It is with great sadness that the family of Roley Collier mourns his death, together with his large group of friends and contacts from community groups throughout the county.
Roley lived in Thomastown with his family for the last 40 years, but was well known across the city and county for the hard work which he did for all aspects of the community throughout his time in FAS. Roley started working with FAS some 38 years ago, in the AnCO training centre in Waterford where as a highly skilled welder he trained many generations of apprentice welders. He had got his experience on major construction sites including power stations across the country and also having spent some time in Saudi Arabia. Roley moved to the FAS Employment Services Office in Irishtown Kilkenny 25 years ago as a Senior Employment Placement Officer. He had a great ability to see potential in job candidates and always gave them a sense of confidence to apply for jobs for which they might not have thought themselves fit. He always treated candidates with the utmost of compassion and respect. Recognising the importance to their well being of being in employment, he worked on the basis that nobody should leave his office without at least having hope, which he then followed up with creative means of sourcing employment and matching the needs of employers and job-seekers. His tenure in FAS also covered an extensive period when he was responsible for FAS Community Employment Schemes. Through this he worked with groups from all aspects of society including sports clubs, heritage groups, tidy towns committees and the arts. He took a very special personal interest however in caring groups who looked after special needs children and adults, the sick or elderly, and those who were vulnerable or otherwise disadvantaged. He put in many of his own personal hours and road miles ensuring that the needs of these groups were met, sometimes through difficult periods where funding was a challenge but always finding a way of supporting them. He retired in 2009, but up until the time of his death maintained his interest in the work of these groups, as well as the close relationships which he had developed with his FAS colleagues.
Everybody who knows Roley knows that he was passionate about horses and horse racing. He owned, bred and raced many racehorses throughout his lifetime and had a great knowledge of breeding, racehorse pedigrees and racing form. He was very hands on in the training of the horses and his training skills in partnership with his wife Phyllis, were awarded by many successes. Roley’s association with racing began back in the early 70’s with Katherine Maud who initially was trained by Paddy Murphy and later by Roley’s brother in law Paddy Carroll. Katherine Maud won three races and was placed 22 times. He also bred and owned Vitamin Maud trained under permit by Phyllis, who won a bumper and county hurdle at Gowran Park and was placed several times. He also had wins with Costly Mistress and Brave Sharon, and most notably with Kawa Kawa who won five hurdle races and also won and was placed on the flat. He always had big hopes and dreams for his horses and just before his death put his first two year old prospect into training, a close relative of Myboycharlie - a Prix de Morny winner in Deauville. There is no doubt that Roley’s spirit will live on through his family’s continued interest in racing, and if it is possible for him to have an impact from the afterlife it will no doubt bring further success on the racetrack.
Roley was a very unassuming and personable character, he was a good story teller and had a great sense of humour which made him very good company and popular with all generations. He was married to Phyllis for 45 years, they having been childhood sweethearts, and together they had 5 children – Alicia, Jimmy, Katherine, Siobhán and John. He was the centre of the family and loved spending time with them including with his 14 grandchildren in whose interests he himself took special interest and with all of whom individually he had a special relationship. He was very much loved by his sisters Kathleen, Mary, Alice and Isey, by his late brother Jimmy and by his sons in law and daughter in law, nieces and nephews. To all of his family he was a great advisor and mentor and he carried them all on his shoulders. They will all miss him dearly.
Roley was born in Ballinkillen, near Bagenalstown and died peacefully on 6 March 2012 following a long illness, at 67 years of age. No doubt his mother and father Alice and Sonny and his brother Jimmy were there to greet him at the pearly gates. May he rest in peace.