*Colman Garrihy. 

FORMER HEAD of Communications with Shannon Development, Colman Garrihy has been remembered as a gentleman of the highest order.

Many respects were paid to Colman at his reposal on Wednesday and funeral on Thursday of last week with the common description for the Moy native and Shannon resident being that he was a gentleman of the highest order.

Born in 1949 as the only child of Joseph and Bridget better known as Dilly, in the townland of Carrowntedaun in Moy, a place that remained ever close to his heart as the years progressed, Colman left CBS Ennistymon early to assist in the running of the family farm. He played underage football for Ennistymon and held a deep passion for Clare teams, supporting them all over the country.

As a teenager, he took on a senior role with Muintir na Tíre and was actively involved with Moy Youth Club. This helped to ignite a love of writing as he became a regular correspondent with The Clare Champion penning a youth column.

When he became Chairperson of the local branch of Muintir na Tíre, he became acquainted with Fr Harry Bohan and this led to him beginning to work for Shannon Development in 1970 at the age of 21.

He moved to Shannon for this role and headed up the communications department of Shannon Development, he took early retirement and exited his role in 1997. From here, he set up his own editorial service business and remained actively working right up until his death.

Within the Shannon community, he was involved in the Shannon Archaeological and Historical Society while he served as PRO of Wolfe Tones GAA club and a Minister of the Eucharist.

In 2018, Colman received lifetime membership of the National Union of Journalists, he was an active and encouraging member of the NUJ’s local branch in the Mid-West.

His input to these organisations was evident in the fact that a guard of honour was provided by Shannon Development, Wolfe Tones and the NUJ.

Speaking at his funeral mass, Colman’s daughter Jessica admitted, “it is a bit daunting to put pen to paper about Colman because he was such a wordsmith himself and such an accomplished speaker”.

During a short spell in Galway Clinic, he gave the Garrihy family plenty of guidance on how he wanted his funeral to be organised “being the detailed focused planner that he was”.

Symbols brought before the altar included a picture of the family farm in Carrowntedaun where his ancestors also farmed for generations and has proven to be the location for many happy family holidays since. As an only child, “he was very close to his parents,” Jacinta explained. Rosary beads were brought forward to demonstrate this deep faith.

A deep interest in family roots prompted the maternal Meere family tree to be put at the foot of the alter, he put this together with his cousin Kathleen Lynch. “Perhaps for being an only child, he was very close to his cousins and he loved nothing more than a big family gathering, we were delighted to surprise him with a big one in 2019 for his seventieth birthday,” Jacinta reflected.

A scrapbook of articles published by Colman acknowledged his role as a writer and editor. “He found his niche in the PR department of Shannon Development in 1970 and made the bold move to take early retirement,” she said. His subsequent writing company “proved to be a big success” and he was still assisting clients from his hospital bed.

Sport was “a big passion” of Colman’s which led to the appearance of a Clare flag and Wolfe Tones jersey in the mass. “He was so chuffed when we won the All-Ireland in 1995 with my brother Damien playing his part in the campaign,” Jacinta recalled.

She said, “his primary love was his family”. This is why he and his beloved wife Elizabeth better known as Lily renewed their vows on the day before he died in hospital.

‘Togetherness’ by Henry Scott Holland was read by Colman’s son Donal during the communion reflection. Donal had made the trip home from Australia twice in recent weeks to be with his father.

Addressing the mass, Colman’s son Damien noted, “The last time I spoke at a crowd as big as this was Limerick Chamber for AIB in front of a crowd which also included the Taoiseach. This is another privilege but one I would prefer not to have to do. Dad would have loved the big crowd, not because he was vain but because he loved making connections”.

In Shannon Development, Colman “found his calling,” Damien noted. The most important connection Colman made was with a certain Lily O’Brien. “While his career in Shannon Development was taking off he made other connections, he met Lily O’Brien at a dance in Miltown Malbay. It was love at first sight by all accounts, so much so that they both tried to find each other the next weekend. Mum went to Ennistymon thinking that’s where she would find the man from Moy and Dad went to Kilkee thinking that is where he’d find the woman from Doonbeg”.

He continued, “They went back to the traditional method of contacting via post. He invited her to a Clare Champion dinner dance and romance blossomed”.

When it came to the family farm in North-West Clare, Colman had “a deep sense that it was his place”. There was a sense of delight when the next generation of Garrihys started travelling there for family holidays and he was ecstatic when Jacinta and Dermot refurbished property there before making it their home.

Members of the Garrihy family were brought around the country following Clare’s teams in hurling and football by Colman, Damien recalled. “He was particularly thrilled that the 1995 win coincided with my brief inter-county involvement,” the sub-goalkeeper to Davy Fitzgerald noted. “He was ecstatic with Wolfe Tones’ winning our first Clare title and we followed up with trip to Croke Park”.

In recent years there has been the added dimension of Colman’s grand-children joining them at games. “My own crew have been swayed by the success of John Kiely’s Limerick,” Damien admitted, “I’ve shown some signs of being upset by it, at 2022 Munster final I threatened they’d have to walk home from it”.

He continued, “Dad was telling me he had strong sense that 2024 was going to be our year, I know he’d be celebrating up in heaven with his Clare flag when Brian (Lohan) who is here and the boys get over the line so I’m sorry to my friends from Limerick the drive for five can wait”.

Damien added, “He was the family rock and we are really going to miss him”. He believed it was poignant that Liam Clancy’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’ played in the background as Colman moved on to his eternal rest, given the efforts Donal had made to be with the family, “Donal flew over and back and over again to be with us over the last two weeks, Dad was delighted you could make it back”. He told his sister that their father would be very proud of her organisational and planning skills as evident in helping to plan the funeral.

“To Mum, you were two sides of the one coin, you worked brilliantly as a team, you were selfless,” Damien stated. The couple were married fifty years and renewed their vows to mark the occasion, “I reckon Dad consciously said there was no way he wasn’t going to make it, it took deep faith and strength to get there,” Damien said.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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