Last week, Ballymore bid farewell to the late Tom O’Rourke senior, a man who had contributed to so many facets of life in the village during his 90 years. On Friday morning, the news gradually spread of the tragic death of another Ballymore man, Jason McDonald, formerly of Oliver Plunkett Road.
The 33 year-old was residing in Tasmania and returned home for Christmas with his son Cormac. His sudden death has stunned the community and is a devastating blow to his parents, Margaret and Collie, sister Sheryl, brothers Michael, Leonard and Simon. Those who knew Jason will remember him as a cheerful person, seemingly always in good spirits, the ‘cheeky chappie with the cheeky smile’. Over the Christmas season, he met with friends and renewed acquaintances, he was a gifted chef and happy in his work in Tasmania. We extend deepest sympathies to Naomi and his son, Cormac, parents Margaret and Collie, brothers and sister, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, neighbours and friends.
A lovely young fella with a beaming smile, may he rest in peace, the late Jason McDonald. (At the time of going to press, details of his funeral were not yet available).
The Late Tom O’Rourke
Not surprisingly, there was a massive turn out for the funeral of the late Tom O’Rourke. Tom celebrated his 90 birthday last May, and his 65th wedding anniversary in April with his wife Rita. The couple raised ten children: Eamonn, Kathleen (Kay), Olive, twins Jim and Pete, Tom, Gerard, Anthony, Margaret and Kevin who between them, have 17 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Tom’s life impacted on many key areas of Ballymore Eustace. As a carpenter, he worked on projects including Scoil Mhuire and Hollywood School; he was foreman and oversaw the construction of the new Handball Centre, was a lifelong member of the Wolfe Tone Brass & Reed Band in which he played the base and shared a passionate love of gardening with Rita, a passion that resulted in winning many awards for Best Garden in local Tidy Town competition.
Their rose garden and fish pond was a feature that passing walkers stopped to admire.
O’Rourke’s Joinery was a source of employment and industry in the village, in its heyday employed 38 people in the ‘70s. Sadly, a fire destroyed the joinery in 1978 but the business continued, albeit on a lesser scale and many of the O’Rourke children and grandchildren went on to work in the timber and associative industries.
Tom was a committed pioneer; aside from gardening and his love of the Wolfe Tone Brass & Reed Band, he drew enormous pleasure from walking and playing cards. Daily, he walked the local stretch known as “The Commons” with his pockets filled with sweets. Several mourners at his funeral alluded to him as the “Rolo Man” and “Murray Mint” man as they waited by their gates for Tom to pass and offer sweets. In today’s environment, that might be viewed differently but Tom, despite being a busy business man, always had time for children and the O’Rourke house was open forum to the children of the village and in particular, those dropping in and out of the handball alley.
In latter years, Tom developed Alzheimer’s Disease and resided at St Vincent’s Nursing Home, Athy where the family is extremely appreciative of the excellent care and personal attention he received.
As Tom’s memory health deteriorated, he still loved to see the great grandchildren arrive and he engaged with jovial tales.
For his birthday last year, the Wolfe Tone Brass & Reed Band travelled to Athy and performed for Tom and Rita, who were also celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary with most of the greater family in attendance. Tom had a wicked sense of humour, with a quick wit and also loved playing cards with the late Paddy Monaghan and Jack Keogh (‘Cinta’s dad). But whenever and wherever he could contribute to the betterment of Ballymore, the late Tom O’Rourke did – music, sport, church, business, etc.
He lived a full life and enjoyed it all every stage and if he were asked to distinguish his greatest achievements, it would not be his business or gardening success, it would be his children and their children, etc. All Rita and Tom’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren attended the funeral and Gifts of the Offertory included a cornet instrument, wooden bowl, trowel and a deck of cards.
The late Tom O’Rourke, a good life and a great legacy, may he rest in peace, amen.
Supt Reassures Community
The CDA held a general meeting to discuss the closure of Ballymore Eustace Garda Station. The Resource Centre was packed with a heavy attendance from local councilors and TDs including Sean O’Fearghail, Anthony Lawlor and Martin Heydon, with apologies from Jack Wall who was abroad on government duty. Cllrs M Wall, W Callaghan, R Daly, Seamie Moore, F Brett, P McEvoy, I Keithley and Athy Town Councillor Mark Dalton were present and most contributed to the discussion. Tom O’Keefe, Chairman CDA opened the meeting and sympathized with the Garda Suichona on the vicious killing of Det Adrian Donoghue, a minute’s silence was then observed.
Noel McCarthy, a barrister living locally was first to address the attendance and castigated Minister Shatter’s ‘arrogance’ and the ‘slyness’ in which early articles pertaining to the closures were made public. Mr McCarthy said he had been writing to the Minister as to how he could best protect his property when the Ballymore station closed knowing that organized criminal elements would take full advantage of same.
Mr McCarthy noted recent coverage of station closures gave an invitation, a ‘road map to the criminal community” to target Ballymore Eustace.
Sean O’Fearghail TD similarly raised questions in the Dail and was told it was “streamlining resources”. Mr McCarthy then added he finally received a reply on behalf of Minister Shatter by a Miss Orla Macpartland, the content of which made no relevant sense at all.
However, Garda Supt Pat Mangan of Naas then addressed the audience, stating it was he who deployed two gardai, Tom O’Donoghue and Joe Handy (Eamonn Whelan also) to Ballymore in 2009, there having been no garda presence in the preceding years.
The garda presence made a major impact and in the past few years, incidents of anti-social behavior and house burglaries significantly declined with only 4 house break-ins recorded last year.
