Kerry mourns for a great tourism ambassador

Noel Cronin (centre) pictured at the PGA tour in Orlando last week with Brendan Keogh of SWING (left) and Kerry football selector Donie Buckley

THE funeral will take place in the coming days of legendary Kerry golfing personality Noel Cronin who passed away, suddenly, while attending a high-profile PGA merchandise show in Orlando, Florida.

A larger than life character, he very recently retired as the popular general manager at Waterville Golf Course which was the place he worked in and loved for over 30 years.

He passed away, last Saturday, at the age of 75, after doing what he loved best – talking about and promoting golf and fishing in his home place.

A true and hugely influential ambassador for tourism in Kerry, and all of Ireland, Noel was the man with the warm embrace and firm handshake that welcomed golfers, amateur and professional, from all over the world to the top class Waterville links course.

Noel always had a warm welcome for visitors to Waterville

Such was his influence, he had been honoured with the prestigious Jerry Donworth Award by the Irish Golf Tour Operators’ Association for his remarkable dedication to the game and, in accepting that wonderful accolade, he was following in the footsteps of stars of the calibre of Christy O’Connor Snr, Christy O’Connor Jnr and Padraig Harrington.

An accomplished footballer in his day, Noel initially worked in the motor trade and in hotel business for many years before he was offered the role of caddy-master at Waterville Golf Club shortly after he became club captain in 1987.

He later became secretary-manager and he set about enhancing Waterville’s reputation as one of the great clubs. Having made a real success of the job, he supervised the complete redesign of the course in the early 2000s and he later led the development of a new-look clubhouse.

Noel’s work brought him into close contact with several stars, making him many friends, and among those with whom he became associated were the late great Payne Stewart, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Player and JP McManus.

Even though he retired in December, Noel was still a familiar face at Waterville Golf Club, meeting and greeting and welcoming players and friends, and he travelled to Orlando to promote the club at last week’s PGA event.

Noel’s name was synonymous with golf in Ireland

SWING Golf Ireland CEO Brendan Keogh, from Killarney, who accompanied Noel on last week’s trip to Orlando, told of his shock at his passing and expressed deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

“His name has become synonymous with golf in Ireland. His welcoming nature helped to create a memorable experience for all of the many golfers who visited during his time there,” he said.

It was a trip to the US that Noel had made – and loved – so many times and, perhaps fittingly, he passed away doing what he loved most on behalf of the club he loved.

Predeceased by his wife, Margaret, Noel is survived by his children Stephanie, Noel, Paudie, Liam and Adrian, sister Patricia, brothers Gerard, Donal, Dessie, grandchildren, daughters-in-law, brother-in-law, sisters-in-law and many other relatives and friends.

Reposing in Fitzgerald’s Funeral Home, Waterville, this Saturday, from 6.00pm to 9.00pm and on Sunday from 5.00pm to 8.30pm, removal will take place afterwards to St Finian’s Church, Waterville, arriving at approximately 8.45pm.

Requiem Mass will be on Monday at 11.00am, followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery. Family flowers only with donations in lieu to the Kerry Cancer Support Group which was a cause close to Noel’s heart.

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