James O'Donoghue RIP

November 18th, 2008
by Weeshie Fogarty

Hundreds of mourners thronged St Mary's Cathedral in Killarney to bid farewell to a well known local man whose death has been described as a light going out.

James (Jameso) O'Donoghue, a stalwart of Killarney Legion GAA Club; the Irish Kidney Association, St Fintan's Hospital and The Killarney's Traders' Council died suddenly last Tuesday. A native of Lissivigeen, he lived for most of his life in Knockeenduff, Killarney. He was in his 80's. In his homily at the Requiem Mass, main celebrant Fr Nicholas Flynn said that the life of Jameso was a story in which lines and chapters were filled with his deeds but also with the people whose lives he touched.

"Sudden death is like a light going out. One minute the sun is shining, everything is fine, the next minute it is dark. When the news spread that Jameso had died, people were shocked and amazed. The suddenness of it all caught everyone by surprise, no more so than his family. When someone dies, someone that we love, someone that we know, we begin to reflect on their lives. We remember things, things that are either forgotten about or pushed to the back of our minds," said Fr Flynn, who is the Administrator in the KIllarney parish.

And he made mention of the hundreds of people that queued to express their sympathy to Jameso's relatives and friends at the removal of his remains from O'Shea's funeral Home and again prior to the Requiem Mass. "Everyone that gathered since Jameso died is a part of Jameso's story. Some might have met him just once or twice, and arejust one or two lines-others are like whole chapters," Fr Flynn said. He also paid tribute to Jameso's wife and family, who, he said played the biggest part in his life.

"Of course his brothers and sisters played a huge part, and his wife Lily, children, grandchildren, in-laws, his neighbours and friends. Each one has a chapter part of a story, the story of Jameso. "We must not forget that when Jameso was out being chairman, someone had to keep the home fires burning, so we must also ongratulate Lily and the work she had to do in rearing nine children," Fr Flynn said.

Recalling Jameso's sporting life, the Killarney parish administrator mentioned all the clubs he was involved in, both as a player and as an administrator. "I suppose you could say sport was one of Jameso's great loves, especiallygaelic football. In 1959, he won his first Connolly Cup medal with St Fintan's Hospital. In 1949, he played in East Kerry, with Headford when they woin the league, pre-dating the O'Donoghue Cup. In 1949, he also won a county championship medal against John Mitchels of Tralee. "But it is not so as aplayer he will be remembered, but for his volunteerism. It's a new world now, getting involved in organisations, gettng involved in community, getting involved in other people's lives, but that's what jameso will be mostly remembered for."

Fr Flynn noted, that as an administrator, James O'Donoghue, the first chairman of St Fintan's Football Club and in 1958, he was chairman of the East Kerry Board for five years. 'In 1976, he was chairman of the Killarney Legion GAA Club and he held that position for a further five years. In 1983/84 he was chairman of the Killarney Legion/ Dr Crokes team that won the county championship and in 1985/86 he was joint-chairman, with John Kelly, of the Killarney Legion/Spa GAA team. He was chairman of the Killarney Traders Council for 12 years and he was a long-seving chairan of the New Cemetery Graveyard Committee until very recently. He was alos chairman of the Kerry branch of the Irish Kidney Association.

"Being chairman obviously held no fears for Jameso. But in ach one of those positions, he touched other people," Fr Fynn remarked. When he was chairman of the Irish Kidney Association, Jameso collected thousands of euro's to help provide a much needed dialysis unit at Kerry General Hospital and that dream was realised in 1995.

"Not only was he part of football clubs, he was part of the town and took part in the famous orchestra, playing the drums. He was also involved in the rowing club. You would wonder how he found time?" Fr Flynn observed. Jameso enjoyed a long career as a psychiatric nurse in Killarney, where he played a major role in creating better working conditions for staff and better facilities for patients. He was alos very actively involved in the trade unon movement and that led him to become a very active member of he Labour party and, later, the South Kerry Independant Alliance.

"When involved in the Killarney Traders Council in the 1960' and 70's, he was at a conference in Tullamore. While he was there, he went to mass on Sunday and they announced that there was going to be a cemetery mas on Monday evenin. "So he came back and tormented the clergy in Killarney at the time until he got a cemetery Mass. That, of course, has very well become an annual event, an important event, especially in The New Cemetery graveyard where he will be buried," Fr Flynn said.

And on a poignant note, he recalled how lat year's Mass in the New Cemetery was a tragic one for Jameso, as one of his daughters had died shortly before hand. fr Flynn said that both of his late daughters, Mary and Theresa, would be waiting to greet him in heaven. Meanwhile, Jameso's former Legion GAA club colleague and friend, Sean Counihan, has paid tribute to the popular Killarney man.

"I have very fond memories of Jameso and he gave me great encouragement when I took my first senior training assignment. For that, I will always be grateful." "An outstanding gael, James served the GAA, first as a player, then as a referee and also as a Kerry County Board delegate. He was also willing to pull up the sleeves and he was not afraid of the shovel when his beloved Legion started to put in place their pitch at Direen," he said.

"All of his sons wore the green and white, and James was immensely proud of this fact. He also watched his son, Diarmuid- wear the greenand gold of Kerry, and he was equally excited to see Diarmuid's son, James, make the Kerry minors this year," he added.

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