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Jimmy Fogarty Memorial Plaque Unveiled In Two-Mile-Borris Cemetery, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

On Friday last, July 9th, 2021 a stone memorial plaque was unveiled in Two-Mile-Borris cemetery, Thurles, Co. Tipperary to the late Mr James (Jimmy) Fogarty (July 20th 1938 – May 15th 2018).

Prior to the unveiling, a memorial Mass was held in the Church of St. James, Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles, latter celebrated by Fr. George Bourke and Fr. Tom Fogarty.

Following the memorial Mass, those in attendance moved to the local cemetery and Mr Gerry Bowe (MC) opened proceedings, stating “Welcome everyone to Two-Mile-Borris Cemetery for this special occasion. I welcome Fr. Tom, Fr. George and a special welcome to the Kelly family, Co. Meath and the Maher family, Co. Kildare and all our guests here today. I will shortly call on Mr Joe Moran to give the oration who will be followed by Mr John Hackett, who will unveil the plaque. Fr. George will then bless the plaque and we will wrap up proceedings with a short prayer and a list of acknowledgements”.

Giving the oration on this memorial occasion, Mr Joe Moran stated: “The Great Liberator Daniel O Connell on his deathbed said as follows: My soul to God, My body to Ireland, My heart to Rome. If I could re-phrase that quotation for Jimmy Fogarty (RIP) it might read as follows: My soul to God, My body to my parents resting place in Loughmore and My life’s work and spirit to the communities of Two Mile Borris, and the parish of Moycarkey-Borris.

Today, his local community in Two-Mile-Borris formally remember Jimmy by placing his memorial stone among these of his local community neighbours and friends. Our sincere thanks to the generosity and vision of our own Reverend Father George Bourke for this well-deserved memorial to Jimmy. We thank everyone that has helped to make today a special remembrance of Jimmy, his cousin Eamon Kelly, his friend John Hackett and everybody here present.

It is my honour and privilege on its unveiling to briefly recall Jimmy’s unique lifetime of service in our community. I begin with Jimmy’s great passion for athletics. In his athletic youth Jimmy represented his club Coolcroo in the black and white singlets and Tipperary in the blue and gold singlets. He regularly competed in nine-mile cross country runs.
The efforts involved in winning races and medals didn’t stop a twenty-year-old Jimmy from taking on the job of secretary for the newly reformed Coolcroo Athletic Club in 1958.

Jimmy excelled as a sports administrator and made a meteoric rise in the athletics world. In 1964 he was elected Secretary of the Tipperary N.A.C.A.I. and only three years later he was Munster Secretary and only two years later in 1969 Jimmy was elected the first National Secretary of the newly established B.L.O.E. Despite the heavy workload of these offices Jimmy remained heavily involved in the promotion of Juvenile Athletics in his local club.

In 1985 Jimmy was one of the prime movers in the unifying of all athletics in the parish under the banner of Moycarkey – Coolcroo and the new Red and Black singlets. Jimmy remained involved in the club throughout the years and appreciated the achievements of all its athletes from The Healy’s in the early years to Tomas Coman in the modern Olympic Games.

When the time came to write the definitive history of athletics in the parish, Jimmy took on the mammoth task of editing the publication. The resulting “Moycarkey Coolcroo 1936-2006, A Tipperary Athletic club” is a testimony to Jimmy’s thorough research and writing skills.

In parallel with Jimmy’s involvement with Athletics administration he became a respected columnist and reporter on athletics in the Tipperary Star, Clonmel Nationalist, Gaelic Weekly and Marathon magazine.

Jimmy bequeathed us a considerable library of quality writing, not just the Moycarkey-Coolcroo book, but also the Moycarkey-Borris GAA Story published in the Mid 1980’s and his own memoir Hillside Views 2011 which sold out in weeks. But you will find Jimmy’s writing in past newspapers, magazines, Athletics reports, Hurling reports, Football reports, Match programmes, Field openings, the Souvenir booklet for the millennium year opening of the memorial wall for the Two Mile Borris All Ireland Winning team of 1900 and many other written sources. Much of Jimmy’s writing can be found under other people’s names as he was an expert Ghost writer for anybody who needed an article or special column.

