27 May 2022

Late Longford town native John Donlon lived a fulfilling life

John Donlon RIP

Tributes have been paid to Longford town native John Donlon following his passing in recent days

There was much sadness following the death on Tuesday, October 27 of John Donlon, Templemichael Glebe, Ballinalee Road, Longford town, Longford.

A widely respected and much loved character, John’s funeral cortège left Glennon’s Funeral Home on Saturday, October 31 before arriving at St Mel’s Cathedral for Mass of the Resurrection and he was interred afterwards in Ballymacormack cemetery.

John will be greatly missed by his wife of 62 years Gretta, sons Gerard (Tullamore), Eamonn (Isle of Man), Raymond (San Francisco ,U.S.A), Angus (Leeds) and Mark (Virginia, U.S.A), daughters-in-law Trish, Carol, Eileen, Doreen and Amy, the grandchildren he enjoyed so much Amy, Rory, Jennifer, Darragh, Ashling, Stephen, Darren, Ciara, Shona, Rheanna, Maeve, Connor and Ronan, brother-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
May he Rest in Peace.

The following tribute to John was compiled by his sons;

John was born in 1925 in a period of turmoil following the Civil War, at the time the ‘Charleston’ was a popular song by Paul Whiteman.

John had three siblings, Michael, Una & Anthony (all deceased).

John was 14 when the Second World War broke out, and he was 20 when it ended. Ireland was in what was called ‘The Emergency’ during the second World War.

At age 7, John joined the Church Junior Choir.

At the age of 17, he joined Longford Cathedral Choir, and many great Choirmasters & Organists have directed the choir, including Fr Tommy Devine, Rene Segers and Fintan Farrelly, the current Choirmaster.

Many of his close friends were in the choir and have now passed, including Dessie Brennan, John Mahon, Brendan Bartley and Joe Williams.

John served his apprenticeship in The Classic Ladies & Gents Hairdressing Salon for 4 years and the fifth year as an improver.

At the age of 22, he opened his own business at his home in Dublin Street. He remained there until he retired, 47 years later.
John had a large circle of friends, who went dancing 5/6 nights per week, it was the era of the big band.

One of his friends had a car, and they travelled the country to dances. All these young men had taken a pledge of confirmation not to drink alcohol.

Music played a huge part in John's life, most choir members joined St Mel’s Musical Society, in the late 40’s & early 50s.
Most performances were Gilbert & Sullivan and later changed to Modern Opera with shows such as Oklahoma, Bless the Bride, Rose Marie & The Arcadians.

John met his future wife Gretta Gilleran, during the production of The Arcadians, as Gretta was singing in the chorus. They later got married in Shroid Church in 1958. They went on to have five sons.

In 1965 John was appointed a Peace Commissioner and in 1973 he was sworn in as a Commissioner of Oaths, in the Supreme Court.

He played card games, particularly Solo, and his card school group included Tom Redmond, Mick Wall and Bill Kirk, they had monthly games in each other’s homes.

John and his friends, Johnny Clabby, Joe Williams, Brendan Bartley, Johnny Farrell & Phil Cribben formed The Harmony Group.

They sang locally in County Longford at various functions, concerts, in hospitals, and for local charities.

In 2000 Longford Cathedral Choir joined with Carrick-on-Shannon Church Choir, and Mohill Church Choir to form the Millennium Choir.

In 2001 they travelled to New York and performed a concert in St Patrick's Cathedral. The following year they travelled to Rome and sang a Latin mass in the Church of Maria Maggiore, the following day in St Peter’s Square they sang Danny Boy in the presence of Pope Saint John Paul II.

John sang with the Choir at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in 2009, when a disastrous fire destroyed St Mel’s Cathedral. John and all of Longford were devastated at this shocking tragedy.

John had a long and fulfilling life of 95 years, he cycled into his 80’s and he took a daily trip to the bookies. He enjoyed his retirement, he played cards, he loved sport and he particularly enjoyed the company of his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

His Sons.

“Life, if well lived, is long enough”

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