Large crowds from right across the county descended on St Colmcille’s Church in Aughnacliffe last week to bid a fond farewell to one of “life’s gentleman”- former publican and Colmcille native, Philip Hourican.
The much loved and well respected businessman passed away at Our Lady’s Manor, Edgeworthstown last Monday week (July 16) following a brief, but determined, battle with illness.
At his removal and funeral in the days that followed, mourners were told of the genial publican’s penchant for travelling and liking for current affairs.
Those recollections were just some of the memories which were acknowledged this week by those who knew him best.
“Philip was very well versed when it came to current affairs,” reflected local businessman Gearoid Mulligan. “He could talk to you about most things.”
Mr Mulligan recalled his long-time friend and business acquaintance who ran the landmark pub in the village, known locally as simply Philip’s. .
“He would often come up to the shop and get his petrol and we would meet and have a chat. He was a very gentle man and just good company to be around,” he added.
From a well known family with many years in the licenced pub trade, it was the untimely death of his father, Patrick in March 1941 followed by his only brother Michael just months later which ultimately forced Philip into assuming the family business mantle alongside his mother.
Her passing soon after left Philip to keep the business afloat, a task which the young north Longford man almost effortlessly embraced.
“He managed the place so well,” recalled neighbour Benny Reid this week. “The pub really became a focal point for the entire parish of Colmcille.”
His welcoming persona and humble exterior also played a huge part in Philip’s rise through the upper echelons of the north Longford community’s local Fianna Fail branch.
As President of the Aughnacliffe cumann, it was perhaps with little surprise that the pub quickly became the centre of Fianna Fail activity locally.
“It became the hub of Fianna Fail in the area,” continued Mr Reid. “Meetings were held there year in and year out. In fact it was the first place Albert Reynolds visited when he called to north Longford after he became Taoiseach in 1992.”
Politics aside, the deeply admired publican was keen to maintain an open door approach, a conviction which endeared him to many, not least to those undergoing even greater financial pain.
“The amount of good and help he gave to people is quite unknown. He helped out so many neighbours, customers and friends in what were very poor times. It just showed how exceptionally charitable he was,” Mr Reid proudly stated.
His decision to bow out and retire from the pub trade around 10 years ago marked the end of a long and distinuished chapter. Despite this, Philip continued to live locally, moving to his new home a Aughacordrinan on the outskirts of his beloved Aughnacliffe.
With more time on his hands, he opted to see more of the world by travelling overseas on numerous occasions. All the while however, his likeness for current affairs, politics and computers grew ever larger.
“It was one thing that seemed to stick with him,” said Mr Reid. “Even when he had the pub, he could spend hours night after night on the computer.”
That said, for Mr Reid and for many others like him, the legacy left by the late Philip Hourican looks sure to live on.
“We so often talk about nature’s gentlemen, but Philip was just that,” he added. “He was an exceptionally fine man.”
The late Philip Hourican was laid to rest following Funeral Mass at St Colmcille’s Church, Aughnacliffe last Wednesday (July 17) with burial to the adjoining cemetery. He is survived by extended family members, a large collection of neighbours and friends. May he rest in peace.