John served with the Leinster Regiment in the war and Michael Reilly, his uncle, served with the Connaught Rangers. Michael became famous as the soldier that survived with a bullet in the heart after being shot in battle. He did not have the bullet removed for ten years.

Another uncle, Thomas Leavy, was the first non-French National to receive the Croix de Guerre for bravery and he also won the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Hugh described Mickey’s lengthy career.

“At seventeen years old he headed to Northern Ireland to enlist. He was sent to England where he joined the 10th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters.

“He sailed to North Africa on October 15th 1942 and fought in various battles throughout Europe as part of some of the only allied troups at that time.

“During the battle of Monte Cassino he got separated from his company and was listed as missing presumed dead and was prayed for in Longford. When the battle and confusion finished he rejoined his unit.

“When the war was over Mickey returned to Longford and married the love of his life RoseAnn and together they raised their family,” Hugh explained.

Deepest sympathy is extended to his wife RoseAnn, family Kathleen (McNally), Bridie (Murray), Jim, Michael, Maisie (McDonnell), Chris, Martina and Christina (Wykes), sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandnieces, grandnephews, cousins, relatives and friends.