It was the end of an era recently with the death of Jimmy Farrell, who for a number of decades had been the man to talk with about the emerging telephone network in the county.
Today it is all broadband and fibre optic cable but when communications across rural Ireland was still in its infancy, Jimmy Farrell was a pioneering influence and he did the county and Ireland generally a wonderful service.
He was born in his beloved Graffogue in beautiful Ardagh in November 1920 and one of six children he attended the local Loughill national school and later the Vocational school on Longford’s Battery Rd.
As a young man who was obsessed with how things worked and much like a youngster today will marvel at the weird and wonderful world of coding and programming, he was obsessed with how anything mechanical or electrical worked and trying to replicate them. There was an inevitability that he would join the fledging Post & Telegraphs (P&T) service and he did so in 1939 as Europe went to war and his first posting was Lifford in Co Donegal.
A few years later he managed to get a little closer to home with a posting to Mullingar and it proved a crucial move as it was there that he met the love of his life, Fermanagh woman, Lucy McKiernan, and the couple were married in February 1943.
Shortly after they were married the couple moved and set up home on Longford town’s Dublin St. There Lucy opened a confectionary store with the wonderful name, The Magnet, and it was located at No 45, which is now the popular Coffee House 45.
Jimmy quickly became involved in many aspects of community life on his arrival in Longford town. He was one of the early promoters and advocates for the Credit Union movement and was one of the founding members of the Longford branch. He rightly believed that it would be a wonderfully empowering force for the community. He also loved greyhound racing and was very involved with the local track.
The many who worked with Jimmy down through the years will remember him as meticulous to a fault and he always stressed ‘that if a job was worth doing it was worth doing right’. It was no surprise so that he rose rapidly through the ranks in the P&T and he was later promoted to engineer in Carrick on Shannon and then the post of inspector in Mullingar in 1965.
In the early 1970s there was a further promotion when he was appointed to the post of Engineering Superintendent in Longford and that also saw him develop a HQ on the Ballinalee Rd and what we now refer to as the ‘eircom yard.’
In the 1970s the couple purchased No 2 on the Ballinalee Rd, Longford town and Lucy opened her successful Lios Mhuire B&B business which she continued to run until her death in 1985. There is no doubt that part of Jimmy was lost with her passing but he found some solace and new challenges when he returned to his beloved Ardagh in 1986 and there he happily farmed until his peaceful death this February.
Family was a huge part of Jimmy’s life and together with his beloved wife, Lucy, they raised two daughters, Nuala O'Kane and Ann O'Donnell, both of whom now live in College Park, Longford. They delighted also in the company of their six grandchildren: Damien O'Kane, Bedford, UK; Eamon O'Kane, Ardagh; Fiona McManus (nee O'Donnell), Aughavas, Co Leitrim; Hugh O'Kane, College Park, Longford; Sinead Ryan (nee O’Donnell), Cappawhite, Co Tipperary) and Colm O'Donnell, Sandyford, Dublin.
He was a man who set very high standards and always inspired family to be the very best that they could. He had a wonderfully enquiring mind and devoured whatever books he came across. He had a massive wealth of knowledge that spanned the most diverse of subjects. Latter years saw the arrival of seven wonderful great-grandchildren and all came to know a wonderful, man, who was able to offer them a unique view of the past.
For as long as the Leader can remember the late Jimmy Farrell was synonymous with the Farrell Clan, alongside our former colleague, Harry Farrell (RIP) and a handful of other stalwarts. Sadly Jimmy now joins many of them in the Annaly county up above. He was deeply proud of the family’s long association with the Annaly dynasty and it was wonderful to see such a large and proud guard of honour from the Farrell Clan members at his Funeral Mass in Ardagh. The family link with the Clan will happily continue as his daughter Nuala is the current Clan secretary.
James (Jimmy) Farrell of Cross, Ardagh, passed away peacefully in his 97th year and was predeceased by his wife, Lucy. His passing is sadly mourned by his loving daughters, Nuala O'Kane and Ann O'Donnell; his sister, Kathleen Kelly (Ballymakeegan, Longford town); his grandsons Damien, Eamon, Hugh and Colm, granddaughters Fiona and Sinead; great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, relatives and friends. His remains reposed at his home in Cross before being removed to St Brigid's Church, Ardagh, for Funeral Mass and Burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.