‘Blue moon over all our worlds’ after passing of a special man

Our columnist Frank Brandon pays tribute to his late brother, Peadar. Elsewhere in his column this week, Frank reflects on some of last weekend’s sporting highlights, from the Munster hurling final to sensational European Championship success for Irish athletes…

Last Saturday week, shortly after 8 am, I got a phone call from my brother Kieran, to tell me that our eldest brother, Peadar, had passed away.

Now for the previous few days or so, we had been expecting the worst; the medical prognosis wasn’t good. But up until then, while having treatment for a form of cancer, Peadar was in good form – so much so that he had just bought himself a new car and had his turf cut… definitely not the actions of a man who thought his time on earth was up.

On the Sunday evening we had a family get-together out in his house in Clonberne, where we reminisced on many aspects of his life, and got to say our goodbyes in private. On the Monday afternoon, he reposed in the community centre, where people could come to sympathise with the family and say their own goodbyes. At 5.20, after prayers, the public started to file past, and for more than three hours several hundreds of them paid their respects and conveyed their sympathies to Peadar’s children – Liam, Raymond, Gareth, and Edel – and to all other members of his family, including his remaining four brothers.

The huge numbers really brought home to us all the enormous love, respect, and goodwill so many people had for Peadar, reflecting so many different aspects of his life. There were representatives there from several bridge clubs; he was an avid bridge player, and himself and his (very) long-time friend and bridge partner Bert Curley were known and hugely respected throughout the entire card-playing community. Loads of rugby clubs came to pay their respects, as well, of course, as Mountbellew Golf Club, of which he was a member nearly all his life. And all the school children from Clonberne lined the roads each day in a very impressive Guard of Honour. Creggs GAA and rugby clubs were heavily represented, as well as Clonberne GAA Club, and if I have missed anyone out, I apologise sincerely as it was impossible to take note of everyone.

As it happened, after about two hours of shaking hands and meeting people, I began to feel a bit unwell, and by all accounts turned as white as a sheet and almost fainted. So many people came to my aid that I cannot thank them all individually, but special thanks to paramedics Tony Finnegan and Darren Kearney and nurse Stella Grogan, who went out of their way to attend to me. Thanks as well to my nephews Colm and James, who got me loads of crunchie bars and cans of Cidona to get my sugar levels up (both must have been so traumatised that James is now in Peru, while Colm is in London! Only joking – James is on holidays and Colm is working), and also to everyone who got water for me to drink and a chair to sit on. Jimmy Gannon, his wife Carmel (from Creggs), and their daughter Tracey, also helped me greatly.

In the heel of the hunt, after (in my opinion) recovering quickly, I found myself being landed down to Castlebar Hospital by my daughter, Tara. I spent the night there, where after extensive tests, I got the all-clear the next morning. Well, more or less all-clear… to go with my other extensive lists of ailments, they need to have another look at my gallbladder. It was my first time to be in Castlebar, and once again I couldn’t speak highly enough of hospital staff – the care I got was top class.

And so it was back to Clonberne for the funeral Mass on Tuesday, where Peadar’s son, Raymond paid tribute to his father by delivered as fine a eulogy as I have ever heard, and where the local church choir provided some lovely singing. A song that I have liked for a few years now, ‘There’s a Blue Moon over my World Without You’ was beautifully sung by Mrs Rabbitte, and I just thought how appropriate it was as there will be a lot of blue moons over a lot of worlds without Peadar.

Fr Tommy Gibbons, Fr Michael O’Brien, and Fr Paddy Mooney presided over the lovely funeral Mass, after which we headed for the wonderfully laid out graveyard, where we laid Peadar to rest beside the love of his life, Teresa.

When all that was done, a big number of us headed back to The Country Inn, where the fantastically talented Maloney brothers – Aidan and Declan – and their staff at Delicious Catering treated us to a really top class meal. Afterwards, we chatted and reminisced about Peadar and his late wife Teresa, and in keeping with Irish tradition we had a few quiet pints, a few recitations, and a few songs, all before home time arrived around seven o’clock… for me at least. I imagine it may have been a bit later for some others. As so many people have said to me since, “Peadar got a great send-off”.

