Carrick-on-Suir has lost one of its most well-known, respected, loved and active citizens.
After a short illness, but a long and fruitful life, Jack Lalor (83), Woodland Heights, died on Monday last, July 13.
He will be buried in St Mary’s cemetery following Requiem Mass today (Wednesday) at 10.30am in St. Nicholas’ Church.
Survived by his wife Kitty, sons Patrick, John and Dermot, daughters Marie and Ann, and grandchildren, Jack will be greatly missed by the many organisations and groups he dedicated so much of his time to.
Jack was born and raised on Main Street in Carrick - he was a ‘true Carrick-on-Suir man’ according to Senator Denis Landy, who paid tribute to Jack and his many life achievements.
He had one brother, Ned, and two sisters, Kathleen and Mary and his parents owned Lalor’s Pub, at 10 Main Street (now Kennedy’s Live). Jack worked in the Tannery for many years. He worked in the wages department and he was also in charge of leather exports to England. For a time in the 1980s he ran the family pub, then owned by Mary who was working in England. Jack opened it only at weekends when he had time until his longstanding friend Jim Drohan came on board for about 12 months, opening the pub during the week for Jack, who then took over again at weekends.
Jim’s friendship with Jack began in 1959 when he started work at the Tannery, and they were inseparable ever since.
“He used to always call on Saturdays, we would watch the racing together, have a cup of tea, a few biscuits and enjoy the craic, he would be loking for all the news,” recalled Jim, who was a Labour Party councillor on Carrick Town Council for ten years, from 1999 to 2009.
But it was down to Jack’s encouragement and support that Jim entered politics. “He encouraged me to go for election, and he gave me great help in matters I wouldn’t have been too sure of in the Council,” said Jim. Of course, Jack had first-hand knowledge of local politics, having served as an independent councillor on the Urban District Council from 1985 to 1994.
He used his time in the council chamber wisely, careful not to over-contribute for the sake of it, but always ready to speak out when necessary.
Jack ran for re-election in 1994 but lost his seat by just one vote. Surprisingly, he did not seek a recount, accepting with grace and dignity that he had lost the seat. It was a measure of the man he was. Although he lost one seat, he gained another at the press table, from where he documented the meetings with great accuracy and impartiality.
Jack was an accomplished athlete and sportsman. He was a former Irish champion in the 80-yard dash, and won the 100-yard sprint in the prestigious Guinness athletics meeting in the same year during the 1950s. He won numerous athletics awards all around the country, as well as South Tipperary Hurling Championships with Carick Swan - a club he also played football with. He played rugby with Carrick Rugby Club in later years, and up to two years ago was still a regular on the courts of Castleview Lawn Tennis Club.
Even after Christmas 2013, Jack was still travelling to the Sean Kelly Sports Centre for his daily exercise routine. When the Mount St Nicholas Hill became a challenge, Jack bought an electronic bicycle to help him overcome that. There was no stopping him - even in illness he lived with the same enthusiasm to stay active as he always had done.
Jack was a huge supporter of the Sean Kelly Sports Centre and was a member of a dedicated team instrumental in its development. Jack was a member and director of the Centre Committee since the late 1980s.
David Skelly, committee chairperson paid tribute to Jack’s dedication to the sports centre down through the years. “He was extremely popular with the staff, and was a father figure to many,” he said.
Jack even had a little office at the centre, from where he compiled and wrote the Carrick-on-Suir notes for The Nationalist and South Tipp Today, and other newspapers for the last ten years or more.
Editor of The Nationalist, Michael Heverin, described Jack as a totally committed community activist and an outstanding Carrick-on-Suir correspondent.
“Local clubs, organisations and community groups relied on Jack to get news of their activities into print and he never let them down. For a town of its size, Carrick-on-Suir punches way above its weight in areas such as music, drama, community activity and sport and Jack relished the prospect of reporting on their wonderful successes when the occasion arose.
“He reported on the town’s affairs in a totally professional manner but it was also a labour of love for a proud Carrick man for whom the town came first.
“He will be sadly missed by all at The Nationalist and our sincerest sympathies go to his wife and family.
Senator Denis Landy who served on Carrick UDC with Jack described him as ‘a gentleman’, ‘a team player’ and someone who was motivated always for the betterment of Carrick. “I always looked up to him and always admired his wise counsel, he was there for the betterment of the town and always put Carrick first.”
Saddened by his dear friend’s passing, Jim said he and his wife Margaret, and family, express their grave sorrow.
“We were great friends. He was a marvellous man, he was very good to me when I was ill myself a few years ago. He visited me all the time,” said Jim.
Jack was one of the longest serving members of the Carrick on Suir Lions Club. He was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation for 25 years service in 2002 and received the Melvin Jones Award, the highest honour in Lionism, in 2013. In a tribute, the club said it would miss him very much and would like to extend sympathy to his family. Jack accepted his illness and carried on with his life telling Jim shortly before he died: “I had a wonderful 83 years.”