Last week we heard the tragic news that our friend and veterinary colleague Gerard Long died tragically on a farm in Moyglass, Fethard.
Our deepest sympathies go to his wife Gail and daughters Jessica, Sarah and Elaine, his mother Maureen, his sisters and brother and extended family.
The communities of Fethard and Clonmel will be all the less for the loss of this character and gentleman.
Ger was originally from Market Hill in Fethard and although he lived most of his life in Lawlesstown, Clonmel, his practice was based in Fethard and the surrounding countryside and he was a well know Fethard persona.
As someone remarked at his funeral, he was one of the last of the ‘old-fashioned’ vets around Clonmel.
For a long time it was Gerard Long, Muiris Dromey and Peter Dougan in practice in the area. These three vets worked as one man practitioners. They would have worked long hours, with very few nights or weekends off.
When they started out as vets, there were no cattle crushes on farms, no proper facilities to handle animals, no mobile phones to take calls, limited animal medications.
It was a tough career and frustrating hours but Ger loved it. Farming is 24/7 and vets have to be available for cows calving and sick animals 24/7 too.
Whenever he did get away for a few days he would be fretting and worried about how his practice was!!
Ger could turn his hand at anything as a vet. He was primarily a farm practitioner. His practice serviced farms from Cloneen, Fethard, Moyglass, Drangan, Clonmel, Ballymacarbry and Grange.
You could see him on the road day and night on call outs, calving cows, treating sick animals and TB Testing. He also looked after the dogs and cats in Fethard, often taking bookings or dispensing advice over a coffee in McCarthys!
He loved horses too and it was on a call treating a sick horse where he died. For the farmers and animal owners in Fethard he will be hard to replace.
Ger also worked in the AIBP meat plant in Cahir as a Veterinary Inspector and was well know by all who worked there. His was the afternoon shift, and he could be spotted heading out of Clonmel or Fethard at top speed about 1pm every day to get there on time. What is apparent to anyone who saw the crowds at his funeral in Lawlesstown on Thursday and Friday was that Ger was liked by all who knew him. Everyone had a story about him but the key to each story was how he enjoyed people. He loved the chat and craic and he himself had plenty of hilarious stories to tell from his veterinary exploits. These he would recount, with a big laugh at the end!.
Jolly’s Cafe and McCarthys Bar in Fethard were his drop in spots for a quick coffee/sandwich in between calls. I heard reports that he could be seen behind the bar in McCarthys if there was a helping hand required and I know he is a big loss to his friends there.
Ger was obliging and kind. If you needed a vet he was there, day or night. If you had an emergency he would drop what he was doing and go to your assistance (or rather your animal’s assistance).
Ger as a colleague was always quick to help if you called or was there with a listening ear if you had a problem.
If he spotted you when he was out and about, he would always stop to have a chat no matter how rushed he was. Whenever I would meet Ger on the road he would pull in the jeep and have a chat. He would always tell me about his girls of whom he was most proud. Jessica, Sarah and Elaine all grown up now and doing so well.
Gail and Ger were great hosts and loved having family and friends around them. There was always an extra place at their table if you called.
After all his years of hard work I think he was getting a bit of time to himself. He had joined the Ss Peter and Paul’s choir last September and had made a big impression already - although I think it may be that male choir members are at a premium!
He also had a great love of gardening. He was at his happiest pottering around his garden. I know he got over to the Chelsea Garden Show a few times and loved it.
Gerard Long was a true gentleman. He will be hugely missed by his family, friends, colleagues, the people of Fethard, his fellow choirists and by the Fethard farming community.
May he Rest in Peace.
By Sarah Mitchell, MVB.