The death has occurred of William ‘Willie’ O’Brien (61) No.1 A St.Stephen’s Park, Castleisland, Co.Kerry.
September 10th 2017, peacefully. Sadly missed by his loving wife Frances, sons, daughters, grandchildren, brother, sisters ,all extended family, relatives and friends.
May His Gentle Soul Rest In Peace.
I have two abiding memories of Willie O’Brien. The first is at the back room of Joe McCarthy’s Bar during the halcyon days of the Astor Ballroom and the weekly Wednesday night dances.
Roly Daniels Fan
Willie was a huge Roly Daniels fan and his song was one of his idol’s greatest hits called ‘Hello Darlin.’
Willie would prompt whoever would be playing the pre-dance gig at The Hideout that he was game to sing.
He would be duly called upon and in a kind of feigned reluctance would make his way to the stage.
A stunning looking young man at the time, in a three-piece suit, he would take the mic. He had all the moves to go with the mood and the music. He’d start off with his back turned on his audience and slowly swivel as the song unwound.
One February Afternoon
My other memory of him was of an evening that made the hair stand on the back of my neck.
He called for me one February afternoon in 1993 and asked me if I’d go on a journey with him later on as there was something he wanted me to photograph.
He collected me at the appointed time and we drove to the viewing park at Glounsharoon where his parents, brothers, sisters and cousins were waiting.
We got out of the van and he, apparently appointed to carry out the deed, proceeded to drench it with petrol inside and out. Then he attacked it with a hatchet as part of a traveller ritual.
Van Set Ablaze
The van was the one in which his brother, Michael Martin O’Brien lost his life the previous week.
Eventually, as darkness fell, the van was set ablaze and the females present began a kind of keening that went in and out through me.
Like in the song, there was something in the air that night, that freezing February night in 1993.
May God be good to him.
Reposing at Tangney’s Funeral Home Castleisland on Wednesday evening from 4pm to 6pm followed by removal to Castleisland Parish Church.
Requiem Mass on Thursday at 11am.
Burial afterwards in St. John’s Cemetery, Castleisland with full ritualistic honours of horse and carriage drawn hearse.
Date Published: Tuesday 12th September 2017. Date of Death: Sunday 10th September 2017.
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