They say life is full of characters and for the many who knew him, Joe Devine was just that.
A gentleman in every sense of the word, the mild mannered 84-year-old passed away at his home recently in Lismacaffrey, Co Westmeath surrounded by his loving wife, Annie and close family.
Indeed, it was there, in the rustic surroundings of the quiet midlands village that Joe spent the vast bulk of his personal as well as professional life.
As proprietor of Devine’s, Joe steadily grew the business from your ordinary, run of the mill pub to a sort of one stop shop selling everything from wallpaper to coal and even paraffin oil.
All the while his devout wife Annie was there, as she always was by her devout husband’s side.
In a poignant twist, the easy-going couple appeared in the Leader as part of their joint 50th wedding and business anniversary celebrations.
Speaking at the end of August, Joe reflected on those heady days back in 1962 when bartering was an altogether different affair.
“In the first instance prices were so different,” he said. “Sure when I opened here, pints were one and thrupence (around 20c). Young people wouldn’t have a clue about that and whiskey was two and four pence.”
With Joe behind the counter and Annie having to juggle her work in the business with that of her other duties as a qualified nurse, inevitably matters came to a decisive head.
As it turned out, it was a decision that didn’t take long to toil over.
“I had to give it up (nursing),” she said as Joe quitely looked on beside her. “And then the children started coming.”
In total, Joe and Annie raised six children, four girls (Cynthia, Mary, Irene and Anne) and two boys (Brendan and Jody).
Looking back, the affable pair offered few regrets as they proudly recalled their 50 years together, both in business and as man and wife.
“There was only a year between them (children). I don’t know how I did it,” Annie continued with a wry grin.
But it was their successes in commercial life that prompted Joe, in the 1970s, to open a second business in nearby Boherquill.
That move, although prudent at the time, didn’t ultimately materialise as perhaps one might have expected.
Undeterred, Joe and Annie opted to throw all their weight behind the bar and the place they called home for over half a century.
That detemination and stelly resolve together with Joe and Annie’s flexible approach to business helped deal with the raging effects of recession and emigration during the bleak 1980s.
Asked by this newspaper at the time of his recent anniversary celebrations, Joe was left in little dout as to what aided those successes.
“I was always honest with my suppliers,” he explained. “I never owed my wholesalers money.” His recollection of familar faces and noted customers both past and present was just as insightful.
“Ah there were many,” he grinned. “There was one man I will mention, Paddy Pepper. Now he was a character. Ah sure, he could sing, he could burst into song at any time and had a lovely voice.”
A character Paddy may have been. Now, the peaceful village of Lismacaffrey and surrouding parishes are mourning the loss of another and a true gentleman who will never be forgotten.
The late Joe Devine’s Funeral Mass took place on Wednesday October 31. In keeping with the lofty regard in which he was held, no less that 12 priests concelbrated his Mass at a packed St Mary’s Church, Boherquill.
They included Joe’s brother (PP Mountnugent) and nephew (PP Baliva, Co Meath), both of whom ironically carry the same name, Fr Oliver Devine. Two others to officiate included local priest Msngr Patrick Earley and Fr Joe McGrath.
The late Joe Devine is survived by his wife Annie, six children-Cynthia, Brendan, Mary, Irene, Jody and Anne, sisters Kathleen, Annie and Theresa, brothers Pat and Fr Oliver, daughters-in-law Eilish and Joan, sons-in-law Kevin, Barney and Frank, his sixteen treasured grandchildren, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, relatives as well as an inestimable number of good friends and neighbours.