Wexford People - - NEWS - By DAVID TUCKER


THE death of the ir­re­place­able, larger-than-life Frank Sin­nott, one of the best-known char­ac­ters in Wex­ford, came as a shock to a town well used to his boom­ing voice, cut­ting-edge hu­mour and keen eye.

Mu­sic and snooker pro­moter, mu­si­cian, jour­nal­ist, poet and au­thor, Frank was found dead in his flat in John’s Gate Street last Tues­day night. He was just 65 and would have been 66 in Novem­ber.

His death fol­lows that of his brother Mau­rice at the age of 68 in Jan­uary and his mother Marie at the age of 99, just 30 min­utes be­fore Mau­rice’s fu­neral.

Frank was shaken to the core by his mother’s pass­ing.

As he him­self put it at the time: ‘Mau­rice’s death was very sad, but my mother’s was a dis­as­ter’.

He is sur­vived by his brother De­clan and a wide cir­cle of fam­ily and friends.

Every­one knew Frank, but rel­a­tively few peo­ple knew him well, al­though ‘al­most every­one’ has a Frank story to tell, from buy­ing scratch cards from him to lis­ten­ing to his many sto­ries... and there were many.

One who knew Frank bet­ter than most, De­nis Collins, said he had known him for more than 40 years and found it hard to be­lieve he would no longer be walk­ing down past the gallery on the way down Rowe Street into town as he had for many years.

‘He lived in Peter’s Square and I lived in Water­loo Road and used to pass his house ev­ery day on the way to school,’ said De­nis. who at that time played in a tra­di­tional mu­sic group and, as did many other bud­ding mu­si­cians in Wex­ford at the time, drew on Frank’s for­mi­da­ble tal­ents as a gui­tar teacher.

‘He cre­ated a per­sona for him­self...how he pre­sented him­self to the world, he was a mu­si­cian, a news­pa­per­man, a pro­moter and was good at all of them,’ he said.

De­nis re­called that Frank lit­er­ally ran his of­fice from the phonebox on the cor­ner of Roche’s Road and Peter’s Square, and when the phone rang, peo­ple would go to his house to tell him there was a call for him.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Padraig Grant said Frank would be sorely missed in his cir­cle at The Red Ket­tle and in Rowe Street.

‘He’s pretty much the only other per­son I could talk to about cricket. He had a se­cret pas­sion for the game and ab­so­lutely loved it. He was de­lighted when Ire­land was elavated to test sta­tus this year,’ said Padraig.

‘Ev­ery­body I met in town was talk­ing about Frank to­day. Wex­ford is go­ing to be a very quiet place with­out him.’

A pho­to­graph of Frank in his of­fice taken by Padraig in 1988 will be pub­lished in his new book ‘Padraig Grant’s Wex­ford - Part 2’ and had al­ready been se­lected for in­clu­sion.

‘I hadn’t told Frank he’d made the book be­cause I know how much he liked see­ing him­self in print! I was go­ing to sur­prise him with it,’ said Padraig.

Last Wed­nes­day, as news of Frank’s pass­ing spread, so­cial me­dia was soon flooded with trib­utes to a man who had no peers in the town he had not ven­tured far from for decades.

A few weeks ago, he was en­ter­tain­ing the crowds in the Bull­ring with De­clan at a fundrais­ing gig for Pi­eta House and Wex­ford Women’s Refuge.

What­ever was go­ing on in the town, Frank would know all about it and was ever-present in Rowe Street, even un­mis­tak­ably ap­pear­ing on Google Street View, recog­nis­able de­spite his face be­ing ob­scured in the web im­age.

Every­one knew Frank. Among his clos­est friends were Ge­orge Lawlor, Paul, in the Bank, Cather­ine, in Mary’s Bar, Nicky Mur­phy, the taxi driver, Mick O’Brien, in Snip­pets, the late Fa­ther Fritz in the Fri­ary, the late Fr Tom Flana­gan, head of the Cop­tic re­li­gion in Ire­land, the late Col­man Doyle, whose jumper he lam­pooned in his Odds and Sods news­pa­per col­umns and the late Fergie Ke­hoe, restau­rant owner and coun­cil­lor.

Nicky Fur­long, his­to­rian and au­thor, de­scribed him as a 21st Cen­tury Cicero.

He had a num­ber of reg­u­lar haunts around Wex­ford town.

In re­cent years, one of the ta­bles out­side the Red Ket­tle in Mallin Street and those at Cap­puc­cino’s on the cor­ner of Rowe Street and Main Street were of­ten graced with his pres­ence.

He fre­quented both, a cigarette and cup of cof­fee in hand as he sur­veyed the world go­ing by, loudly aim­ing jibes and com­ments, of­ten caus­tic, but al­ways good hu­moured, at those who knew and en­treaties to­wards those he would like to.

Woe be­tide any­one who com­plained about his vi­did and frank de­scrip­tions of them in his writ­ings for his var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions, be­cause he would re­tort that ‘you bet­ter shut up, or I’ll write some­thing worse next week’.

‘He liked small women, crisps and horses, but not in that or­der,’ said one among a group of Frank fans gath­ered at the Red Ket­tle fol­low­ing news of his death.

While mu­sic - al­ways his pas­sion - dom­i­nated much of his life, in re­cent years Frank brought for­mer snooker greats, in­clud­ing Jimmy White and De­nis Tay­lor, to the town.

In the 1970s, along with Lor­can En­nis, Frank was one of the or­gan­is­ers of the Fes­ti­val of Liv­ing Mu­sic, which at­tracted some of the top acts of the day, The Strawbs, Rick Wake­man, Fair­port Con­ven­tion and Horslips, in which his brother De­clan was then a gui­tarist.