Jimmy’s path into Journalism and Sports reporting was not accidental but the realization of his true vocation.
After leaving school, where he was an able student, Jimmy came home to the family farm in Skehana. In his memoir Jimmy admits that he wasn’t cut out for farming. He didn’t enjoy harrowing and other such work involving horses.

His real passions for reading, writing, researching and journalism were taking hold. Long before distance and online learning, Jimmy was getting qualifications for journalism via correspondence courses. In 1967 he received a qualification in Free-Lance Journalism from the London College of International Correspondence.

Jimmy’s first break into journalism came via Raymond Smith in the Munster Tribune newspaper in Clonmel. He did reports on local news and Athletics. Soon he was appointed Athletics correspondent for the paper. When that publication folded, Jimmy was recruited to do a weekly column on Athletics for the Tipperary Star and the Clonmel Nationalist. In the late 1960’s Jimmy took up a full-time position as a Journalist in Dublin for a publication called The Gaelic Weekly.

When The Gaelic Weekly ceased publication in 1970 Jimmy returned to match reports with the Tipperary Star and was subsequently appointed full time there. He spent six years full time with the Star covering everything from the Courts, the Council, Sports news etc.

Jimmy could recall many interesting and humorous stories from his career as a journalist in an era of basic technology long before smartphones, WiFi and social media. The value of the advice from a senior. One such story involved Jimmy’s part in a great scoop. A trusted source informed him that prayers had been said in Ballingarry Church over the weekend for John Joe Barry the famous “Ballincurry Hare”. This quickly became a front-page story on the Star and nationally but a phone call from the editor to Jimmy via Corcoran’s Bar informed him that alas it wasn’t true. John Joe was alive and well and was subsequently photographed with Jimmy in the Tipperary Star office. Jimmy resigned from the Star in 1979 to set up his own printing and writing business at home in Skehana Hill.

Jimmy’s first experience in GAA administration was at the age of nineteen when he assumed the positions of Treasurer and PRO in Two Mile Borris GAA. At that time, he was a midfield player in the hurling team and the goalkeeper in the football team.

Jimmy remained involved in the Moycarkey-Borris GAA club over the years and in the 1980’s as his new business grew he gave generously of his time and talents to serve as a key leader in club administration and team management. His writing and printing expertise in a golden era for the club made Skehana Hill the nerve centre of club activity. Jimmy’s know how in combination with his neighbouring close friends Conor Kennedy, Harry Ryan, Liam Hennessy, John Hackett, Gus Ryan, Michael Clohessy and others made a great leadership team.

Jimmy was a trusted and respected judge of hurling and used his abilities as a Selector on various Moycarkey-Borris teams of this era. In 1982 he reached the pinnacle as a selector with Gus Ryan, Sean Barry, Larry Ryan and Paddy Coman, when Moycarkey-Borris won the County and Munster Senior Hurling Championships. Further success as a Selector followed for Jimmy in 1985 when he was a Selector for the club’s second team that won the County Intermediate Hurling Championship.

Jimmy served four years as Secretary in Moycarkey Borris GAA club and several more years as PRO. But he didn’t need any title or defined role to serve the club. The ancillary services and expertise he generously provided for all of us cannot be enumerated. All of us in the Senior and Juvenile club relied on Jimmy for the Secretary’s report, tickets, cards, County Board Draw materials, scripts for speeches, Fund-raising events, Club developments etc.

Jimmy’s was an open house. He didn’t operate regular opening or closing hours and people needing writing and printing were always welcome. He could read our awful handwriting, inoffensively correct our spelling, improve our punctuation and give us sound advice. He often worked late into the night to get urgent work ready for us. He was an invaluable resource for the Mid Board, it’s Chairmen and Secretaries.
Jimmy was never critical of individual players and with his journalistic eye always looked at the big picture in analysing a game.

