We’ve lost a diamond… a one-off with heart of gold

It was the sudden nature of the passing of Mick McCormack last weekend that has taken us all by surprise. Tribute pieces like this are, by their very nature, laden with clichés, but as someone who knew Mick well, worked with him, and socialised with him, I must say he was a total one-off and one of life’s great characters.

You couldn’t but like Mick McCormack. His positive demeanour and sunny disposition meant that you were hooked from the start. He covered everything under the sun for the Roscommon papers over the years, but was most at home at the big GAA matches. Instantly recognisable in his short-sleeved shirt (regardless of the temperature), he loved the banter with the crowds. He’d amble around the sideline before the game and also at half-time – chatting and having the craic with the fans – laughing and joking, but getting his photos too. A chat with Mick was better than any half-time entertainment!

But behind all the jokes and the craic, Mick was an excellent photographer. He took some cracking snaps over the years and I know he was very, very proud of the one which captured Gerry Lohan’s winning goal in the Connacht final in 2001.

Mick had a heart of gold and he would do anything for you. When I was writing a book a few years ago he promised me any photo he had in his collection at no cost. Indeed he came down to Roscommon especially to take the photos that were used for the cover of the book, and he wouldn’t take a shilling.

Of course he was mighty craic socially, and anyone in Ballaghaderreen (and much further afield) will testify to that. He always had a number of great stories and yarns to tell. He was a great storyteller and superb company.

He loved the banter surrounding the Mayo-Roscommon rivalry, and boy did he savour the few times that Roscommon beat their rivals over the years.

He was a great colleague and friend and I will always remember his support and phone calls when they were needed over the years.

The media business in Roscommon, the town of Ballaghaderreen and the county of Roscommon have lost a diamond with the untimely passing of Mick.

To his mother, brother, sister, extended family and friends, I offer my deepest sympathy.

Rest in peace, old friend.