Frank was very well known in the town as a gui­tar teacher and in re­cent times had been try­ing to re­vive this as­pect of an eclec­tic ca­reer that in­cluded at one time the own­er­ship and ed­i­tor­ship of ‘The Boker’ free news­pa­per, which he set up in 1982 and sold to Peo­ple News­pa­pers a few years later.

In the late 1980s Frank set up a new free sheet, The New Wex­ford Gazette, pulling in a sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue. How­ever in 1992 Frank be­came too ill to run the pub­li­ca­tion and it folded.

Later, he wrote for the County Wex­ford Free Press and was a fre­quent caller to many friends and ac­quain­tances he wanted to ad­ver­tise in it.

Frank wrote four books, ‘View from a Bridge,’

‘View from a

Bridge Vol­ume 2’ and two vol­umes of ‘Frank Sin­nott’s Book of Jokes’ and co-wrote Fr Fritz’s book Love from Zamiba.

A stu­dent of Wex­ford CBS, Frank pub­lished his first poem when he was just 14 years old. ‘An Ode to Bifra’ was pub­lished in the Evening Her­ald and see­ing his poem in print for the first time af­firmed a love of writ­ing that was to re­main with him all his life.

Dur­ing his jour­nal­is­tic ca­reer, Frank in­ter­viewed many of Wex­ford’s lead­ing cre­atives in­clud­ing play­wright Billy Roche and mu­si­cian Pierce Turner.

At his fu­neral Mass in the Church of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion in Rowe Street on Fri­day, his brother De­clan spoke mov­ingly to an at­ten­dance which in­cluded Bishop De­nis Bren­nan and many of the town’s busi­ness own­ers, celebs and char­ity vol­un­teers. In be­tween sad sobs, De­clan, a

na­tion­ally and

in­ter­na­tion­ally-ac­claimed mu­si­cian, spoke about ‘his lit­tle brother Frank’ and how he was ‘Frank’s big brother, Dekkie’. They ‘grew up to­gether and went through unimag­in­ably, un­think­able hard times.

Said De­clan, ‘A hard time, a very hard time. Unimag­in­ably hard time. It shaped him in all kinds of ways; his re­silience and his re­fusal to let it get to him is just un­be­liev­able.

‘He be­came some­thing that his fa­ther could never imag­ine, [I don’t know] how he would man­age, but he did. He seemed to know ev­ery­body on a one to one ba­sis. He knew ev­ery­body on a per­sonal ba­sis. He knew the whole town on that ba­sis.

‘My re­la­tion­ship with him – I was his big brother. Right from the be­gin­ning, all the way through I never be­came any­thing ex­cept his big brother and he was my lit­tle brother. We wouldn’t talk for months some­times. He would say some­thing and that’d be it. We’d make a phone call and wouldn’t know what hap­pened. We’d un­der­stand each other. On we’d go from there. We’d un­der­stand we were stupid.’

De­clan said the last time he met Frank was when he had played at the Arts Cen­tre.

‘That af­ter­noon, he sug­gested that we go down- there was a ben­e­fit in the mar­ket in the Bull­ring- for the Women’s Refuge. Frank asked me would I come down and sing a few songs. And I said I would if you will.

‘Even­tu­ally, he came in and said yes. We hadn’t sung to­gether for years. We were in a group to­gether years ago called Ta­pes­try and we recorded a cou­ple of songs. The first time I was in a record­ing stu­dio was record­ing two songs writ­ten by Pierce Turner and Larry Kir­wan. We’d al­ways do a Si­mon and Gar­funkel song or what­ever.

‘So, we went down to the Bull­ring. I pulled out the gui­tar and started to play. A hand­ful of peo­ple. It was won­der­ful. A lot of peo­ple took fright. Frank was wrong in the first cho­rus, wrong in the sec­ond cho­rus, in the third cho­rus, in the fourth cho­rus. We just prayed. It was so Frank. He’ll be missed by the town.’

Dur­ing the Mass, De­clan with gui­tar, ac­com­pa­nied by his part­ner Vickie on back­ing vo­cals, sang the Bob Dy­lan song, ‘I Shall be Re­leased’.

Bishop De­nis told the con­gre­ga­tion of how, when he ar­rived in the sac­risty for the fu­neral, he met Frank Flana­gan who was Eucharis­tic Min­is­ter at the Mass.

The bishop told him: ‘Frank would be de­lighted you’re here’. ‘Dur­ing Mass it oc­curred to me that Frank used to re­fer to Frank Flana­gan as “the Pope.” So Frank has the Bishop and the Pope at his fu­neral. That should ap­peal to his im­pre­sario in­stincts,’ said Bishop De­nis.

‘Since Frank left us on Wed­nes­day morn­ing many peo­ple have spo­ken about his life and times. I don’t need to re­peat any of that to­day. ‘All I want to say is that when Frank called up to Bishop’s House, which he did from time to time, (and) if he was here now he would prob­a­bly say “you’re ru­in­ing my rep­u­ta­tion as a rock and roller”. He used to am­bush me in Mallin Street; it was al­ways hard to get past the Red Ket­tle with­out an au­di­ence with Frank. He al­ways left me with a smile on my face. I’m sure I’m not the only one here to­day who can say that and it’s a lovely thing to be able to say about some­body at the end of their earthly pil­grim­age,’ said the Bishop, who con­cel­e­brated the Mass with Fr James Cullen.

Speak­ing to this news­pa­per af­ter his brother’s fu­neral, De­clan said that every­one in Wex­ford ‘knew the en­tity that was Frank, but what I know and they don’t know is what formed him when he was very young. It never broke his spirit.’

Bishop De­nis Bren­nan gives a bless­ing out­side Rowe Street church af­ter Frank Sin­nott’s fu­neral Mass.

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