A quiet man, Jimmy was humble, self-effacing and avoided the spotlight. A trusted friend and neighbour, Jimmy led a decent and balanced life, always finding the time to listen, the time to smile, the time to remember, the time to pray, the time to read and the time to travel.
Our community has been very fortunate to have Jimmy in our midst, a gifted person who generously shared his many gifts with us.

His memorial stone acknowledges our appreciation of Jimmy Fogarty, our esteemed scribe, friend and neighbour.
Nì bheidh a leithèad ann arīs.”

The plaque was then unveiled by Mr John Hackett and the plaque and cemetery was blessed by Fr. George Bourke.

Mr Bowe (MC) then invited Mr Eamon Kelly to speak on behalf of the extended members of the Fogarty family in attendance.

Mr Kelly stated, “Joan & I would like to thank you all for coming here today despite Covid-19’s best efforts to thwart this memorable unveiling. I would like to fully associate with all of the previous speakers’ comments. We would like to thank Fr. George for first mooting the idea of a plaque and John & Gerry & Enda for their help in seeing it through to finality. Thank you, Tracy & Eamon, for the use of the flags, a lovely touch. And to James a job well done with the plaque, thank you all very very much.

Besides Athletics & GAA Jimmy had many other loves in his life, two of which I will briefly mention.

One was his love of journalism and this is just one job reference I found in his not so very organised printing room. It reads:

To whom it concerns,
Jimmy Fogarty has worked for the Tipperary Star in a number of capacities from 1960 to the present day. In all that time he has always been a most efficient and diligent worker and an employee of the highest integrity. I have no hesitation in recommending him to any employer and would go so far as to say that the employer who secures his services is a very lucky man or woman.
It was signed by Michael Dundon (Editor) Tipperary Star newspaper in April 1989.

That reference truly reflects the esteem with which Jimmy was held in his place of work.

Another love of his life was family. Last week I sent a message to our son Luke in Sydney about the erection of Jimmy’s plaque and this is the reply I received.

“So much about Jim I will never forget, my first hurley, my first Tipperary hurling kit, my first time staying in Two Mile Borris, Jim buying breakfast for me in Bewley’s on Grafton Street; the “yeh yeh yeh yeh yeh” in mid conversations; But the biggest thing I remember about Jim was the unconditional morals he had and his first moral was always family first”.

Neal’s memories are of being brought to Semple Stadium for a Munster Final and being treated to lunch in Hayes Hotel, the original home of the GAA.

That reflects Jimmy’s influence on two young men over 40 years his junior.
It’s wonderful for all of us to be able to remember Jimmy every time we visit this cemetery and for those who visit and maybe have never heard of Jimmy Fogarty it will encourage some curiosity as to who he was and what he stood for.
Ni bheidh a leithéad ann arís.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.”

Before closing the proceedings, Mr Bowe thanked Fr. George Bourke and Fr. Tom Fogarty for celebrating the Mass, together with sacristan, Ms Kitty Kelly. He further thanked the Kelly and Maher family members for their attendance, Fr. George Bourke for his kind sponsorship of the plaque and James Slattery, Monumental Works, Thurles for mounting the plaque on the wall. He thanked Mr Joe Moran and Mr John Hackett for performing their duties on the day, and Mr Noel Maher for recording the event; Mr Eamon Darmody for erecting the flags in the Cemetery and to Ms Tracey Darmody, ‘Scallywags Play School’ for sponsoring the flags at the GAA monument in the village.

Mr Bowe thanked his committee members, John and Liam Hackett, Enda Bourke, Tracey and Eamon Darmody, Fr. George Bourke and Eamon Kelly for their advice and contribution to the day’s events.

Before inviting those in attendance to ‘Bannons’ for refreshments, he thanked Billy and Veronica Lanigan for their hospitality and finally the late Jimmy Fogarty himself for his association with Moycarkey Coolcroo Athletic Club and Moycarkey Borris GAA club, who continue to make a huge contribution to sport within in the parish.

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