Family, relatives and friends gave the late Stevie O’Connor, formerly from Kiltinan, Fethard, a fitting send off last weekend following his unexpected death on March 20 at his rented home near Cloneen. The news of Stevie’s passing came as a great shock to the community who in the past few years had come to know this colourful character again after he moved back from England to his native Fethard.
A lover of animals and nature, Stevie was happiest when walking or trekking over hills, byways, valleys and it was very understandable why he later joined ‘The Long Riders Guild’ – the world’s first international association of equestrian explorers – an invitation-only organisation that was formed in 1994 to represent men and women of all nations who have ridden more than 1,000 continuous miles on a single equestrian journey. In 2002 Stevie rode his pony ‘Colina’ on the 3000 kilometres trek from Seville in Spain, via Santiago de Compostela and back to his home in Cornwall where he lived at that time. This mammoth journey was recorded in Stevie’s book ‘Dare to Dream’ published in 2006 as an eBook on www.chipmunkapublishing.co.uk
On May 14, 2012, Stevie, after eight years planning, started his ‘Around Ireland Spring Trek’ with his new steed ‘Jess’ which was supplied by his friend Don O’Connell, Fethard. Steve dedicated this trek to the memory of his daughter Jessica who tragically died through suicide on December 2, 2010.
Stevie and ‘Jess’ completed the trek on October 17, finishing where he started in Dungarvan. Steve was the first Irishman to be awarded Fellowship of the Royal Geographic Society in the sphere of Equestrian Exploration and Membership of ‘The Long Riders Guild’ and the first Equestrian Explorer to ride around the Four Provinces of Ireland. Steve was promoting well-being and the IINM Suicide Prevention.
Stevie, who celebrated his 60th birthday on February 18, 2013, regularly attended the music sessions on Friday nights in McCarthys Hotel, Fethard, where he sang songs from his vast repertoire gathered on his travels.
On Friday, March 22, as a tribute to Stevie’s friendship and life, musicians, family and friends gathered in McCarthy’s to give Stevie a ‘wake’ he would be proud of. On Saturday Stevie was removed to Kiltinan Graveyard for a very memorable and intimate burial overlooking his original home and the valley of Slievenamon.
Stevie will always be remembered for the unique person he was and his untimely passing is deeply mourned by his daughter Sabina, his family Elma, Jimmy, Catherine, Patricia and Conor, relatives and his many friends befriended on his travels. May he rest in peace.