JACK HAD A WAY WITH PEOPLE ANDD SENSE OF FUNUN
FAMILY, FRIENDS AND GAA BRETHERN BID FAREWELL TO FORMER GAA PRESIDENT
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.