The heights of joy and depths of grief are only a fleeting moment apart.
It is important to celebrate and enjoy the treasured moments because you never know when life is about to take your breath away in happiness or deal you a devastating blow.
We celebrated Colm and Elaine’s wedding on 5 August. It was an amazing day for the O’Leary and Reilly families. In Tipperary, it will always be remembered as a day of sadness.
My nephew Conor Bowe is on the senior hurling panel for Tipperary. That day, he played a club match with Moyne-Templetuohy and rushed on to join in the celebration of Colm and Elaine’s wedding. These lads make all kinds of sacrifices to play the game.
Towards evening, in the midst of our celebrations, the news broke that Dillon Quirke, the talented young Tipperary hurler and one of Conor’s closest friends, had collapsed on the pitch in Semple Stadium playing a club championship match with Clonoulty-Rossmore against Kilruane MacDonaghs. Dillon died a short time afterwards.
It was devastating news for Conor and the Bowe family and their celebrations came to an abrupt end.
The scene at Semple Stadium must have been unimaginable, with utter dread gripping the crowd as Dillon received medical attention. The young player with so much unrealised potential being stretchered off, the helicopter landing on the pitch and the match being abandoned, must all have been poignant signals to Dillon’s parents that their beloved son was seriously ill.
Our ability to store memories is probably one of the best gifts we possess and it is that gift that sustains us through thick and thin
I do not know what words to offer to Dillon’s parents Dan and Hazel or his sisters Shannon and Kellie at this time that would give them any comfort except to treasure and draw strength from the wonderful memories that they made together.
Our ability to store memories is probably one of the best gifts we possess and it is that gift that sustains us through thick and thin. Dillon’s team mates are devastated and shocked by his death. The bond between them will be strengthened as they pull together and try to manage their disbelief and raw emotion. Those lads at club and county level will never tog out for a match again without Dillon in their heads. Dillon was loved, treasured and admired widely for his exceptional hurling talent. He was cherished by his community Clonoulty-Rossmore and the large GAA Tipperary family. The weeks and months ahead will be tough. I watched Dillon play in Tipperary’s four games this year. He was some hurler!
Clonoulty-Rossmore has been plunged into grief. One never knows what’s around the corner. Only the previous weekend the Clonoulty-Rossmore Macra Club hosted the International Miss Macra. I won the competition in 1981.
All previous winners were invited back to a dinner in the Anner Hotel to mark the occasion of the 50th Year of the competition. Little did the founding members that included Michael Slattery and Tom Horan think how big and successful the competition would become. Little did anyone think that such a loss as that of Dillon Quirke lay around the corner. Tim and I had a lovely time catching up with old friends and reliving a special time in our lives. Our little island is small, I found myself sitting beside Margaret Horan, Tom’s wife. Margaret and I went to secondary school together. We reminisced and shared news of other classmates. We especially remembered our classmates Bernie Sheehan (Tallow), Veronica (Herlihy) Ryan (Boherbue) and Dr Bridget (Maher) O’Brien who all died leaving husbands and young families in the intervening years. Loss touches every family but a young death takes grief to a different level altogether.
As in previous years, the girls were hosted with the families around the parish of Clonoulty-Rossmore.
I stayed with Peggy and the late Michael Gleeson along with their daughters Mary and Norma. It was lovely to catch up again with Mary.
I would have filled this column with happy memories from 1981 but somehow it doesn’t seem right to be writing about happy times when the people of Clonoulty-Rossmore and Tipperary are so sad.
Macra is a wonderful organisation, affording young people all sorts of opportunities to progress, develop and succeed. We had a lovely time.
I would like to offer my sincerest sympathy to Dillon’s parents, his sisters, his teammates and everyone who mourns the untimely death of this lovely young man.