Mattie King was both a gentle man and a gentleman, an honest hardworking and extremely tasty farmer with integrity oozing out through his every pore. He was also a great friend.
Mattie had many interests.
First and foremost he was a family man. In my many conversations with him over the years, he would invariably mention his wife Patricia, son Gabriel and daughters Alma and Claire. To say he loved farming would be an understatement.
He had an eye for a good animal which was second to none. When you went on to his farm you saw top-quality stock, well looked after by a top-quality stockman. His flock of ewes was one of the most evenly matched and best-quality flocks I used to shear and generally produced an average of two lambs to every ewe.
As much and all as he liked sheep, I always felt that Mattie’s best satisfaction came from buying a weanling or a store bull or bullock and carrying them through to slaughter. He wasn’t shy at ringside if he saw an animal he liked but I’d be quite confident that throughout his life of buying and selling, very few if any of those animals ever, as they say in the business, ‘died in debt’. Mattie didn’t do half-measures. He took pride in doing a job well – it had to be done right, if not, it had to be re-done. Everything from the shovel to the stomach tube left in their rightful spot.
Always curious and keen to see and learn how to make improvements, Mattie was a man you would be sure to meet at information meetings, whether they were run by Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture, a private consultant, a bank or the IFA. On top of this he was an avid reader of agri media, with the Irish Farmers Journal as guaranteed every Thursday as mass in Gurteen every Sunday.
Outside the farm, he was a loyal IFA member all his life, held every position at club level and was always available to help out and support at county level. He was also a member of the Athenry Livestock Mart committee. His contributions at meetings were always constructive, positive, honest and on-point.
A few of Mattie’s other great loves/interests were GAA, politics, music and dancing. A Pearse’s man to the backbone and from a strong hurling family, his brother Michael was sub goalie for the Galway team which made history by winning the 1980 All-Ireland hurling final while some of his nephews (Creavens) won county medals with Killimordaly. Another nephew, Mattie Kenny, is best known for managing Dublin hurlers, having managed Cuala to two All-Ireland club titles.
Mattie would always get a great buzz from elections, whether they were local or national, and was always willing to put his shoulder to the wheel for the candidate he supported and for many years that was his good friend and neighbour Noel Treacy. He loved music and dancing.
The parish of Gurteen, between Ballinasloe and Athenry, will miss Mattie. He was a great community man. The farming community will miss Mattie. His many friends will also miss him greatly but most of all, his wife Patricia, son Gabriel and daughters Alma and Claire, grandchildren and extended family members will miss a man who was always there to help, support and advise them. They will miss his gentle but firm demeanour. They will miss the gentleman and friend that he was. We all will.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h’anam dílis. JH