Com­mu­ni­tyGames­founder Li­ly­hada­greatzest­for­life

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

THE peo­ple of Kil­molin and be­yond joined the fam­ily of Lily Ka­vanagh to cel­e­brate her rich life, and ev­ery­thing she did for oth­ers in so many ways dur­ing her busy 92 years.

The award-win­ning Life Pres­i­dent of Wick­low Com­mu­nity Games, Lily Ka­vanagh was born in 1927 in Glen­cullen. She spent most of her life in Wick­low but was al­ways proud of her Dublin roots and, as any­one pass­ing through Kil­molin would learn, she never failed to fly the Dublin flag at Cham­pi­onship time.

To some who knew her she was Lil, to oth­ers Lily, to many Mrs Ka­vanagh, but to her lov­ing fam­ily she was mammy Lil and nana.

She had a very happy child­hood raised with her younger sis­ter Jen­nie by their par­ents James and Jane. From trips to Croke Park with her fa­ther to cy­cling to dances in Round­wood and the Scalp, Lil’s love of sport and her zest for liv­ing was ev­i­dent from an early age.

Her nick­name in those days was ‘Smiler’ and per­haps it was that smile along with her sense of hu­mour which drew her hus­band Robert to her all those years ago.

Lil al­ways spoke of how blessed she was to have met and mar­ried her late hus­band Robert. They went on to have 10 chil­dren and she never took for granted their health and hap­pi­ness. They all adored her, as did her grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren.

With 15 years be­tween Lily’s old­est and youngest, there were just six years when all 10 chil­dren lived un­der the same roof. While things can’t have been easy with that many mouths to feed, Lily and Robert did what needed do­ing with­out an fuss and cre­ated a very lov­ing and se­cure home for all of them.

Sum­mers seemed end­less and full of fun. Days were spent go­ing to the river and the seafront, col­lect­ing what­ever child stuck their head into the car on their way past. They loved their an­nual day out to But­lins with the chil­dren’s favourite bot­tle of fizz and bis­cuits, not to men­tion the trips to the cin­ema or the zoo to cel­e­brate a Con­fir­ma­tion or a Com­mu­nion.

Lily had a won­der­ful sense of com­mu­nity. That was what she was all about and Lil was in­volved in the ICA and Chara­banc, or­gan­is­ing trips to Our Ladies Ire­land and Ox­fam. Of course, she was also one of the founder mem­bers of Com­mu­nity Games in County Wick­low in the early 1970s.

Lil main­tained that she got more than she gave from all of those. She lived for ev­ery day, ev­ery new ex­pe­ri­ence, and meet­ing new peo­ple, young and old.

Whether it was at the finish line in Shil­le­lagh or the side line in Park­nasil­logue, Lil was there to sup­port, en­cour­age and chat to each and ev­ery per­son there.

It was fit­ting that last week­end so many celebrated Lil’s life, as it was al­ways her favourite week­end of the year – the Wick­low Com­mu­nity Games fi­nals.

For over 40 years, Lil trav­elled up glen and down dale from meet­ings in Glen­dalough to gym halls in Ark­low, drinking tea and chat­ting in ev­ery cold com­mu­nity hall this side of Texas.

A lot of peo­ple don’t get to hear how highly re­garded they are in their com­mu­nity, but it was great for both Lil and the fam­ily that she could hear how loved and celebrated she was when she was awarded the Com­mu­nity Games Golden Ju­bilee Vol­un­teer Award in 2017.

For all of her work and ded­i­ca­tion to the com­mu­nity, she was fully sup­ported by her pa­tient hus­band Robert. When asked where Lil was or when she could be ex­pected home, his re­sponse was said to be: ‘Not if I was the wis­est man in Ire­land could I tell you that’.

But Robert knew ex­actly where she was when he needed her most. In his later years, when his eye­sight be­gan to fail, Lil acted as his eyes and ears – not that he was par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the lat­est Com­mu­nity Games AGM. But they were a great team and looked af­ter each other to the very end.

Renowned for her sense of hu­mour, Lil ex­pressed more with a look than she ever needed words to do. Her abil­ity to send peo­ple into con­vul­sions with one look while re­main­ing straight faced her­self was one of her most im­pres­sive tal­ents, and some­thing many of her loved ones fell vic­tim to over the years. This sense of hu­mour and ra­zor sharp wit never left her, and sit­ting around Lil’s kitchen ta­ble was of­ten bet­ter than a night out at the Gai­ety.

Ahead of her time, Lil learned to drive on a trac­tor and was be­hind the wheel un­til the age of 88.

She wanted to learn to text and gave it her best shot. She raised 10 kids while run­ning a shop and also recog­nis­ing the need for a com­mu­nity games in Wick­low.

Lil had so much go in her. She was at­tend­ing matches in Cro­ker well into her 80s to sup­port her beloved Dubs, and of­ten claimed that one of the high­lights of her life was Stephen Clux­ton’s last minute winner against Kerry in 2011. She went home on a high, re-watched the match, and went to bed still able to see the play­ers run­ning around the pitch in her head.

While good it was to see them on the big screen, noth­ing com­pared to meet­ing them in per­son on her own stomp­ing ground. One sum­mer evening, Lil sat at home not feel­ing the best. Sud­denly the phone call came, Heather was at down at the GAA pitch. ‘Are you com­ing down nana?’ ‘Ah I’m not up to it tonight.’ ‘What if I told you the Dubs were about to start train­ing on the pitch?’

‘Rosie get your coat,’ said Lil. And off she went.

She had bril­liant days out with her friends, even the sim­plest trip to Bray to get their hair done and a bite to eat was full of laugh­ter. That was just Lil, she saw the best in ev­ery day and the glass was al­ways half full. If there was one thing to take from her out­look on life, it was try to see the flow­ers rather than the weeds.

So many have lost a dear friend in Lil. She touched so many lives, and in re­turn re­ceived so much from oth­ers. She trusted Dr Matthews fully with her health. Even on her dark days, he gave her the con­fi­dence and abil­ity to con­tinue to fight. Even when her phys­i­cal health de­clined, her mind never got old.

Life al­ways throws up chal­lenges, but Lil showed ev­ery­one how to roll with the punches. Her faith was very strong and how­ever sad they are, her chil­dren can take com­fort that she lived a great life. She gave all she was able to give. Her work here was done and she was ready to re­unite with Robert.

Lily’s fu­neral Mass was celebrated on Sun­day at The Im­mac­u­late Heart of Mary Church in En­niskerry and was fol­lowed by in­ter­ment in St Mo­chonog’s Ceme­tery, Kil­macanogue.

She is sadly missed by her devoted chil­dren Richard, Mar­garet, James, Robby, Noel, Jane, Paul, Rose­mary, Brendan and Gary, sons-in-law, daugh­ters-in-law, grand­chil­dren, great-grand­chil­dren, nieces, nephew, ex­tended fam­ily, neigh­bours and many friends.

The late Lily Ka­vanagh.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.