Tom Loftus gave lifetime of service to GAA
ONE OF the giants of the GAA, Tom Loftus was laid to rest in Springfield Cemetery, Bray on Wednesday and was accorded a send off befitting a man of his stature, writesPeterKeogh.
In a moving tribute to his great friend, Tom Walsh of Bray said that Tom had served the GAA loyally for over SEVENTY FIVE years.
While that may appear an exaggeration to a casual acquaintance, it was indeed true. From the first time Tom kicked a ball along the streets of his native Roscommon town, to the time, just a short few years ago when he signed his last minute book as secretary of the North/East Juvenile Board in Wicklow, Tom's great love and loyalty was the GAA.
His job with the ESB brought him to Dublin at an early stage where he threw in his lot with Foxrock Geraldines. At the end of his playing days, or even before, he became a prominent referee. Tom, who never drove a car, regularly cycled to venues in the south of the county likeTallaght or Saggart to do a morning match. After lunch he would cycle to the north of the county to do another match.
Tom joined the Dublin Junior Board in 1940; became Vice Chairman in '47; Secretary from '48 to 57; Treasurer from '57 to 61 and Chairman of the County Board from 61 to '68.
In his time as Chairman of the County Board in the 1960's he was the man at the helm when the metropolitans contested their last All-Ireland final in hurling and when they won the Sam Maguire Cup in 1963. He was Dublin's representative on Leinster Council for 25 years.
He was elected Vice Chairman of the Council at the 1969 Convention held in the Arklow Bay Hotel and served as Chairman from 1972 to '74.
Tom was also a candidate for the Presidency of the Association, in fact Jackie Napier, a great admirer of Tom even before he came to live in Wicklow, tells of how on that occasion he drove to Galway to vote for the man even though he had to rush back for his own wedding the next morning.
Tom held many other important positions at all levels. He travelled with the All Stars to San Francisco in 1973. When Tom came to live in retirement in Bray he straight away looked around for ways to become involved in GAA affairs again but far from seeking the limelight picked a job where he could be of most assistance.
He linked up with the Bray Emmets Club and the North Juvenile Board and spent over 20 years promoting the game at that level, first as chairman but then in the more hands-on job of secretary. That was what made Tom Loftus stand out from the pack.
Leinster Council gave their former President a great send off. A guard of honour of Council members flanked one side of the hearse while the Bray Emmets Club marched on the other side. Central Council were represented by Tom Ryan and Jackie Napier while Wicklow County Board and Dublin County Board were also well represented at the graveside. The present Chairman of Leinster Council Martin Skelly gave the graveside oration while the service was conducted by Mons. John O'Connell, retired P.P of Bray.
Leinster Council's Chief executive Michael Delaney, outgoing Chairman Sheamus Howlin, former Chairmen Jim Berry, Albert Fallon and Seamus Aldridge, PRO J.J.Walsh and Pat Toner, Treasurer were among the other members present.
The greatest moment of all came when his great friend and loyal companion Tom Walsh sang 'The West Awake' as a final salute to a great Connaught man.
Will we ever see his like again?