There was widespread shock and upset in Killarney in recent days when word filtered through of the unexpected death of well-known local GAA activist Gene Moriarty while on holiday abroad.
Gene was a founder member of Fossa GAA Club in 1970 and he had been a stalwart officer and member with the red and black for over 50 years.
He was the first ever Fossa secretary, a position he held on more than one occasion, and he was also a very driven and inspirational club chairman in 1976 and again from 1992 to 1994.
Gene was also the long-standing and well-regarded club delegate to the Kerry County Board and, in more recent times, he served as club registrar taking a great interest in activities on and off the field.
He was a member of the club’s Scór quiz team and drama group – playing a big part in many stage productions – and he was also a very valued and astute tutor to the club’s Scór na nÓg participants over many years.
A passionate Kerry supporter, he seldom missed a game no matter where it was played and Gene, his wife Margaret and their daughter Amy were very familiar faces at league and championship encounters.
One of Gene’s proudest days was when he watched Paudie Clifford lift the All-Ireland Junior Championship trophy over his head at Croke Park last January.
As he sat in the Hogan Stand that day, his thoughts would have flooded back to over half a century earlier when his dream of forming a new GAA club was realised thanks to the efforts of Gene and several of his Fossa neighbours including Michael O’Connor, Jer Buckley, Danny Coffey, Pat Sweeney, Brendan Lynch and Tom Long.
Another landmark day was when the new state-of-the-art Fossa GAA headquarters was officially opened at Gortroe in 2000 as, up to that stage, all home games were played on a field leased from Liebherr Container Cranes.
In a statement this Thursday, Fossa GAA Club remarked: “All club members were deeply saddened at the passing of our hugely active stalwart member and friend Gene Moriarty, surely a Fossa man apart.
“Our sincere and deep condolences to the family at this time. He will be sadly missed. May Gene rest in peace”.
A retired psychiatric nurse, Gene spent his working life in St Finan’s Hospital where he was greatly valued by staff and patients. He was gentle in his approach, always kind and he took a genuine interest in everybody he encountered.
An active trade unionist, he was a prominent member of the Labour Party in Kerry, holding many officer roles at constituency level, and he was greatly valued as a very effective and dynamic canvasser and strategist by party TDs and councillors.
Gene was a familiar face at long election counts whether it was local elections, Dáil battles or European elections and referenda and he always had a great insight to offer and a ready explanation for voting patterns as they emerged.
He and Margaret (née Murphy) ran a busy guesthouse in Lackabane, Fossa for many years and the location was ideal for such a busy man as he was at the centre of community life and as his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the parish and its people was second to none, he entertained many visitors hoping that he could help with a little local history or to put the facts on a story.
Gene is survived by Margaret and Amy, brothers-in-law Noel, Gearóid and Seán and his wife Máire, sister-in-law Martina and her husband Brendan, nieces, nephew, Amy’s partner Mikey, relatives, his many friends and all in the Fossa GAA community.
The funeral arrangements will be announced later.
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