A Fond Grand-Daughter’s Eulogy for Sonny

The late Patrick ‘Sonny’ O’Reilly and his funeral cortege paused outside his home on College Road on its way to Kilbanivane on February 8th. ©Photographs: John Reidy
Michael Reidy (left) with Jim Greaney and Sonny O’Reilly setting out from Barrack Street as eager participants in a ‘Fancy Dress Parade’ in Castleisland in September 1952. Photograph: Joe O’Reilly. Developing and printing by Danny Sheehy, Church Street.

On his month’s mind we remember the late Patrick ‘Sonny’ O’Reilly through the fond memories of his grand-daughter Carol Lane.

Carol received a resounding round of applause when she delivered the eulogy with great clarity and assurance at Sonny’s funeral Mass this time last month. She titled her tribute to her grand-dad simply and without fuss and that in itself summed him up and perfectly captured the very essence of the man.

Sonny’s Eulogy

Born on July 24th. 1925, Patrick, better known to us all as Sonny, was one of eight children born to parents Paddy and Johanna O’Reilly of Barrack Street.

By: Carol Lane

Castleisland was his home from the beginning to the end and from a young age, Sonny spent many a day at his father’s workshop on Church Lane, learning the trade of a stonemason.

A talented man with a chisel and hammer in hand, Sonny worked tirelessly no matter the weather nor time and mastered his craft of inscription by hand, with precision and patience.

Sonny took enormous pride in his work and his talent and craftsmanship was passed down the generations to each of the O’Reilly men who continue his legacy in monumental work today.

Crossing Paths with Lily

It was Sonny’s work that fatefully led him to cross paths with his soul mate Lily. Little did they know in their early days of courting of the wonderful life they would build together.

On the 12th February 1955, the pair were wed with the vow to always love and honour one another. The celebrations that followed the ceremony saw renowned musician Pádraig O’Keefe greet the newlyweds on arrival at Jack Lyons’ Pub in Scartaglen where he set the scene for a marriage that promised to be filled with song, dance and laughter.

Life on Creamery Lane

The newlyweds began their life together on Creamery Lane where they started their family and eventually residing in their forever home of No. 5 College Road with their nine children, five sons and four daughters.

This busy household was balanced by Sonny’s calming and gentle presence.

Sonny’s love for family grew more when a new generation was born into the home with the arrival of his first grandchild, his Dan.

Dan was the first of 23 grandchildren and in later years, it was he who honoured Sonny with the title of great- grandfather for the first time, a title very fitting for the great and grand man that our Sonny was.

Very Fond Memories

We each hold very fond memories of Sonny who right up until the final days of his 98th year, sat by the fireside with a cup of tea in one hand and a cigarette in the other, singing songs and telling tales of days gone by.

On February 5th Sonny died peacefully and his passing reunites him with all the loved ones gone before him. His beloved Lily, his grandson Patrick and his great grandson baby Sonny.

98 years of a life well lived is difficult to capture in words and the true essence of his character cannot be described.

Sonny’s Legacy

Sonny’s legacy lives on in the memories of all those who knew and loved him, in particular for his nine children, 23 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren, each of whom were blessed to grow up under the grace and guidance of this remarkable man.

On behalf of the family, I would like to thank you all for joining us here today to celebrate Sonny’s life.

We thank the wonderful neighbours, friends and extended family for their support and kindness over the past few days, with a special thanks to Eileen Cronin for leading the Rosary for us.

A Send-Off He Deserved

We thank all those involved in the funeral arrangements, to our uncle James for going above and beyond to ensure that Sonny received the send off he deserves, we thank you.

We thank Daffy funeral directors for working closely with James to achieve this. We thank Helen Lyons for the music at the ceremony here today and to Fr. Brick and his team for leading us in bidding Sonny a fond farewell.

And finally, the most important thank you of all.. Sonny, we thank you.. for all the love you shared, the joy you brought and the wisdom you imparted, you have touched our lives so deeply and will be truly missed by all. Until we meet again, may you rest in peace.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

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