My family lost a great man this week. My dear cousin John Joe Noone, 74, of Carrick-On-Shannon, Ireland, died suddenly August 21, of complications during heart surgery.
I met John Joe twenty years ago during my first trip home to Ireland to search for my mother’s relatives. Armed only with a camera and my grandmother’s birth certificate, I walked around town until I found Cryan’s Pub where I began asking questions of the locals. John Joe Noone and his wife Mary, son John and daughters Virginia and Eithna were the first cousins I met, and they welcomed me into their home and their lives and introduced me to more of my Irish cousins.
What I found were not long lost relatives, but my mother’s first cousins. John Joe, Vivienne Taylor, Eamonn Reynolds, Frank Keane and others were direct links to my grandmother Frances Keane Riley, who I had never met. It turned out that I even had many more cousins closer to my own age.
John Joe was 54 when I met him. A farmer all his life, I don’t think I ever saw him without his rubber work boots on. In his youth, he was a brilliant Gaelic footballer and I well remember him sitting in front of his black and white TV watching matches called in Gaelic. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a kind word on his lips to everyone he met.
The last thing he said to me on my trip to Ireland in June 2012 was “I hope I’m still alive the next time you come home to Ireland.”
Farewell John Joe, we will miss you.
slán a fhágáil mo chara