25 August 2005 Edition

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Fógra báis - Tom Rooney

Tom Rooney from Cullyhanna, South Armagh who died on 22 June this year was a founder member of the Michael McVerry Sinn Féin Cumann. Tom was one of life's gentlemen, a keen sportsman — tough but clean on the football field but huge in heart and in everything that is honourable and good. He could be described as the gentle giant of Drummill and Tullynavall.

Tom had a great love of the Irish language and for a man who only had a few words, he was a true Gaeilgeoir. He went to Irish classes in the village and further afield and read at the Irish Mass every St Patrick's Day.

Tom Rooney was one of the founder members of the O'Fiaich Irish Summer College and was an active worker there. He was very helpful and never missed a day in 14 years. He always added to the craic and the banter that went on during breaktime and on the football field and loved to hear the young children speaking their few words in Irish.

He always refereed the matches on sports day and indeed no one else would do, as on many an occasion, the children would call for Tom. This showed the trust and respect that they had for him. He sometimes allowed the weaker side to score a dodgy goal to take the bad look off the scoreboard.

Tom had a great way with children and if the losing team was upset, he would take them to one side, talk to them, give them a few small presents and in a short while he had them as happy as if they had won the match.

He loved football and played many a tough game in his time on the St Pat's team. Down through the years, he carried out much needed work and attended committee meetings. He was very keen on a good game of bowls and indeed was a very good player.

Tom Rooney sold An Phoblacht and was involved in electioneering, ticket-selling and fundraising for Sinn Féin, as well as working with the Cullyhanna Youth Band and anything else that would further the republican cause.

Tom was a very easy-going, cool-headed man who never got flustered or panicked no matter what the situation. Tom died as quietly as he lived. He made many good friends down through the years and he is a great loss to each and every one of them.

His sudden and untimely death has come as an awful blow to his community and there is no one who hasn't been affected by his loss. Tom was buried in Cullyhanna on 24 June.

Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1