Remembering lost friends


Jamie Cassidy was in contact from Elphin to impart the sad news of Gerry Nolan’s recent death. Jamie penned this eloquent tribute to Mr Nolan.

Gerry had such a presence

Gerry departed this life recently and his absence from our community and far beyond is hard to accept among his numerous friends and extended family over a wide area. He had such a presence of great magnitude in his native Elphin town. You mostly heard his melodious voice before you encountered him. This was his native trait, beloved by one and all.

  There was a much more poignant and direct sound from his tractor as it traversed a daily trip up town to Glancy’s for nuts and meal for his treasured stock. His tractor had a musical note all of its own, perhaps a B flat. I don’t think it exists on the musical scale, and probably never needed tuning anyway. Needless to say, it was attuned to all residents within earshot in town to the response: “There goes Gerry!”

  The familiar sound is gone now and the vacuum left is a vast void to so many ears. Oh, how we all miss it, young, old and in between. Gerry had the great gift of conversing with all age groups on this island on any subject. He had a great capacity for history, local, global and down to the exact details of local happenings, deaths, marriages and births. If an enquiry were needed on family relations and who was related to whom, you went to Gerry.

  His presence in Elphin was always precious whether he was attending parties of all sorts or just relaxing in his favourite watering hole ‘Timmie’s’, where he had a special corner at the top of the bar and was so well looked after by a very special friend, Maura. Gerry was one of a very special species, an ordinary man of great knowledge and wit with a retentive mind which sprung to the surface in a split second: his recall was phenomenal and always correct.

  Many more paragraphs I could relate but Gerry would prefer brevity. It was my great pleasure to be his friend and to be part of our great conversations which ensued over the years. We did not meet on a weekly basis but we always took up from where we left off. To sum up Gerry would be a difficult chore indeed, his mould will never be copied.

  So fond farewell from a multitude of extended family and oceans of friends. Oh, how we will miss you!

  Slán and happy journey in peace.

Michael Nolan from Ballygar was also in contact with the sad news that local historian Pat Joe Scanlon from Aughrane had passed away on New Year’s Eve.

In memory of Pat Joe Scanlon

In the early minutes of New Year’s Eve, the angels came for the gentle soul of Pat Joe Scanlon, Aughrane, Ballygar. He was ailing for some months but he crossed the great divide sooner than expected.

  A humble man of many gifts, he will long be remembered for his detailed, interesting knowledge of history and particularly local history. Whether at a fair in the past or at a mart or after Sunday Mass, people gravitated to Pat Joe to listen to his gems of local, historical wisdom and on parting, they eagerly looked forward to their next meeting with him.  

  Born, reared and living his life close to the shadow of ‘The Big House’, his knowledge included but extended beyond the landlord period and detailed happenings of the Cromwellian period, the Penal Laws, the  

War of Independence, the Civil War and later events. He helped aspiring writers, contributed to local publications and enjoyed assisting young students with their projects on local history.

  His farm adjoins Aughrane forest and Pat Joe had a great feel and understanding of the flora and fauna and their habits. Their titles and traits were second nature to him and many people came to him to learn about their characteristics and nurturing environment.

  A farmer all his life, he settled on dry stock in recent years. Pat Joe cherished the gift of the land, worked it and respected it. He is survived by relatives, neighbours and many friends. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.