The late Gerry O'Connor
“He didn’t talk compassion, he lived compassion” were the words spoken by Michael O’Connor, older brother of the late Ballymore Eustace man Gerry O’Connor, whose recent funeral attracted one of the largest crowds witnessed in recent years.
There was a massive turn out at his funeral on the weekend of July 1/2 from the community and from his friends and colleagues at Cheeverstown House where he worked for ten years.
Aged only 53, the suddenness and brevity of his illness shocked not only his family but the extended community and the many other organisations he aided during his life.
Michael spoke of a young Gerry growing up in Alton, in the UK, the second youngest of five boys. Their parents hailed from Bantry, Co Cork and Gerry, above all of them, loved the family holidays home, striking up a close rapport with his uncle.
He loved farm life, particularly driving a horse-drawn delivery cart. He made regular trips ‘home’ to Bantry so it was no surprise when he and his wife Tracy decided to come to Ireland to live.
Sixteen years ago, they chose a home on the back road, Plunkett Road where they lived for a short time before settling at the Sycamores, Broadleas.
Gerry was a deeply religious man but he lived his faith, lived a good life, helping others at every opportunity. From the onset, he chose social work as his favoured career and was particularly interested in special needs. Michael stated that social inclusion and treating everyone equally was paramount to Gerry, hence he had worked with St Michael’s House, St John of God and at Cheeverstown.
The huge attendance and support of colleagues and residents of Cheeverstown during his illness and then in support of the family after his passing was a tribute to the man’s high standing within the Cheeverstown community.
He and Tracy were committed to the Samaritans organisation and Michael noted that Gerry also had the gift, not just to listen when people needed it, but also to spot potential volunteers; Gerry was noted for his ability to recruit and secure more helpers for the organisation.
Tracy and Gerry also gave weekend counselling twice a year at Barretstown to families of children with serious illness.
They were actively involved in parish activities with Gerry compiling content for The Bell, a weekly publication for the Church of the Immaculate Conception. They were widely regarded as good neighbours, decent people and a couple who were dedicated to the community of Ballymore Eustace.
Michael stated that only shortly before his illness was diagnosed, the family received a video on Whatsapp with Tracy, Gerry and the family dog, Jules out hill walking, looking happy out and content with the world.
Gerry’s faith was a crutch for him during his illness but his death shocked the community who are indebted to him on so many levels.
He is survived by his wife Tracy, children Jack, Tom and Fionnuala; mother Kathleen, brothers Michael, Joe, David, Peter and Christopher and the extended family.
A good soul, always the Good Samaritan, the late Gerry O’Connor, RIP.