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In Memory of Malachy Tighe

Malachy Tighe

 

What does one say about a man like Malachy Tighe. There are hundreds of people from all over Ireland and elsewhere who will have many tales and stories about the man they knew, loved and respected. In this short biography we have only room for a few of the things that we can recall in an effort to show the long, full life that he led.

Early Life – He was born in 1922 the second child of five children, three sisters and two brothers. Their life was not easy, especially after the mother and father passed on when their children were still very young. But at the age of 10 or 11 years old Malachy stepped up to the mark and became head of the family, the main breadwinner and support. He told us many times that he had “wrought hard from when he was only a boy.” It was something that he looked back on with a certain sense of pride and achievement, driving a horse and cart full of hay, turf or other things from the tender age of nine or ten years.

He talked many times of the hardships he faced in those days and related many stories of the good times. Malachy told the story of going to school with his lunch, which was usually soda bread and butter. One day the other pupils gathered around him astonished by the fact that Malachy Tighe had fruit in his soda bread. What Malachy did not tell them that the black dots on his bread was drops of soot that had come down upon the baking bread from the chimney. Having fruit in your soda bread was a sign of affluence in those days.

It was as a young man that his love of Gaelic Football began and through it his love of the “Wolfe Tones” Club in Derrymacash. He played for the Tones at senior and underage level before moving away to play senior football for Tullylish. Malachy said that he was such good footballer that he was head hunted by the men from County Down. Perhaps it was the opportunity he gave Tullylish after he met Rose Campbell at a Ceilidh in Tullylish and used to cycle from Derrymacash to see her. From that moment a close family circle was forged between the Campbell's of Tullylish, the McCartans of Lawrencetown, and the Tighes of the Palms.

Malachy married Rose in August 1951 and they went to Bray for their honeymoon. However, Tullylish was in the county final that week and Malachy was not about to miss that. He and Rose travelled from Bray to allow him to play in the final, which Tullylish won, and then the happy couple immediately went back to Bray. That's dedication for you and he was proud to have won a  Championship medal for two different counties. But he never forgot that he was an Armagh man.

Family Man - Malachy was a proud family man with strong traditional values that he passed on to his children, each of whom he loved deeply. He would like to think that he was the boss but like most of us men he gave way to "The Bride" in many things while he worked hard to feed and clothe his children one of whom, Rose, died in infancy. The couple were devastated by this loss, but joy returned when, in 1964, Malachy was born to them.

Malachy had worked for the Turley family from he was a young man, on the farm and in the pig factory, until the factory closed in the 1970s. He loved working in Turleys, where he met many great and long lasting friends. His main job in later years was as the man who would grade the pigs and ensure the farmers kept to their quota. Not surprisingly he got to know all the farmers and occasionally, as a favour, allow them over their quota. Maybe that's where he learned the habit of wearing the cap and letting the lit cigarette dangle on his lower lip.

After Turleys closed he moved on to "Goodyear" with the same work ethic, that served him well. Those who knew him well in "Goodyear" would say that "Malachy Tighe would work the minute's silence." He was a man who prided himself on being punctual for his shifts and never took time off for sickness. In fact he was never with a doctor until about eight years ago, and he continued part-time work until he was eighty years old or more. (That's true, I'm Not Codding ye!)

In 1986 he was devastated at the loss of his beloved wife Rose, after whose death he filled his life with volunteering for his much loved Wolf Tones, becoming Treasurer, Secretary, and Chairperson over the years that followed. He helped out at the club with the opening of the new fields and clubhouse, as well as being heavily involved in coaching and mentoring at every age group within the Wolf Tones. Malachy would travel the country bringing children to games and, very often, the host team would be mystified at how so many children could fit into his car! In recent years his name became synonymous with the Wolfe Tone Lotto, personally bringing in a couple of hundred ticket sales every week. Two years ago he won the Jackpot, but the generosity of the man and his love for the club shone through as he donated a considerable amount of his winnings to buy a new set of Jerseys for the underage teams. In the Wolfe Tones Club he is and will remain a legend.

