THE longest serving local notes correspondent in the country – our Courtmacsherry correspondent – has submitted his final column for The Southern Star.
The widely read column, published on July 17th, marked the end of an era – 63 years to be precise – an incredible milestone for anyone in any occupation.
There were many strings to John’s bow throughout his career. He devoted a lifetime to writing, farming and his family.
In the excellent book The Texture of West Cork, Seán Dineen gives John his due.
The writer describes him as ‘a renaissance man: an award-winning actor and producer with Kilmeen Drama Group, dairy and tillage farmer, writer and local historian, executive board member of Barryroe Co-op for 44 years, officer with Barryroe GAA, and the local Bol Cumann branch, community activist, the driving force behind the revival of the Courtmacsherry Strand Races and winner of both the George Russell Award for lifetime service to the co-operative movement, and the Paddy Fitzgerald Award for exceptional work in the Irish Farmer’s Association.’
‘It’s incredible to think that John has contributed to The Southern Star for over 60 years supplying local notes, covering farming issues and other sport and news items,’ said Seán Mahon, managing director of The Southern Star.
‘He is so well known and respected locally. I remember him winning a Hall of Fame award at our 2017 West Cork Farming Awards and how nice it was,’ Sean added, ‘to see John and Betty surrounded by their large family celebrating his success.’
‘On behalf of everyone at The Southern Star I’d like to say thank you to John for all his years of work with us and wish him every happiness.’
Happiness for John is a mainstay. It shows to this very day in the full square toothy grin and the ever-present twinkle in his blue eyes.
One of his milestone anniversaries was marked in this newspaper with a page tribute written by neighbour Martin Walsh.
He describes how, like many of his generation, John Sexton went to work on the family farm called Sun View – a perfect name given John’s perpetually sunny disposition – once he completed his primary education.
Farming was a natural progression, so too was his involvement with farming issues, something that was honoured with a lifetime membership of the IFA.
His journalism, including GAA and bowling coverage, also extended to other publications and he was the editor of the Courtmacsherry Satellite for decades.
Where he found time to write three books is anyone’s guess.
John explains his prodigious output as passion for the subject at hand, but he can trace his writing career back to sending reports of Macra meetings to The Southern Star in 1958.
As Martin Walsh observed, ‘The Courtmacsherry Satellite spanned a quarter of a century, provided an annual review of all matters local and sometimes further afield keeping tabs on local emigrants and finding local links with well-known people in all walks of life.
‘And even though it was always published in July or early August, it was on the Christmas present list of many.’
In all of this, John will attest it is his family – particularly that of his wife Betty – which is key to his contentment.