NEWS OF the passing of Michael Howlin (61) of Winningtown, Saltmills, New Ross was met with immense sadness by all those who knew him. Michael passed away surrounded by his loving family in University Hhospital Waterford on November 11.
A native of Kilmore Quay, Michael was born on April 5, 1956; he was the youngest of 12 children born to Thomas and Kathleen. As a young boy, he was educated at Kilmore National School and went on to complete his second level education at Bridgetown Vocational School. Michael was remembered as ‘an extremely bright young fellow and a very fine craftsman throughout his schooling’.
‘Admiration’ and ‘strength’ are words that eminently emerge in the minds of those who knew Michael.
Michael’s family admired him in many ways but most significantly for the devoted love and commitment he held for his wife Catherine or “Cathy, his angel” as he so often referred to her. They first met in Kelly’s Hotel, Rosslare almost 40 years ago. Michael, a hugely handsome man with a fondness for dancing could have easily been described as a young John Travolta of his day and Cathy was his dancing queen. They were the perfect duo. They immediately fell deeply in love and were married within that very year, at which point Michael left Kilmore Quay and started a life and family of his own in Winningtown, Saltmills.
Mick and Cathy were happily married for over 38 years and his love for her and their four children was immeasurable.
His children Frank, Michelle, Roseleen and Darina admired him greatly because of the kind of father he was to them. He was a proud family man who worked hard to support his family and always encouraged them to be the best that they could be.
Michael also instilled in his family a core value system that defined who he was - a man who was extremely hard working, who honoured commitment, who had integrity, who was a resilient, and extremely brave and courageous man with an incomparable strength and willpower like no other. He was a mighty man with a mighty heart.
Michael will be fondly remembered as being a knowledgeable and well-read man with a vast skill set; his knowledge and interests spanned the areas of local history, horticulture and gardening, archaeology, carpentry, marine life and construction to name but a few, and he had the ability to perfect anything he turned his hand to, such was his diligent and skilful nature.
Michael began his working life as a fisherman in Kilmore Quay. In later life, he turned his hand to construction, excavation and the restoration of many historical sites around the county including the local historical landmark, Duncannon Fort. His passion led him to deliver guided tours around the sites at which he excelled, so much so, that he even appeared on TV doing this job. He had a great interest in Local Government and politics like his late father Cllr. Tommy Howlin, of whom he was immensely proud.
Michael’s working life was a great success; whether it was physical or academic, he mastered it. Family and friends described him as ‘the ultimate business man with the aptitude of a human calculator’.
Michael was also a very accomplished sports man. He was an ‘Anchor Man’ in Kilmore’s notorious All Ireland Tug of War team - a true reflection of the type of person Michael was - strong and supportive in every aspect of his life.
Michael was also a superb athlete and won many a competitive race. As a young man, he entered the Kilmore Mile every year ‘just to win it for the craic’. He also had a great love of boxing. A gifted boxer, he had speed, power and skill – he was unstoppable. At 17, he boxed in an exhibition fight against an Olympic boxer who admitted defeat, throwing in the towel.
Sporting pundits believed he would have had the quality to box at an elite level, evidenced by the many trophies and medals to match his achievements.
Michael’s big hearted presence will be missed by many.
Friends will miss his storytelling and his organic jokes, his hilarious impersonations, infectious humour and his company. Michael was a great talker and singer and whenever he attended family gatherings, he could be heard at decibels above everyone else; he was, without doubt, the life and soul of a party.
Michael’s wife, Catherine will miss having her best friend, protector and husband by her side.
At his funeral mass, Michael’s son Frank and daughter Michelle said: ‘We have a million memories and anecdotes of my dad; some will sadly fade away with time. However his legacy of loving support, respect and fierce devotion will continue to send ripples through our lives and if we honour this legacy, the lives of generations to come. We will miss our father, the source of our convictions. We will miss our inspiration. We love you dad and always will.’
Michael’s Requiem Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Don Kenny St. James’ Ramsgrange. Also present on the altar was Fr. McGrath, former P.P. Sacred Heart Church, Newbawn and Fr. Caulfield P.P. St Peter’s Church, Kilmore Quay.
The readers were Michael’s son in law, Barry and Michael’s sister, Rose; Prayers of the Faithful were recited by his brother, Noel, sisters Deirdre and Josephine and niece, Elizabeth. Symbols signifying Michael’s life were brought to the altar by Michael’s family and friends.
The large crowds who attended his funeral were testament to the affection and respect in which he was held by all who knew him.
Music played a big part in the service with the sombre occasion further underlined by a rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ on bagpipes as Michael was laid to rest in the adjoining ceremony.
Michael’s heartbroken family would like to express their sincere gratitude for the many thoughts, prayers and well wishes they have received over the past few weeks.
He is deeply mourned and sadly missed by his beloved wife Catherine; his son, Frank; daughters, Michelle, Roseleen and Darina; his son-in-law Barry; Sabrina and Darragh; mother in law, Elizabeth; brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and a wide circle of good neighbours and friends.
His months mind will be celebrated on Saturday, December 9 at 7 p.m. in ‘Our Lady’ Star of the Sea Church, Duncannon.
Michael’s warm and caring presence will endure in the hearts of his family and friends forever.
May he Rest in Peace.
The late Michael Howlin.