Sean W.H.O’Connor – An appreciation
The townspeople of Castleisland were saddened recently to hear of the passing of Sean O’Connor of Church Street. Sean was a man who loved Castleisland and who contributed in such a generous spirit to the development of the town, in particular to the availability of local amenities. We can be thankful to him for the Riocht track, the Tennis courts, the Rugby pitch, the Pitch and Putt course, the clubhouse and the community centre, all of which would never have happened without his foresight.
Sean was born in Castleisland 94 years ago – he nearly lived a century in the town! From an early age, he was interested in hunting, fishing, hiking and participated in numerous sporting events. It saddened Sean to see so many of his schoolmates being forced to emigrate and this inspired him to further develop Rhyno Mills to the point where a number of locals could be employed and it was a great boost to the farming community in the hinterland. Sean was also a founding member of Castleisland Development Association and Kerry Airport as he recognized the potential to increase the prosperity of the town.
Sean was a great family man and was happily married for 64 years. He often said that he won a lot of prizes in his life but the best prize he every won was the day he met Kathleen his wife. Kathleen was always by his side during both the ups and downs and particularly so during his recent illness. He also had tremendous love for each of his children and grandchildren and was immensely proud of each and every one of them. His family were all so lucky to have shared in the life of this man.
Aside from the wonderful memories he has left his family, he has left the town with a legacy that will endure throughout time. He has shaped the town and laid the foundation for it to become the sporting capital that it is. His first major achievement was the development of the Pitch and Putt Club as a local amenity for young and old. This was followed by the development of the Tennis courts and the clubhouse, which became well known for the snooker and billiards activities that took place there. This was like a second home to Sean.
His generosity and commitment to Castleisland is probably best illustrated by his donation of land for the Community Centre – all for the princely sum of one shilling! Thousands of people over the years have benefited from the social and recreational activities that have been held there.
Both the rugby club and An Ríocht AC were also very fortunate that rather than sell the Crageens for a premium for housing development, Sean was willing to sell it to them for recreational purposes. It was a source of great joy to him to see that An Riocht developed one of the finest sporting facilities in the country there.
It would seem to me that considering all that Sean did for the town, it would be a nice gesture for the people of Castleisland to honour his memory in some way. A fitting tribute to his memory are the words of the Island Man “Ni bheidh a leitheid aris ann”.