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served from 1994 to 1997.

‘Jack was very much a mem­ber of Wick­low and of Bless­ing­ton. It was here in the west Wick­low bor­der that him­self and his very close and in­sep­a­ra­ble friend Peter Keogh, who died re­cently, first joined forces, plan­ning the GAA fix­tures of Wick­low.

‘I love a story I am of­ten told about Peter and Jack. Peter drove a steam­roller and Jack was a vet and the two of them would meet. It was never hard to find out where Peter was, Jack used to say. And they would sit and cook tea in a billy can on the side of the road and they would plan the fix­tures for the county.

‘ There was one beau­ti­ful story where one ea­ger and en­thu­si­as­tic club sec­re­tary came to know where they would meet and they were parked in an old, dis­used quarry in west Wick­low and the young sec­re­tary drove up close to where the steam­roller was and was very in­sis­tent that a fix­ture would be changed. There were two old car wrecks dumped in the quarry so when the meet­ing wasn’t go­ing well, Jack got up on the steam­roller, started the steam­roller, pointed to the two cars and told the sec­re­tary that if he didn’t move his car soon that’s where the last two sec­re­taries ended up,’ he said.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said that Jack Booth­man had a way with peo­ple and an earth­i­ness that was renowned.

‘Jack had that earth­i­ness, Jack had that sense of con­nec­tion, Jack had that way with peo­ple. He was eru­dite. He was a man who cer­tainly knew what was hap­pen­ing in the world of the GAA. He was a man of con­nec­tions. It was re­marked this morn­ing that he was the soul of the GAA.

‘It was of­ten said and of­ten quoted by peo­ple in the past, the words of Sea­mus Heaney cer­tainly fit Jack Booth­man, when Heaney told peo­ple to al­ways keep their feet on the ground. Jack Booth­man did that. He was a man of the peo­ple. Long be­fore politicians talked about peo­ple who eat their din­ners in the mid­dle of the day, Jack Booth­man did that, and he con­nected with peo­ple.

‘It was his sense of fun, his sense of hu­mour, and the fact that he sim­ply loved peo­ple, and he knew how to bring them back to earth. He never let any­one run away with them­selves. He was on a visit to Kerry as Pres­i­dent in 1996. Kerry hadn’t won an All-Ire­land in ten years. That was a famine. There was a Ker­ry­man in the com­pany of Jack and he was ad­vis­ing Jack that Wick­low hadn’t won too many all-Ire­lands. And Jack was get­ting a bit tired. The Ker­ry­man fur­ther re­minded him that there was a neigh­boiur in the next parish with two All-Ire­lands, and that was noth­ing.

‘Even­tu­ally Jack snapped when this Ker­ry­man even­tu­ally said to him that, “Jack, up in the grave­yard there’s 16 All-Ire­land medals”. And Jack said, “Well, you bet­ter go up and dig them up so, be­cause you’re get­ting no more”.

‘Jack never liked pa­rades or to high­light or to boast about any­thing. And he cer­tainly never made an is­sue about that fact that he was a mem­ber of the Church of Ire­land. But he was qui­etly con­tent, qui­etly hum­ble, qui­etly at peace. And be­fore we ever used that word “in­clu­siv­ity”, Jack was prac­tis­ing it. We all went to Church of

LEFT: The late Jack Booth­man. GAA Pres­i­dent Aogán Ó Fearghaíl and Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the GAA Páraic Duffy.

Bless­ing­ton GAA Club mem­ber Mick O’Rourke with leg­endary GAA com­men­ta­tor Mícheál Ó Muirc­heartaigh.

For­mer GAA Pres­i­dent Christy Cooney and Alan Smullen.

For­mer GAA Pres­i­dent Sean McCague.

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