Many times over the last eighteen years or so I have written tributes to parishioners and friends who have passed on, but I have to admit it’s so much harder to do it about my brother. However, over the last week, I have learned so much about Peadar that even I didn’t know! In his younger days he was a champion shot-putter, a county hurler and footballer with Roscommon, a brilliant out-half for Creggs Rugby Club, and a great club footballer, also for Creggs. He was always a good golfer, and no matter how ‘Duff’ and I tried – irrespective of how many shots he gave us – we could never beat him. And of course as a bridge player he was up there with the best.

However, it seems to have been as a community man and as a principal/school teacher that he left his biggest mark. As a community man, he helped out in lots of ways, including being a bingo caller on Monday nights. And judging by the many tributes paid to him by his former pupils, as a principal/school teacher he played a huge part in developing the lives and interests of so many people. It is obvious that his weekly quizzes, as well as his interest in sports, were greatly appreciated by everyone he taught, and obviously he was never averse to spending extra time after school helping pupils in whatever way he could. Peadar started out in his teaching career in Meelick school near Loughglynn way back in the 1960s, and it is a tribute to him as a teacher that the family received messages of sympathy from former pupils in Meelick, as they also did from former pupils of Leitra and Lehrin.

He was also a great family man. There is no doubt that as a husband, father, grandfather, and brother, he was among the very best. But if ever a man wanted no public accolades or kudos for anything he achieved, that man was Peadar. Modesty and humility were part and parcel of his make-up, and for him, it was always about other people – never about himself.

A friend of his said to me over the last few days that if he could ever have been someone else, he would like to have been Peadar, “because he was such a kind man, who always saw the good in everyone and everything”.

As we bid farewell to Peadar, I want to extend my sincerest sympathies to his children and grandchildren – there really is a blue moon over all our worlds without him.

May he rest in peace.


Success stories from the sporting week

It’s Sunday evening now as I write, and the dust is settling on yet another Munster hurling final victory for the all-conquering Limerick hurlers, and there is little doubt that they are the hottest of favourites to win what would be a fifth All-Ireland in a row.

However for me, with regards to sporting matters, the highlight of this week (for many, a long week) has to be the re-emergence of our athletes as a force on the world stage. The performance of our mixed 4 x 400 metres relay team, winning gold at the European Championships in Rome, was absolutely fantastic. Chris O’Donnell, Thomas Barr, Rhasidat Adeleke and Sharlene Mawdsley won the gold medal with a championship record time of 3.09.92, and in so doing, followed Sonia O’Sullivan as the only Irish athletes to have (by then) won European Gold medals. Sonia won hers in 1995, so it’s taken 29 years to emulate her achievement!

As I write, I have just watched the semi-finals of the women’s 400-metres semi-final, and two of our gold medal-winning relay team – Rhasidat Adeleke and Sharlene Mawdsley – have qualified for the final, which, for a little country like Ireland, is an almost unbelievable achievement. It’s been a long time since the likes of Sonia O’Sullivan, Catherina McKiernan, John Treacy, and Eamonn Coghlan were flying the flag on the world stage, and hopefully now the likes of those two ladies will keep producing at the highest level and inspire future generations of Irish athletes to perform on the international stage.

By the time you read this we will know how the ladies got on in their final – here’s hoping for another medal at least!

*Editor’s note: Ireland’s great European Championship ‘run’ continued since Frank last put pen to paper, with multiple medal wins as the week went on.

And finally…

This last week history was made, as for the very first time since the Roscommon People was first published almost 18 years ago, I had no column in the paper. I am well aware that no one else will have noticed, so I decided I’d better tell ye!

Anyway, the good news is I’m back – and I hope you didn’t miss me too much!