20 November 2008

The late Jeremiah Larkin
“He took me to my first football game,” “He took me to my first picture,” “He took me to my first county final,” “He played with me when I was in my go car,” “He was there when I needed him,” “I played football with him, he was pure class,” Words that flowed from young and not so young as they passed by the coffin of Jeremiah Larkin on Saturday, 8th of November.
Words that described the man so well, full of fun and craic, always there to look after the young and help out the older ones. Jeremiah was born into a farming family, the fifth of seven children of the late Mick and Ellen Larkin with brother Andrew, sisters Noreen (Kennedy), Kathleen (Buckley), Sheila (Doyle), Mai and Ellen. Work on the farm was tough in those early years but the craic and fun was always mighty as Lahard and after a hard day’s work, Mick Larkin took out the accordion and stories of the floor being worn thin are still told.
Farm life gave Jeremiah a great knowledge of cattle and livestock in general. Many cattle dealers marvelled at the quality of animal he produced off his farm in Killbonane. Reclamation work and drawing bales of hay were tough jobs at Killbonane but Jeremiah, Andrew and Danny Cronin had great times. Jeremiah loved sport and had a great knowledge of all sport. A talented footballer, he gave a lifetime of services to his local club Listry GAA. At 19 he became delegate to East Kerry Board and in 1950, he became vice-chairman. He won the County Championship alongside his brother Andrew with the great Dick Fitzgerald in 1951 and the following year he captained Listry to win East Kerry League. He captained the Kerry junior team in 1953 and was elected secretary of his club.
In 1959 he became senior selector, a position he held for an amazing 18 years, peaking with an amazing night in 1970 when a team of strapping lads from Listry took the O’Donoghue Cup west over the Deenagh Bridge, an achievement that brought great pride, joy and satisfaction to Jeremiah. A love of greyhounds was handed down to him. There were trips to the tracks in Tralee and Ballybunion in the 60s by Jeremiah, Andrew, their brother-in-law Seamus Kennedy and Dan Joe O’Sullivan of Fossa and after the track they went to Jim Brosnan’s in the Rock for chips and crubeens wrapped in newspapers. Great times, great fun.
They came up in the world later to chicken sandwiches in the Mills Inn on the way home from Cork as Jeremiah’s dog Piebald won race after race in the old Western Road. Classic winners or tack record breakers didn’t come Jeremiah’s way but fun is fun and it would always remain so. He got great enjoyment out of rag meetings which were held on their farm and he was the slipper in the early years. He was a very proud man when More Leader took the Island Cup at Castleisland in 2005. Jeremiah came from a simpler life, with more time for fun and for people in general. What you had or what anyone else had didn’t matter.
As Fr Pat put it at his Funeral Mass, “he grew weary of life”, and passed away quietly and peacefully in Kerry General on November 7th. In a fitting tribute, his two loves in life, football and greyhounds, led in a guard of honour over Listry Bridge on his final journey to Milltown Graveyard. They don’t come any better than Jeremiah Larkin and his memory will live on forever. He touched far too many lives for it to be any other way.
– Kerry’s Eye 20th November 2008

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