He enjoyed the company of his brother, Mick, with whom he established a partnership erecting fences and laying paths. There are many of these still standing in the country to be admired. He loved cars of all kinds and prided himself on his choice of automobile, often telling people that he was the first man in Derrymacash to have a car. And those were the days before you needed a licence! Malachy also bred greyhounds for racing and one claim to fame was that a dog he bred and sold went on to win the "Greyhound Derby". This wasn't due to him personally exercising the dogs, but to delegating the task to his sons Paddy and Tony.

Surprisingly, believe it or not, Malachy had a certain vanity about his appearance. He was rarely seen without a suit, shirt and tie whether at work or at play. He took great pride in his hair always being well groomed, carrying a comb in his breast pocket at all times to carry out running repairs. There is the story of him and Rose going to a wedding in Mayo when he was working in "Goodyear". When they got to the hotel they were staying in they realised he had forgotten his suit for the wedding. Rose said he would need to buy another one but, undefeated, Malachy wore the suit he had been wearing to work. But as always you can be sure the hair was in place, he was well suited and booted.

Along with many bits of advice and education, Malachy considered himself to be a connoisseur of the humble potato, though he would tell you it is not a potato but a spud. These he often told us was best served boiled with skins on with a little salt and butter. Soup, Steak, onions, all had to be cooked in a certain way. He would inform you that no one could cook porridge right and would insist on telling you the way it had to be done, water with a pinch of salt was always best.

Those boys who took courage and courted his daughters had certain ideals to live up to before we gained his blessing. The boy had to be of smart appearance, clean shaven, well-spoken, and finally he would need to know their Breeding. He would also try to keep the boys in line through all the years of their marriage, reminding them that they had got a good one.

To close this short biography let us first remember that he was a loving and much loved father and husband. He optimised what being a true Gael is all about in his love for Gaelic football and all things Irish and traditional. As we say goodbye to a great man we should fill our hearts with joy that he lived such a long and fulfilled life. That he was able to influence so many positively and, finally, that we were privileged to encounter such a man on his long life's journey. 

Jim Woods (Son-in-Law)

 

At the end of Malachy’s long life it maybe that the need to praise God is uppermost in our minds because it is so clear how rich God’s blessings have been to him:

“My soul gives thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings”.

We are happy today because we know deep down that Malachy’s life was complete and he was ready for God. We have received much from him.

Thank you to all who cared for him in his old age.

When we retire in life we do not retire to a place but to people. The lesson of old age is that of endurance and faith. In all our lives there are the valleys and the hills, the good times and the bad times, the successes and the failures, the joys and the sorrows. We are all given a certain number of years and those who live the longest become deeply aware that this time is not given so much for our enjoyment, but rather to work out our salvation. Personal.

Holding a vigil for Malachy you have shared memories of who he was and what he meant to you as a great supporter of our Gaelic games and language. We mourn his passing, we cherish his memory. Above all you have remembered the humanity of a good person. Today as we gather in sorrow to remember Malachy a burden of pain, a burden of loss, a burden of grief weighs heavily on us all. We gather as a community - our presence here today is our way of reaching out to the family.

God knows the reality of deep pain – the pain Malachy endured in recent years of illness. Letting go of him today is not going to be easy for Malachy was a great lover of parish, the G.A.A family, people and life itself.

Thank you to all who cared for him and loved him in life. Now his suffering is over. As Malachy has died now a part of you dies as well. You are filled with sorrow because his death leaves a gap that no-one else can fill adequately.

Easter follows Good Friday. Christ’s resurrection assures us that if we follow him we will rise again. It is only with death that life really makes sense, it’s our leap into eternity, it is God calling us home to be with him forever. At a time like this we come face to face with our own mortality.

Now we have to let Malachy go. As the poet said the parish is down a good man. His life gave glory to God. And now he has stretched out his tired old hands for the last time and God has taken his to himself. Let us pray with hope and gratitude for the eternal rest of this valiant man and join again in prayer: “My soul give thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings”.

Let us celebrate his homecoming, with thanks to God for his long life, for the example his faith gives us; for the lessons that we learned from him about living well and dying well.

On behalf of our parish communities of Tullylish and Seagoe I offer our sympathy to Malachy’s family, Veronica, Paddy, Tony, Dympna and Mary, daughters in law Mary, Susan and Ursula, sons in law Jim and Francis, his 15 grandchildren and ten great grandchildren, and the entire family circle.

 

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