“I have no interest in that service/work being undermined” said Gda Supt Mangan “surveillance in Ballymore is not going to be diminished by closing the station”. Gda Supt Mangan re assured the village that Garda O’Donoghue, whilst being stationed in Kilcullen, was going to be patrolling the village visibly and maintaining a presence here as before.
He requested that a local group or club might make a hall/office available to Tom and other gardai, to meet local residents who required paperwork signed off, etc.
Local resident Rose Barrett stated that prevention and the evident presence of gardai in the village was the best deterrent to criminals and that rural residents were being treated as second class citizens.
“We were assured that a GP would be deployed in Ballymore but we went from having a full time GP to a three morning clinic only. Family clinics hosted in the Health Centre are limited; our petrol station was closed for health and safety purposes – now it’s the garda station closing. Some locals have to pay for water and sewerage services, we don’t have paths or street lighting outside of the village perimeters yet we pay the same taxes and rates as everyone else”.
Gary Deegan asked if Garda Reserves could be sourced within the community and deployed here but Gda Tom O’Donoghue stated reserves couldn’t work in local areas “without being emotionally involved”.
Garda Tom then addressed the attendance and stated the service being maintained would be no better or worse than before. “I’m not talking ‘spin’; I can’t help but be emotionally involved with the community. There is the occasion here to worry and cause fear to people, a common sense approach is required and I’m hopeful Martin Heydon TD will get more personnel to Co Kildare and more in Kilcullen.
Sean O’Fearghail TD encouraged locals to implement a “super Community Alert System” and suggested linking up with Cllr P McEvoy who chaired the JPC. Martin Heydon TD then assured he was working with Anthony Lawlor, Jack Wall and Mr O’Fearghail to secure more staff for Co Kildare in the future.
Cllr Callaghan also advocated a community alert watch via texting but asked Supt Mangan if Kill village could expect the same level of patrolling and garda presence and stated “It’s a disgrace that with 5 TDs in Co Kildare serving the government, we couldn’t secure €12,000 funding to keep the stations open”.
Other pertinent points were raised by Hughie O’Neill who suggested that a “task force” and pro-active plan be formally agreed between the CDA, the community and Gda Supt Mangan.
Mr O’Neill warned that given the Troika was effectively running the country, who knows what further cuts would be instigated.
The meeting closed with a note of assurance from Garda Tom O’Donoghue who reminded locals he is available on 086 868 2965 at all times and will be continuing to monitor and patrol Ballymore Eustace as before. Morning Ireland covered the matter last week as did the Sunday Independent.
The BME Hollywood Boxing Club had a very successful trip to famous Mosside boxing club in Manchester recently when 14 boxers travelled to spar and train in the Mosside Club under the supervision of English coach, Michael (Mike) Dillon and Nigel Travis.
This will now become an annual event with BME HOllywood Club travelling to Manchester and the Manchester club making the return visit but the visit gave the local lads an opportunity to glean valuable experience and tips before competing in a a major boxing tournament in Hollywood Community Centre on Saturday, 16 February at 8pm.
Gallery & Gifts Closure
Saturday last saw the closure of Gallery & Gifts at the Square, another result of recessionary times. Proprietors Irene and John have been very supportive of the local People of the Year Awards and generously framed all nominations and prints presented to award winners by the CDA/Ballymore Bugle.
On behalf of the Ballymore Bugle team, treasurer Julie Ann Byrne would like to acknowledge their generosity and wish them every success in the future.
People of Year Awards
Sponsored by Naas Credit Union, the Ballymore People of the Year Awards will be hosted on February 16 in the Resource Centre.
There are six award winners this year: Martine Rigney, Tommy Deegan, Kay Kavanagh, Johnny Murphy, Mary Deegan and Mons John Wilson. Jennifer Murphy is this year’s winner of the Des Kennedy Memorial Award, dedicated to the late Des Kennedy and sponsored by Naas Credit Union, for whom Des was a member of the Board of Directors for years. The awards presentation will begin at 8pm in the Resource Centre, all welcome and refreshments served afterwards.
Luka to Bloom in BME!
The renowned Luka Bloom will perform in Ballymore on Monday, Feb18 – one of the leading Irish singer/songwriters for many years, with a huge following at home and abroad. He comes to Mick’s with his new CD ‘This New Morning’ before going to Australia for an extensive tour in March. Pat Coldrick (IRL), contemporary classical guitarist will perform on Mon, 25 February. .
Bingo continues in the Resource Centre on Wednesday nights from 8.30pm with two jackpots running, all welcome. The Bingo volunteers would like to extend deepest sympathy to Margaret McDonald and family on the tragic death of her son, Jason, may he rest in peace, amen.
Hollywood Race Night
Hollywood GAA is organising the Race Night for February 23rd in Poulaphuca House. Horses are now on sale from all adult team members at a cost of €10 – please support
Yoga Classes Resume
Sophie Cowley has resumed her yoga classes in the BME Inn on Monday from 8-9.30pm and starting last week, on Tuesday mornings from 9.30am-11am. All welcome.
What’s at the Library
Don’t forget Blessington Library hosts a number of informative and education al sessions during the week: Tuesday - Citizens Information in the Community Room from 1-4pm; Free Legal Advice Centre on the first and third Tuesday of every month from 6-8pm, by appointment only. Mindfulness & Meditation 7-8.30pm resumes on Tuesday, 15 January.
Knitting Group 11am -1pm, Writers group 3.30-5pm; Thursday - Toddler Time at 11am and on the last Friday of every month, the Book Club is hosted at 11.30am.