It’s not saying farewell – more of a ‘see you later’

The late Tom O’Leary has left a great legacy

Popular Killarney man Tom O’Leary, who was laid to rest in Aghadoe Lawn Cemetery this Wednesday, was described at his Requiem Mass as a wonderful husband, father and brother, with a kind and considerate nature who will be fondly remembered by so many people as a pure gentleman.

While family was his priority in life and home in Tiernaboul was where he was most content, Tom was hugely dedicated to and passionate about his work as a building contractor and he was unfailingly consistent when giving every job he worked on 100 per cent commitment.

Major construction projects with he was involved throughout his career included Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare, Killarney Park Hotel, Randles Court Hotel, Muckross Park Hotel, holiday home developments in Aghadoe and on Ross Road, Tralee Credit Union, the huge Beech Road development which houses Killarney Post Office, Killarney Tourism Office, retail outlets and overhead apartments, Lackabane Village in Fossa and Muckross Traditional Farms.

Principal celebrant Fr Niall Howard, who was joined on the altar by Canon Tom Looney and Fr Paddy O’Donoghue, said the sudden and untimely nature of Tom’s passing on Saturday last, following a very short illness, came as a real shock but he has left a great legacy and he has now passed on to a new life with those he loved who have gone before him.

Fr Niall Howard: Chief celebrant

“God’s house has many rooms, so many rooms – I know a builder who would like to have had that contract,” Fr Niall quipped.

Tom and his wife, Brid (née Galvin) were together for 42 years and married for 36 and the congregation heard that what made their relationship very intriguing in the early days was that Tom was the son of Fianna Fáil TD John O’Leary and his wife Judy while Brid’s parents, Murt and Bridie, were of traditional Fine Gael stock.

Not only that but the O’Leary household was firmly in the camp of Killarney Legion GAA Club while the Galvin homestead was very much a Dr Crokes base with the late Murt remembered as one of the leading Kerry GAA officials during Mick O’Dwyer’s golden years.

Fr Niall said Tom and Brid – who he described as soulmates – chose to name their son Myles as it means ‘a gift from God’ and he became their pride and joy.

In a moving, appropriately witty and wonderfully articulate tribute to his dad, at the close of the Mass, Leaving Cert student Myles told the congregation in St Mary’s Cathedral that the one thing his father valued most was community, that he loved people. He had a great sense of fun and a great approach to life.

“He taught me to how to live. He taught me how to be a man. He is my definition of what it means to be a man.

“Dad was my hero and still is my hero. He’s the greatest man I have ever known,” Myles said.

Symbols brought to the altar to mark Tom’s passions were a book to reflect his love of reading and learning, swimming goggles to remember his fondness for fitness and a holiday snap to remember happier times.

Fr Niall said today’s celebration of Tom O’Leary’s life was not saying farewell – it was more of a ‘see you later’.

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