The people of Freshford and surrounds were deeply saddened, on May 28, to learn of the passing of Gerry O’Reilly, a very popular gentleman in the area.
Gerry who was 59 years old had been unwell for a while but nevertheless the news of his death was received with deep sorrow and sadness. He was widely known and respected by all who knew him. Born and reared in the Parish of Lisdowney, Gerry went to school in Freshford and over the years became an adopted Freshford man.
He had health difficulties from his early years but never let it stop him doing what he wanted to and enjoyed life to the full. He made his first trip abroad at the age of 11 when he received a Trip to Lourdes and went on to travel to many parts of the world afterwards.
He underwent a treble heart bypass and a liver transplant a few years ago and came through them all. He fought his illness in recent times with such bravery and dignity and was an inspiration to all who knew him.
He was involved in a big way in the local community and clubs over the years. He was Honorary President of Freshford Town Soccer Club where he served over decades in several official positions including Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, PRO and Manager.
He served for a number of years on the Kilkenny & District League also. He was involved in Freshford Community Players over the years and took part in a number of Pantos over the years, probably most remembered for his role as “simple Simon”.
He was also involved with Freshford Heritage, 2020 and most recently a founder member of Freshford Acorn Group and his travelled to Germany with that Group on a couple of occasions.
He was Treasurer of the Irish Hemophiliac Society of Ireland for 14 years until his retirement only earlier this year. They were like an extended family to him.
A keen Liverpool and Ireland supporter he was a regular visitor to Anfield and when Ireland qualified for the Euros and World Cups Gerry was there, including places like USA, Japan, South Korea.
He was a keen GAA follower also and rarely missed a St Lachtains or Kilkenny game.
He started off his working life in Conmore Press and then spent many years in Kieran Ryan Panel Beaters in the administration section and later went on to be self employed.
He also loved the theatre and was a regular visitor to Dublin to see shows. He loved his car and always drove only the best and the keys of his new car was one of the gifts brought to the altar at the funeral Mass. Amongst other things were his passport which he had used so much, Liverpool and Freshford Town Jerseys which showed his love for both clubs and a picture memento of his retirement from the Hemophiliac Society and a Programme from the Acorn Club.
His remains were removed from Kennedys funeral home on Thursday morning last for funeral mass in St Lachtains Church, Freshford. Celebrants included Monsignor K. Kennedy, Fr. Pat Comerford and Fr. Farrell, Lisdowney. Burial took place in St Lachtains Cemetery afterwards.
People travelled from far and wide to pay their final respects to a legend.
Members of the Freshford Town Soccer Club formed a guard of honour on Wednesday evening and on Thursday morning with members from as young as U10s up to junior and many past players turning up to pay their respect to Gerry.
He is deeply mourned by his parents Christy and Bridget, his brother Brendan, sister Kathleen, brother in law, sister in law, uncles, nieces, nephews, extended family, his many friends and acquaintances.
He will be sadly missed by all but never forgotten.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone”
Farrell’s Bar in Kilkenny Street has seen many good celebrations over the years. Sporting triumphs in 1984, 1993, 2009 and 2010 come to mind. The visit of Bobby Windsor of the famed “Pontypool Front Row” in the 1980s when Wales played Ireland at Landsdowne Road brought quite a stir as did the more recent visit by Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar.
But there will hardly have been a more emotional night than last Saturday when the final whistle blew at the Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid where Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final.
Freshford is a long way from Merseyside and even further from Madrid but the roar which greeted Liverpool’s victory was a stirring experience.
A few minutes later Stephen Farrell stepped forward to make a draw for two tickets to a league game in Anfield next season. JJ Donnelly was the winner and suddenly JJ had many new friends with no one thinking that Frances might like to tag along.
Then Stephen called for silence and said it would be a suitable time to remember one of Liverpool’s most fervent supporters who passed away last week, the late Gerry O’Reilly.
He asked for silence while the original version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by the Pacemakers was set up on the sound system. The distinctive voice of Gerry Marsden then broke the silence with the familiar opening line “When you walk through a storm....”
The chorus has been murdered many a night in Farrell’s and other hostelries but not this time as “Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain.....” rang out.
Though he was quite ill, Gerry made his final trip to Anfield only five weeks ago and plans were made to return. It wasn’t to be, but the Kop end of Heaven must have been a livelier place on Saturday at the final whistle when Gerry’s roar was heard.
He did not “walk alone” and will be fondly remembered while ’Pool fans celebrate this latest triumph.