Wick­low and Carnew have lost one of their finest men

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - By Jimmy Dunne

A large crowd ar­rived in Carnew and sub­se­quently in To­ma­cork ceme­tery last Thurs­day af­ter­noon to bid farewell to a Wick­low and Carnew GAA leg­end, Jack Kil­bride, who passed away on Mon­day.

Re­mem­bered by some mourn­ers as a true leader and a man who you lis­tened to when he spoke, the turnout at the great man’s fu­neral is tes­ta­ment to the high re­gard and re­spect in which he was held.

Wick­low GAA stal­wart Jimmy Dunne de­liv­ered a beau­ti­ful ora­tion grave­side and to do jus­tice to the mem­ory of Jack Kil­bride we pub­lish it here for you to read.

It is a spe­cial hon­our and a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence to pay tribute to Jack Kil­bride on this sad oc­ca­sion.

It is a spe­cial hon­our be­cause the tribute is di­rected to­wards one of Wick­low’s finest sons, a man whose enor­mous stature will leave a shadow which will linger long and proudly across the fields and hill­sides of his beloved Gar­den County.

It is a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause the sad bur­den which death has laid on his wife and fam­ily, his many col­leagues and his mul­ti­tude of friends has brought home to us once again the enor­mity of just how much Jack meant to Wick­low and Carnew for so many years and equally im­por­tant, how much Wick­low and Carnew meant to Jack all his life.

We know that if there was a sin­gle thread run­ning through that life, a thread which united all dif­fer­ent strands of his being, it was a com­pelling love for his club and county, and its peo­ple which mo­ti­vated him in ev­ery­thing he did.

He gave ex­pres­sion to that love through his com­mit­ment to the Gaelic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion, a com­mit­ment which was to­tal and unswerv­ing, and which cov­ered the en­tire spec­trum of the GAA ac­tiv­i­ties from being a youth­ful player of great skill and tenac­ity, through his years as a stal­wart of his club both on and off the field.

His achieve­ments on the field have been well recorded suf­fice to say since the GAA was es­tab­lished in Wick­low over 133 years ago no player has achieved so much.

He suc­cess­fully cap­tained his club to every ma­jor adult com­pe­ti­tion in both hurl­ing and foot­ball and cap­tained his club to both se­nior ti­tles in 1973. His record for the county is equally im­pres­sive. He wore the Blue and Gold of Wick­low with dis­tinc­tion for many years win­ing Le­in­ster hon­ours in 1964.

But if medals were all that mat­tered then we would not be here in such num­bers today to hon­our the mem­ory of Jack Kil­bride.

As proud as he was of his medals and his play­ing achieve­ments, he was prouder still of his club and his par­ish and of the men and women who held to the val­ues he cher­ished, who shared his ad­vice and whom he was proud to rep­re­sent at County Board level.

When he re­ceived the Wick­low Hall of Fame in 2007 he ac­knowl­edged it was as much for his club as it was for him.

He was Chair­man of the County Hurl­ing Board for three years and was a mem­ber of the County Board for over two decades where his con­tri­bu­tions were al­ways pos­i­tive and re­spected.

He was also Chair­man of his club where his en­thu­si­asm and lead­er­ship were cru­cial in many of the clubs great­est vic­to­ries. His in­fec­tious pas­sion was cor­ralled by the gen­eros­ity of his spirit and be­cause he was such a gen­uinely fine man, play­ers re­sponded to him and he got the best out of them.

Through Jack’s mu­si­cal abil­ity and Et­tie’s tal­ent for writ­ing and bal­lad sign­ing they trav­elled all over Le­in­ster vis­it­ing the “House of Sto­ries” where they con­tributed to many a night’s en­ter­tain­ment.

These of course are the pub­lic acts of ser­vice for which Jack was widely known and ad­mired. But there was also the ded­i­ca­tion of the pri­vate man.: a con­tri­bu­tion which may not win pub­lic ac­claim but which of­ten of­fers a more ac­cu­rate as­sess­ment of a man’s true worth.

Many peo­ple in Carnew and the sur­round­ing area will tes­tify to the fact that you could not have a bet­ter neigh­bour than Jack and a more will­ing hand in times of trou­ble, and more ready to share ones’ joys in good times and of­fer sup­port when needed.

Jack was a man of strong faith, dig­nity and sin­cer­ity, born out of the brown earth of the Gar­den County to which we have re­turned his mor­tal re­mains, and over which his spirit will long re­main.

We have lost a col­league, a men­tor and a friend, and we mourn his pass­ing. How great then is his depar­ture from the peo­ple he loved most of all, his wife Et­tie, and his fam­ily, of whom he was so proud.

They were the core of his life, the cen­tre­piece around which his work re­volved and with­out whom he would not have been the man we knew re­spected and ad­mired.

They alone will mea­sure the real loss of the man they knew from the fam­ily cir­cle, which pros­pered out of mu­tual re­spect which they shared with one other. The beau­ti­ful, mag­nif­i­cent way in which the fam­ily cared for Jack through­out his ill­ness re­flected the good­ness of the man him­self, and gave him the in­ner peace which he de­served.

We are all here today be­cause we share the sor­row of the fam­ily. His wife Et­tie, his son De­nis daugh­ters Deirdre and Maeve along his sis­ter Breda and many other fam­ily mem­bers.

In one way or an­other we were all made bet­ter by hav­ing Jack Kil­bride walk amongst us and by shar­ing his friend­ship.

That great Ir­ish Poet Siger­son Clif­ford wrote:

When the wheel of life runs out and peace comes over me

Just take me back to that old town be­tween the hills and sea.

I’ll take my rest in those green fields, the place where life be­gan

With the boys from Bárr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

Slán agus go raibh míle maith agat a Shéan.

May the green sod of his na­tive Wick­low rest lightly on his bo­som.

Jack Kil­bride, front cen­tre, pic­tured in The Lodge in Carnew among the men and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the men he led to the his­toric se­nior dou­ble in 1973. The late Jack was cap­tain of both the hurl­ing and foot­ball teams in that mem­o­rable year.

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