WHEN John Joe O’Sullivan passed, on July 23rd, he was surrounded by loving family in his son’s home.
John Joe was the son of the late John and Josephine O’Sullivan of 24 North Street, Skibbereen. Born on May 2nd, 1951, he grew up surrounded by a close community of family, friends and neighbours. He spoke warmly of his childhood in North Street where there was much fun and laughter, and occasional mischief too.
Educated in St Patrick’s Boys’ National School and Skibbereen Vocational School, John Joe went on to serve his apprenticeship as a carpenter and builder in his father’s business.
John Joe had a great love of sport, particularly soccer, and together with his brother Michael, was a founding member of the Skibbereen Dynamos Soccer Club when he was aged just 17. Both brothers were members of the Club’s very first team, and they participated in the 50th anniversary celebrations of this still-very-successful club in 2017.
John Joe’s O’Sullivan ancestors, originally from Baltimore, were renowned craftsmen and specialised in building high quality horse carriages, some of which still exist today. John Joe continued this long family tradition and competed in Driving Competitions at Shows all over the country in his beautiful hand-crafted gigs. He was known for his perfectionism, his high-stepping hackney ponies, immaculate gigs and bowler hat. He and his favourite horse Bobby were a formidable team.
Music was another strong family tradition and John Joe had a great love of music from an early age. He loved to entertain people with his guitar and banjo, his wonderful voice and extensive repertoire of songs and ballads. Until very recently, he played every Thursday night for the senior citizens in St Fachtna’s Clonakilty.
John Joe’s ambition took him to the US at the age of 22 where his musical ability opened doors for him and his entrepreneurship was rewarded with success. He married his late wife Anne in Cincinnati and they both returned to live in Clonakilty in 1974 where they had two children, David and Lynda.
John Joe set up several successful businesses over his lifetime. In the 1980s he had the unique distinction of owning the first video rental shops in Clonakilty and Bantry and was well known for his chat and banter with customers. He also established himself as a successful building contractor who built family homes all over the West Cork area, including one of the first housing estates in Clonakilty.
John Joe’s Requiem Mass was held in Rosscarbery Parish Church, officiated by Fr John McCarthy, PP.
The service commenced with a heartfelt eulogy by his daughter followed by a captivating poem from his son, which he wrote about John Joe’s life.
Music featured throughout and Johnny McEvoy, the well-known singer, sang two of John Joe’s favourite songs at the mass.
After the ceremony the streets of Rosscarbery were lined on both sides from the Church the Celtic Ross as the cortege, led by three of his friends’ horses and gigs, made its way through the town and across the causeway on its way to the crematorium.
John Joe’s ashes were interred in the family plot in St Patrick’s Cemetery Skibbereen where Skibbereen Soccer Club provided a guard of honour, with many former school mates and old friends present. His musician colleagues performed some of his favourite songs as a final graveside tribute.
John Joe will be deeply missed by many, including his son David, daughter Lynda, grand-children, Callum, Mia, Nathan, Cian, Leah and Faye, daughter-in- law Caroline, dearest friend Eileen, brother Michael, sisters Marion(O’Callaghan) and Eileen(O’Neill) and the late Terry, his sisters-in-law, his brothers-in-law, his nieces and nephews and their families, his cousins and a wide circle of dear friends.
He lived his life to the full and the following advice he gave to his own children: ‘Love with all your heart, work hard and you will achieve, be kind to those around you, take a breath ... and enjoy life’.