The late Paddy Buckley, Longstone, Cullen, who died after a short illness in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, on February 27 last, was a much loved community activist and local historian, who possessed an unrivalled oral knowledge of family history within his area.
He first saw the light of day in Ballinard in September 1933, the eldest son of Davy Buckley and Mary Hayes from Emly.
His father, still bearing the injuries suffered in the War of Independence, died in 1974 in his 78th year. His mother died a young woman in her fifties and Paddy’s three siblings, Mary, Bridie and Liam, also predeceased him.
Paddy, on his own admission, didn’t like school in Glenbane, preferring to work in the fields, or on fair days to help local farmers bring livestock to the town. His first permanent job and one in which he would remain for almost forty years, was with the ESB, becoming part of the Quiet Revolution which transformed the Irish countryside during the early years of rural electrification.
It was while working in west Limerick that he met the love of his life, the Queen Bee as he would refer to her, Nora Kelly of Shanagolden. They were married in 1957 and had four sons, Gerry, P.J., Noel and Seamus, and three grandchildren, Maeve, Conor and Darragh, all of whom they were justifiably proud.
He suffered a stroke in 1985 while working on a cleanup of Cullen Graveyard, but this setback he overcame, as he did other major health scares, including a graft bypass and cancer. The death of his beloved Nora, however, in June 2010, was his greatest obstacle and the only one with which he never came to terms. Some of the light within him dimmed as he withdrew into himself and contemplated his own mortality.
Paddy spent all of his eighty years in his native place. He never travelled abroad – it held no attraction for him – and anyway, everything he needed and loved was right there in and around his own community. He liked nothing better on a fine afternoon than to travel to the hills around Doon and Hollyford and nearer home at Mount Bruis and Longstone, where he would gaze for hours at the countryside spread out before him.
It was this love of place which inspired his involvement in numerous voluntary organisations that even the famed founder of Muintir na Tíre, Canon John Hayes, would have struggled to rival. Some of these organisations included the GAA in Lattin and for a brief period with the ill-fated Cullen GAA Club, the local water scheme, Cullen Graveyard Committee, Cullen National School Board of Management, Glenbane School Commemoration Committee, Tipperary Wheelers, Lattin Drama Group, Lattin Cullen Senior Citizens, the Aisling Children’s Fund, the ESB Worker’s Retirement Group, Tipperary Town Historical Society, the Labour Party and numerous Old IRA commemorative groups.
Many people would have recognised his voice, but not the face though his Irish music programme on Tipperary Mid-West Community Radio and the popular Open House which he hosted for many years with the late Sean Kelly. He was a local newspaper correspondent and edited the memoirs of his relative and War of Independence activist, Maurice Meade, as well as helping to compile the Lattin-Cullen Journal. In many, if not all of these organisations, he served as treasurer, an indication of the trust and esteem in which he was held by his fellow members.
Many of his neighbours would have experienced one of his numerous acts of kindness which were undertaken on a daily basis; whether it meant driving someone to Tipperary, a message delivered, a visit to someone living alone, or in a hospital or nursing home, or just a reassuring word, Paddy would remember to do it. He was a creature of habit and come hell or high water he would continue unfailingly to fulfill his routine. Once he had made up his mind, not even a request from the Pope himself could defer it. So he could be stubborn, but what man does not possess faults and his virtues far outweighed such trivial things. His crop of white hair clothed a sharp wit that enjoyed the company of acquaintances, the banter of friends and the occasional prank on an unsuspecting target.
On a cold day in Lattin’s New Cemetery, we said our final goodbyes to Paddy Buckley, a man guided by his faith and the light of an earlier generation that he had loved and lost. He is reunited with them now, leaving us to grieve his passing and hold close to our hearts his memory.