The guard of honour as the funeral of the late Pat O'Sullivan (inset), Lehery, Lanesboro made its way to St Mary’s Church Picture: Declan Gilmore
These are unprecedented times for every one of us as Covid-19 rips through the heart of rural Ireland and for bereaved families their pain is compounded as they can’t give their loved ones a traditional farewell.
It is a most difficult time for arranging funerals but communities are responding with dignity and respect as this powerful image, captured by Longford photographer Declan Gilmore, illustrates.
It was taken at the funeral of the late Pat O’Sullivan, Lehery, Lanesboro last Wednesday, April 8, and it shows neighbours, friends and colleagues, observing social distance regulations, and forming a guard of honour in tribute to the former principal of Legga, Cloontagh and St Mary’s national schools as the hearse made its way to the local church.
Pat, who died peacefully at his residence on Monday, April 6, was a native of Cahirciveen, Co Kerry and he was fiercely proud of his native ‘Kingdom’.
He married local lady Josie O’Brien, Mahoraveen and when his teaching posts brought him to County Longford, he built his family home in Lehery.
Pat taught in Legga NS, Cloontagh NS and he was principal in St Mary’s Boys National School on the Green, Lanesboro until his retirement.
Following his retirement Pat spent a lot of time tending to his garden where he was an avid gardener. He also played a major role in all aspects of the Rathcline GAA club as is the want of a man born and reared in Kerry.
Indeed, a former Chairman of Rathcline club, Pat played a major role in every facet of the club and was a tremendous guidance down through the years.
Being a fiercely proud son of Kerry and Cahirciveen, Pat brought all the Kerry nuance with him when he came to reside in Lanesboro.
Pat was immensely proud of the achievements of his home club St Mary’s Cahirciveen who won the All-Ireland Junior club final in 2011 and the All-Ireland Intermediate club final in 2016. His family are steeped in St Mary's with his brothers, Jackie a former chairman and Jim a former selector.
Pat was a calm and inspiring man as was to be seen by the number of successful students that emerged from the ‘Boy’s School on the Green’ where he was principal until his retirement.
Pat gave the parish and GAA lots as a teacher, mentor, as a club official, a parishioner and member of many other committees and for that local people will always be eternally grateful.
It is a remarkable coincidence that this year, Pat’s son Micheál is the Rathcline club chairman following in his father’s footsteps and his grandson is a key player on the Longford senior county team.
We have no doubt that Pat was incredibly proud of both Micheál and Iarla and no less proud of his other grandchildren Oisín, Ultan, Éabha, Laura, Anna, Bryn, Lucy Anne, Harvey, Josie, Maria, Muireann and Patrick, most of whom are playing major roles in the minor, men’s and ladies clubs.
Pat was a gentleman of mild and kind-hearted nature. He was a wonderful parish man who involved himself in all the good things of the parish.
Pat was the most helpful of men who was always willing to go out of his way to assist anyone in their time of need. He was a great support and confidant. He had the time of the world for everyone, his relaxed and easy manner had everyone in his company at their ease.
In times past, Pat loved nothing more than an evening of card playing in Adie’s with his old friends and they were the real characters.
Pat was a keen dancer and when time allowed from his chores himself and Josie loved to travel. There is no doubt about it that if there is some Irish music being played in heaven Pat will be dancing a Kerry Polka.
A testimony to the esteem Pat was held was to be seen at the guard of honours given to him as his remains made its way to St Mary’s Church. Pat’s absence will leave a great void in the hearts and minds of all that knew him.
Due to the current restrictions on wakes and church services owing to the coronavirus we all missed paying our last respects to her family, but we deeply feel the pain of his family. Following prayers Pat was laid to rest in Clonbonny cemetery.
Sympathy is extended to Mr O’Sullivan’s wife Josie, sons Micheál, Fr Brendan and Diarmuid, daughters Marie and Ciara, sister Maura, brothers Jack and Jim, his daughters-in-law Áine and Helen and sons-in-law Steve and Jonathan, grandchildren Oisín, Iarla, Ultan, Éabha, Laura, Anna, Bryn, Lucy Anne, Harvey, Josie, Maria, Muireann and Patrick, sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, nieces, extended family and friends.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.