‘A courageous young man with a smile on his face’

A tribute to a friend

by Elliot Grealy

I first met Archie Naughton at the age of four and three-quarters when starting Junior Infants in Roxboro NS. Due to the pair of us being born close to Christmas, the month of December was action-packed, busy with opening presents and just having fun.

Archie’s birthday parties always stood out from the rest. This was due to his mother Paula having a direct line to Santa Claus, meaning there would always be extra joy when he’d make an appearance! Paula explained that this only happened to very special children like us!

Along with his love for music and farming, Archie was very fond of his sport. He could talk for hours about it. He was a big Chelsea supporter and discussed every moment of action on the Monday morning when he’d arrive into school!

He also had a great interest in rugby. He played for his local club, Creggs, and together we would often analyse the performances of Connacht and Ireland – as if we were pundits on TV!

Archie took up his position in goals every lunchtime and even though he had great fun commanding his net, he wasn’t afraid to give out orders to his teammates to try and win the match. Archie fought incredibly hard to stay on his own two feet. When he got his wheelchair, I have memories of us laughing and being out of breath pushing him up the hill to the top of the pitch, where he would get out and continue his role in goals. Archie often fell down but he always got himself up again, such was his fighting spirit.

Although he was challenged every day, Archie was never one to complain, the only exception being when his defenders weren’t doing their job. Also, just like the rest of us, he wasn’t too fond of the rain! But in secondary school Archie would brave the rain and make his daily pilgrimage with the rest of us to Londis or McNeill’s for a nice roll at lunchtime.

While we all fought back tears at his funeral mass on Monday morning, and Fr. Sean Neylon spoke about the footprint Archie had left behind, I couldn’t help but smile and think perhaps the tyre marks were more appropriate as Archie was famous for his wheelies and burnouts!

Archie would not want me to say all this without mentioning his wonderful parents, Paula and Padraic. While behind the scenes they worked so incredibly hard to help Archie, George and Isaac and campaign for all those affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, they were always full of fun, laughter and untold kindness. I even once said to my parents that if anything happened to them I’d like to live with Paula and Padraig!

Like us all, Archie had dreams and plans. He never dwelt on his illness and to us he was just one of the lads. There is no greater memory than the sound of a friend’s laugh. That’s how I will remember Archie, with a smile on his face, that and his great sense of humour. He was a courageous young man who taught me to live for today.

Archie always seemed to appreciate the little things and was always grateful for all he had in his life, just as I am so grateful to have had the pleasure of knowing him. May he rest in peace.