The passing of T.J. Walsh of Rathurd, Donaghmore, Co. Limerick and formerly of Gormanstown, Ardfinnan, on Friday August 12 marked a very sad day for his family, the community of Donaghmore, Knockea and Roxboro and everybody who knew him.
The respect and huge esteem in which he was held was well and truly evidenced by the large number of people who called to his residence to pay their respects and who attended the funeral Mass on Monday August 15 in the pouring rain. Those of us whose lives he touched and influenced will be forever grateful, inspired and encouraged to continue in some shape or form with his immense contribution to community and family life.
T.J. had a very fulfilled life. He was born on January 17, 1949 to Thomas and Josie Walsh in Gormanstown, Ardfinnan and grew up on the family farm with his brother Willie and three sisters Peggy, Mary and Alice. Primary education was at Gormanstown National School and he continued to St. Joseph’s College, Cahir before finishing his second level education in the Vocational School.
During the summer holidays he worked in Cahir livestock mart and then started working fulltime with Robert Wilson & Sons (Cahir Proteins). 1973 T.J. joined the Prison Service and so competent was he in his career throughout his working life he progressed up the ranks and retired as Governor in 2006.
From a young age he took a keen interest in G.A.A. playing football for Ardfinnan at all levels with his senior career spanning from 1968 to 1984. He won Senior South Championship medals in 1968, 1973 & 1974 lining out at full forward in 1970 and mid field in the 1974 County Championship winning teams. He also played for Tipperary at minor level in 1967 and progressed to U21 and Junior in 1970 and played Senior Championship for Tipperary in 1974. He was regarded as an elegant midfielder and was an outstanding fielder of the high ball. T.J. also brought great humour to the dressing room and always played the game with a smile on his face. In 1974 together with team mate and friend Liam Myles he formed a players association in the club with a view to organising trips to Dublin for big games and in general to create a greater bond with the players of his era.
In 1977 T.J. married Susan Hogan and reared five children, Laura, Enda, Roisin, Suzanne and Barry and took great pride in each and every one of them . The house was always full of life where visitors were assured of a warm welcome and refreshments.
However, it was in the parish of Donaghmore, Knockea and Roxboro where he spent the last 25yrs we all got to know and love the great T.J. Walsh. It was our community that reaped the full benefit of his abilities. He immersed himself in almost all aspects of parish and community affairs always performing his duties with the necessary skills, care and diligence. Donaghmore National School and its enormous developments over the years was to benefit hugely from his talents where he served as Chairman of the Board of Management. With South Liberties GAA Club he initially became involved in the football scene where he had a particular interest in underage coaching.
TJ loved his golf. The game suited the competitive sportsman in him and he had a wide range of fourball partners. No golf match was complete until the final hole and the banter afterwards in the clubhouse. He went on many golfing trips and regaled all present with his singing. He was for the most part the organiser of these trips leaving no stone unturned in the planning and organising of such events. In recent years his golf was of a very high quality. His hurley grip was no obstacle and he had many successes. Prizes adorn his sitting room but more important to him always was the company and comraderie.
He was an avid gardener and was always willing to share potatoes and vegetables with his neighbours and friends and his landscaping skills were always to be admired. He had a keen interest in singing and ceili dancing. T.J. was also a great party man and going home early was never an option. Slievenamon, The Croppy Boy and Will you go Lassie go were often heard loud and clear well into the early hours. His commitment, expertise and dedication were always in abundance and he never stinted in the sharing with our community all of the talents that were given to him whenever called upon. He possessed tremendous organisational and communication skills which served him and the community so well especially in sometimes difficult situations.
However at the beginning, middle and end of everything was his beloved family. He was a devoted family man and several of T.J.’s traits can be observed in members of his family. He took great pride in his native Tipperary and of his farming background and upbringing. Of course he was fortunate in having a leg on both sides of the Galtee Mountains but it was always his native Tipperary, Ardfinnan, Ballybacon Grange that emerged to the fore. (the savage loves). He had a great gra for Tipperary GAA affairs and was never slow to remind us whenever he felt it necessary of where the Premier County lies.
T.J. who is survived by his wife Susan, sons Enda & Barry, daughters Laura, Roisin & Suzanne, son-in-law Joe and grandson Rhys, brother and sisters, relatives, neighbours and friends. He will be sadly missed by all who are left behind. As his coffin left the Church it was draped in the colours of his two clubs, Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary and South Liberties, Co. Limerick and flanked by guards of honour from both clubs. How fitting it was for his daughter Roisin to sing her final hymn of the day, ‘You’ll never walk alone’.
T.J. you never walked alone and you’ll never walk alone.
T.J. Walsh born in 1949 and died 12th August, 2011.
May he rest in peace.
By: Liam Crawford.