ST MARY’S GAA Club and Ballineen/Enniskeane residents paid tribute to the late Tom Doyle.
Tom Doyle was a founding member of the Carbery GAA club back in 1958. Doyle gave over 60 years’ dedicated service, not only to the club itself, but to many organisations in the local area as well.
A bench and plaque was unveiled in Doyle’s memory at the West Cork club’s GAA pavilion in front of a large attendance.
Club Chairperson Mike Dineen described Tom Doyle as the epitome of a true clubman, always prepared to serve in any capacity.
Amongst the large crowd were Annie Lordan and the Lordan family who accepted a young Tom as a member of their family when he first arrived in the early 1950’s.
Tom’s sister, Margaret Spillman, Tom’s brother Tom, Tom Junior, Bridie and Deirdre were also in attendance. Johnny Lordan spoke on behalf of the Lordan family.
‘Tom came to Ballineen in 1955. From the time he came off the bus and the lads tried to recruit him for the hurling team, he stayed for 63 years and gave great service,’ Johnny Lordan recalled.
‘GAA was Tom’s life. He became part of our family when working on the farm, a brother to all of us. One thing about Tom, he never bore a grudge and he’d have forgotten an argument long before you would.
‘Very kind and very generous to others, Tom was a great man to welcome strangers into the village, a great man to welcome emigrants coming back and make a fuss of them.
‘Tom’s contribution to the club was constant, it was his life from start to finish. He was known throughout West Cork as a St Mary’s man.’
Kieran O’Driscoll spoke on behalf of St Mary’s. In a wide-ranging speech, O’Driscoll paid a glowing tribute to the Kilkenny youngster.
‘In 1958, 19-year-old Tom, along with two other young lads, 17-year-old Flor O’Driscoll and 18-year-old Charlie O’Donovan founded the Ballineen GAA club and forerunner of the current St Mary’s club,’ O’Driscoll stated.
‘We remember Tom with deep gratitude for his tireless work throughout his life on behalf of St Mary’s.
‘Tom undertook numerous roles as a founding member, player, mentor, coach, referee, long-standing club delegate to the Board, groundsman, chairman, secretary and, up to the time of his passing, as assistant treasurer and club vice-president.
‘Tom gave his life and soul to our club and we have mourned his loss with great sadness.
‘We were truly blessed and fortunate that Tom was such an outstanding member of our club for so many years. Totally committed, dedicated, loyal and steadfast to the end. This is Tom’s day. He is a St Mary’s legend.’
Chairperson of the Carbery GAA Board, Aidan O’Rourke, also paid tribute.
O’Rourke first got to know Tom Doyle when they were both involved at underage level. The Carbery GAA chairperson always admired the marvellous work Tom Doyle carried out on behalf of his club and local GAA.
‘Tom was a marvellous man, a great Gael and on behalf of the Board and the GAA in general, we salute him today,’ O’Rourke said.
‘To St Mary’s, this (bench and plaque) is a wonderful thing to do.’
St Mary’s GAA club President, Danny Warren, and Margaret Spillman unveiled the bench and plaque, before legendary veteran player, Dick White, gave a rendition of local anthem, ‘The Old Station Gates.’
Visiting patrons will now have a chance to rest on Tom Doyle’s bench and think of the great character who spent his life in the service of the St Mary’s club and the twin villages of Ballineen/Enniskeane.