My father-in-law passed away last weekend. Like my grandfather who died last October, Tony was an inspiring person and someone I admired.

Tony worked hard. He left school when he was just 15 to start working on the family farm. The money earned from the farm was used to put his six siblings through college. As he would say himself, he did a “fourteen year apprenticeship” on the farm before he married his wife Mary and the farm was handed down to him. They had seven children (once they had Edel, my wife, they must have been happy that they couldn’t do any better!) and the hard work continued until they were all adults.

Tony had an unfaltering positive outlook, once he set his mind to something he would always achieve it. When electricity came to Clare, Tony wired and plumbed the house himself. He did an evening class in woodworking which gave him enough confidence to cut down a tree, cut it into rafters and use it to build a roof for the coach house. When he retired he built a new house and did a lot of the work himself. It didn’t matter what the challenge was, he would figure out a way of doing it.

Tony loved telling stories, and people loved listening to them. No matter what the topic was, he would have an interesting or funny story to tell. He would recount the event with uncanny attention to detail, building up the story and drawing you in. Once he knew you were hooked, he would pause and have a sip of tea or a bite of his biscuit to build up some tension. He loved riddles too and he would have a twinkle in his eye when he knew that you had fallen into the trap of trying to figure out the seemingly impossible solution when the simple answer was right in front of you!

One of his stories was about shooting pigeons during the war. Tony would go out to the edge of the farm under the cover of darkeness to shoot pigeons in the moonlight to sell to the soldiers. The price they got for a pigeon was exactly twice the cost of a cartridge for the gun. That meant that if they missed with one shot then they had to hit the target with the next shot just to break even!

I met Tony almost ten years ago. He welcomed me into his home with a friendly handshake before getting down to business and tracing my family tree! Tony had an unbelievable knowledge of people. Not just who people were, who they were related to and what they did, but how people behaved and what made them tick. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. “It takes all kinds” he would say.

While he was building his new house I called in to have a look at how it was progressing. Afterwards, in the car, I finally had him on his own and told him I had a question for him. “I’m thinking of asking Edel to marry me”, I said nervously. He slammed on the brakes and the car came to a stop! “Run that by me again…” he said. Unsure of how to take his reaction, I repeated it, my voice trembling. Thankfully he gave me his blessing, put the car in first gear and we were off.

I’m going to miss his outstretched hand and the friendly “how’re ya Kevin?” when I visit. I’m going to miss his stories and sayings. I wish he was around to meet our children, to sit them on his knee and tell them the wrong versions of nursery rhymes until they are laughing and shouting the correct version.

Tony helped to raise a great family. A family with strong morals and beliefs. A family that come together to help each other. A family that have inherited his values, determination, friendliness, story telling, humour, inventiveness and approach to hard work. A family that I am proud to have become part of.

Rest in peace Tony. You will be sadly misssed by a lot of people.

13 Comments

  1. This is beautiful Kevin and very touching. I, too, am glad to have known him but sorry it was only for a short time. He had a great charisma and made one feel very close and special to him…hard to explain. May he rest in peace.

  2. Kevin, that is so beautiful. You have a gift with the words for sure as well as the photos. The emotion is high. May Tony rest in peace. You have done him proud. Best wishes to you all.

  3. Excellant tribute Kevin. You have a way with words while I did not know your father in law having met Edel I am sure her pleasant caring ways were formed from following his footsteps. May he rest in peace. Hope ye all find peace also to accept his passing to his eternal home.

  4. Thanks Kevin for such a moving and very true synopsis of Dad’s life. It has been an honour to call Tony my Dad for the last 33 years and as Edel is my twin they were happy with us both to finish with us. He’ll be sorely missed by us all

  5. Thanks Kevin. Made me laugh & cry in equal measure! Dad was a great character & has left a huge void in all our lives. You captured the essence of the man perfectly. I’m sure that he’s above telling stories as we speak!!

  6. That is so nice, you can just hear Tony’s voice telling those stories. Everybody loved him. He has left a wonderful family after him and I’m sure he’s looking down on them with great pride.

  7. That was a touching tribute Kevin. Everyone has fond memories of Tony, Mary and Crowhill. For the O Connells, Crowhill was always a great place to visit. Tony and Mary were welcoming and patient hosts. I can remember at least a few occasions when there must have been 20 to 30 cousins gathered up and around the climbing tree and running about the place. Nicki and Aisling were very happy to spend time with him and he will be missed by all of us here in Bermuda. We will look forward to seeing you all on our next trip home. Declan

  8. RIP Uncle Tony,
    You will be missed by a lot of people all around. Last time i saw you always made me laugh at the stories and jokes you told. You reminded me in your stories how the all the kids back then used to go up and down the climbing tree for hours and that if i was there i would have loved it. Even though i didn’t see you a lot, when i did i always had a good time.
    Look forward to being at Crowhill again soon and seeing everyone soon again.
    Aisling <3 xo

  9. Deepest respects to Kevin & Edel & Tony’s Family, Kevin It’s being a while since I visited your website and just read your beautiful loving words of Tony. Tony was clearly an inspiriational person who touched the lives of many people. As you have recounted through your beautiful words, you have shared his love and affection onto others. As people we become better human beings by knowing such inpiriational people such as Tony who we can only aspire to emulate in our lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment