Michael (Mickey) Buckley, Caiseal Na Rí and formerly Main Street, Cashel passed to his eternal reward on June 29, 2015 less than two years after his beloved Maureen who died on August 7, 2013.
The genial Michael, known simple as Buckley to his inner circle, was for all his working life a hard working successful businessman- entrepreneur who like the master blacksmith was a great believer in having many irons in the fire at the same time.
Born in 1931, the fourth of six children of Tim and Mary Buckley, Main Street, Cashel, Michael came into this world under the watchful eye of nurse Alice Rouse, in Hill House, Palmershill. His parents’ marriage was a match, (arranged marriage), she being sixteen years his junior.
Tim Buckley, a farmer’s son from Coachford, Co, Cork (Tailor and Ansty) came to Cashel in the 1920s as postmaster in the post office which at the time was housed at 68 Main Street, coincidentally later to become Michael’s family home. His mother Mary, nee Kiely, hailed from Roscrea. Given the former Coyles Medical Hall as a wedding present by his mother, Tim and Mary opened a grocery shop but because of regulations at the time, civil servants couldn’t be involved in another business so the running of the shop fell to Mary, who ran the business with and energy and verve which was so evident later on in her son when his time came to take over.
Affectionately know as Ma Hat, (she always wore a beret) to a generation of Cashel folk and further afield when the County Ballroom was in its hey day, Buckleys was the only game in town for something to eat and drink after the dance. Ham or beef sandwich, plain, sauce or mustard, and the milk straight out of the bottle and consumed standing up, no chairs in those days, except on a fine night on Coyle’s steps next door.
Michael received his early education in Cashel before moving to Rockwell College to complete his second level. A noted sportsman, particularly on the hurling field, he won an All Ireland Minor Hurling medal with Tipperary in 1949, on the same day his fellow Cashelman Jim Devitt played on the victorious Tipperary Senior Hurling team, a double with has not been achieved since. Because of his farming background, Michael spent a year at Gormanston Agri College, Co, Meath. During that year he trained and played on the Gormanstown team that won the Meath County Final.
On finishing college, Michael spent some time in London before returning home to work with Royal Liver Insurance. During this time he met his future wife, Thurles woman Maureen O’Connell. After their wedding the couple opened a small shop in Croke Street, Thurles which Maureen ran while Michael gave his full attention to his newly acquired milk run.
At one stage it is fair to say that he was suppling bottled milk to most of the town and surrounding areas. At the time he also rented land to fatten cattle (another hark back to his farming background). He owned an extensive piggery where the Main Street car park is today. A major fire in which most of the animals were killed completely destroyed that enterprise sometime in the early 60s. Undeterred by the setback, Michael set about acquiring some of the finest properties in the town which he turned into rented accommodation at a time when such accommodation was in short supply. He commissioned the first purpose built flats (apartments) in the town (near the entrance to the Main Street car park) decades before the Celtic Tiger madness.
The money to fund the building of the flats came, according to a family source, from a bet placed on the fortuitous winner of the 1962 Epson Derby, the Vincent O’Brien trained Larkspur, who was led up by the late Richie Delahunty, a great Fianna Fail colleague of Michael’s.
A move back to Cashel saw him diversify even further with the acquisition of a cigarette round whereby he replenished cigarette machines throughout Tipperary and much of Kilkenny. It was at this time that Michael and Maureen took over the family business from his parents and in the process turned it into the town’s first self service mini market. This whetted his appetite even further and in the late 70s he bought his final acquisition, the much larger premises from Joe O’Connor, across the road which he added to even further in the 80s when he bought the former Feehan’s grain and timber store which the family ran as a successful MACE supermarket right up to 2013.
A staunch member of the Fianna Fail party, Michael like nothing better than to unwind in the company of like minded in one of his favourite hostelries. In the days before the bypass it wasn’t uncommon to see national political figures break their journey and call to the shop to have a chat with ‘Buckley’.
He took three breaks every year, the first to the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis, the second to the All Ireland Hurling Final and lastly to land of his forebears Coachford and the West Cork-Kerry region. In latter years he was content to sit on his chair in the shop in a sort of Ceann Comhairle role, observing the goings on. When the business closed in 2013 Michael moved with his daughter Michelle and her husband Eddie O’Meara and their family to Caiseal Na Ri on the Golden Road where he spent the last two years of his life content and happy after a job well done.
The end when it came on June 29 was, if not unexpected, just a little before its time.
Michael was laid to rest with Maureen in Cormacs Cemetery, Cashel. He is survived by his children Marie, Claire, Timmy, Anne and Michelle, brother Danny, granchildren and sons-law.