Racer Richie had real pas­sion for fast cars

HE BE­CAME A PHO­TOG­RA­PHER AND A MARKS­MAN

Bray People - - KILMACANOGUE DIARY -

THE RE­CENT death of Richie Con­roy was re­ceived with great sad­ness by his fam­ily and vast cir­cle of friends.

His funeral mass was cel­e­brated by his brother Christy, O. Carm., at the Holy Redeemer Church, Bray ac­com­pa­nied by Fr. Robert Col­cough PP Bray, Fr. Mc­Cabe, army chap­lain Cathal Brugha bar­racks, Fr. P Gal­lagher, O. Carm., Fr. M Cremin, O. Carm., and Fr. R. Cun­ning­ham, O. Carm..

The cof­fin, draped in the Tri­colour, was car­ried to and from the church by sol­diers of the Ir­ish army.

A long line of Mor­gan cars fol­lowed the cortege re­splen­dent in their bright colours. He was buried in the fam­ily grave at Rath­drum Ceme­tery.

He is pre­de­ceased by his par­ents Ed­ward and Kath­leen and his older brothers Ed­die and Davy.

Ed­die was killed in a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent at Laragh in 1950. Davy also died as a re­sult of a mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dent which oc­curred many years be­fore his death.

Richie was born at the Copse, Rath­drum in 1936 and grew up in the war years.

The war came sud­denly to Rath­drum on Oc­to­ber 25, 1940, when a Ger­man plane dropped bombs in the garden of Copse House and the sur­round­ing coun­try­side. Richie was at home alone with his mother at the time when the house be­gan to shake.

His mother quickly took him in her arms and be­gan to run ter­ri­fied to­ward Rath­drum.

She thought the Ger­mans had landed. Along the way she met Mr. Con­roy and a group of L.D.F. men coming out to in­ves­ti­gate the bomb­ing.

They dis­cov­ered a line of bomb craters down the val­ley, and the hill on the far side of the river ablaze from the in­cen­di­ary bombs.

The lights in Rath­drum and sur­round­ing towns were ex­tin­guished but by now the Ger­man plane was prob­a­bly back in Ger­many.

Richie’s brothers, Davy and Christy, were at a con­cert in Rath­drum and even­tu­ally made their way home in the dark.

Richie at­tended the Na­tional School on the fair­green in Rath­drum, walking from the Copse ev­ery day. There were no cars in those days.

He com­pleted his sec­ondary school ed­u­ca­tion by cy­cling to the De La Salle Col­lege in Wicklow town. Richie was happy to see the end of his school days and went to work at the Avoca Mines.

He took up pho­tog­ra­phy and cov­ered many wed­dings around Rath­drum.

He also cov­ered im­por­tant events, in­clud­ing the Or­di­na­tion of his brother Christy.

He took a beau­ti­ful photo of Pres­i­dent Ea­mon and Sinead de Valera kneel­ing to re­ceive Christy’s first Bless­ing.

He also took pho­tos at the wed­ding of Sean Le­mass. Later he went back to work at Gould­ings fer­tiliser on the Mur­rough.

Richie had two great pas­sions in life, cars and the army.

His love of cars be­gan at the Copse when al­most be­fore he could walk he sat for hours in the Arm­strong Si­d­ley in the garage driv­ing all over the coun­try.

Be­fore he left school he had al­ready made his first midget car and prac­ticed all around the field s at the Copse.

From midget car rac­ing he pro­gressed to hill climbs with his co-pi­lot Frank Nu­tall from Round­wood. Next he moved to road rac­ing.

In 1968 he mar­ried Lyla Clarke at the Church of the Holy Rosary, Ash­ford. The next day, on his hon­ey­moon, he raced his 1.5 litre Buck­ler-Ford at Mon­dello Park.

His favourite race was at the Phoenix Park which he ea­gerly looked for­ward to ev­ery year. When he re­tired he de­voted him­self to his beloved two seater Mor­gan and at­tended Mor­gan ral­lies on the con­ti­nent. His prize pos­ses­sion was his three Mor­gan cars.

His love of guns also be­gan at the Copse. From a young age he roamed the sur­round­ing woods with a .22 ri­fle look­ing for rab­bits, wood pi­geons, pheas­ants and deer. Th­ese were the sources of his pocket money each week. Sun­day af­ter­noons were spent tar­get shoot­ing. He soon be­came a marks­man with the gun. He joined the F.C.A. and won many medals for shoot­ing. He was soon co-opted into the army to train the shoot­ing teams. He was sta­tioned at Cathal Brugha bar­racks and brought groups to the Cur­ragh for shoot­ing prac­tice. He also took charge of the F.C.A. unit in Wicklow town and is re­mem­bered fondly. He also trained a unit in Rath­drum.

Richie had a won­der­ful out­look on life and lived ev­ery­day to the full. He loved telling sto­ries re­count­ing his many ex­ploits in life. He en­joyed the ca­ma­raderie of army life and missed it when he re­tired.

Two years ago he con­tracted can­cer and en­dured his ill­ness with great for­ti­tude. May he rest in peace.

The late Richie Con­roy with one of his early rac­ing cars.

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