Seamus Mulligan 1947-2014
Memories from Seamus’ Funeral Mass April 30, The Jesuit Church, Sea Road, Galway
Aitheasc Shéamuis 30ú Aibreán 2014 le Aonghus O Concheannain (translation below)
A aithreacha oirmhinneacha is a dhaoine córa!
Táimid cruinnithe anseo inniu chun slán a fhágáil lenár gcara Seamus, chun ár n-ómós a thaispeáint dó, chun buíochas a ghabháil le Dia as ucht an fhir bhreá seo agus chun aitheantas a thabhairt do na dea-thréithe a léirigh sé ag dul i ngleic leis na dúshláin a bhí roimhe ina shaol ach go mór mhór le sé bliana anuas agus é ag streachailt le hailse.
Ná bac bearta is baois na hóige! Sé bliana ó shin, taca an ama seo, bhí sé i mbaol báis le hailse fola. Phós sé a ghrá geal Tess agus fhad is a bhí sise agus a gcairde ag ceiliúradh na bainise d’fhan seisean san ospidéal leis na dochtúuirí óga a chuir cóir leighis air. Tháinig biseach air agus nuair a chuala sé ina dhiaidh sin gur fhan na dochtúirí óga seo ina suí ar feadh na hoíche ag cuardach na cruinne ar an idirlín chun cóir leighis d’fháil dá chás eisceachtúil, chinn sé go dtroidfeadh sé go tréan leo chun an tinneas a shárú.
Ón lá sin amach ghlac sé go humhal le toil Dé agus thaispeáin sé dúinne an teacht aniar a bhí ann. Léirigh sé misneach, dóchas, creideamh, foighid agus grá leis na dochtúirí, na banaltraí, a bhean Tess, a chairde, na comharsana agus na cuairteoirí uilíg a thagadh go dtí é san ospidéal nó ag baile.
Is gnáthach go dtéitear ar cuairt chuig daoine tinne chun ugach a thabhairt dóibh ach sé a mhalairt a tharla le Séamus. Mhair sé chuile lá amhail is go mba é an lá deireannach dhá shaol é.
Lena ghrástúlacht agus a acmhainn grinn, eisean a thug faoiseamh dá chuairteoirí agus iad buartha faoina bpostanna agus cúrsaí airgid leis an tuairt gheilleagrach a tharla timpeall an ama sin. Bhídís i lagracha gáirí ina chuideachta. Ní híonadh mar sin go dtagadh maithe is mór uaisle, scríobhneoirí, ealaíontóirí, ceoltóirí, aisteoirí agus chuile latchico sa chúige chuig na hoícheanta áirneáin a d’eagraíodh a bhean Tess agus a chairde in uimhir a 72 Clareview Park.
Mar a chonaiceamar tráthnóna inné agus arís ar maidin is liosta le háireamh na cairde a bhí aige. Bhí sé de phribhléid agamsa a bheith ina measc agus is mór an onóir dom gur iarraidh orm cúpla focal a rá i nGaeilge ag aifreann a shochraide mar go raibh an-chion aige ar an nGaeilge. Ní raibh sé leasc í a labhairt amach in ard a ghutha ag fáiltiú go fonnmhar roimh mhuintir Chonamara is Árann isteach sa gCrane nó Tigh Taylor. Ní bheifeá cinnte céard a déarfadh sé leat ach sin scéal eile…
Fágfaimid slán mar sin lenár gcara Séamus go bhfeice muid arís é, mar níl sé básaithe, níl sé ach imithe as ár radharc thar íor na spéire amach, ar long Valparaiso ar a thriall chun ríocht na gréine, tír na mbua. Tá a aingeal cuideachta mar chaiptín aige agus buachaillí Bhéal Easa Dara agus Boiceanna Uaráin Mhóir ina stócaí óga mar chriú. Is gearr uathu anois geataí na bhFlaithis, agus, más féidir linn a shamhlú céard atá in ann do na fíréin, sílim féin go bhfáilteofar roimh Shéamus mar bhauiteoir rás Volvo isteach i nduganna na Gaillimhe. Murab ionann agus Oisín ag dul in aois ar fhilleadh ó Thír na nÓg is in aois na hóige a rachas Séamus. Tiocfaidh lúth na gcos ar ais aige agus beidh sé ina scorach óg arís. Ní féidir linne, dáiríre, a shamhlú céard atá sna Flaithis ach tá sé ráite sa phaidir;
‘ Níor chuala cluas, ní fhaca rosc,
Is fós níor smaoin croí éinne
An t-aoibhneas mór a bhéas mar stór
Ag lucht na haithrí agus na dea-mhéine’
Gabhaimid buíochas le Dia as ucht an fhir bhreá seo agus deirimid;
‘A Íosa bheannaithe, a cheannaigh go daor sin
Cumhdaigh anam Shéamuis i dtearmann do chroíse
Agus tabhair go ríocht na bhFlaithis é áit a ngeobhaidh sé a
Sín é ár bpaidir chugat a Thiarna’
Mar thug sé dúshlán na doinnine, throid sé an cath, rith sé an rás, choinningh sé an creideamh agus thug dea-shampla do chách.
Go raibh maith agaibh.
Eulogy for Seamus 30thApril 2014 (translation from Irish of the above)
by Aonghus Concannon
Reverend Fathers and good people!
We are gathered here today to bid farewell to our friend Séamus, to pay him our respects, to thank God for this fine man and to acknowledge the qualities he demonstrated in tackling the challenges he faced in life but especially during the last six years and his struggle with cancer.
Never mind the folly of youth! About this time six years ago he was at death’s door with leukaemia. He married his love Tess and while she and their friends celebrated the wedding he went with the doctors for treatment. He recovered and when he heard that the doctors had stayed up all night doing a global search on internet for suitable treatment for his exceptional case he decided he was going to fight with them to defeat the disease.
From that day onwards he obediently accepted the will of God and showed us what he was really made of. He exemplified courage, hope, faith, patience and love with the doctors, nurses, his wife Tess, friends, neighbours and all the visitors who came to see him in hospital or at home.
People usually visit the sick to give them encouragement but it was the opposite with Séamus. He lived every day as if it were his last. With his grace and sense of humour it was he who consoled his visitors who were worried about their jobs and finances with the economic crash of that time. He’d have them in stitches with laughter. No wonder then that big shots, writers, artists, musicians, actors and every latchico in the province used to come to the entertainment nights that his wife Tess and friends organised at number 72 Clareview Park.
As we saw last evening and again this morning he had innumerable friends. I was privileged to be one of them and was honoured to be asked to say a few words in Irish at his funeral mass for he loved the Irish language and was never reluctant to speak it out loud and clear in welcoming Connamara and Aran people into the Crane or Taylor’s. You’d never know what he might say but that’s another story…
We bid farewell then to our friend Séamus until we see him again for he’s not dead, merely gone out of our sight, over the horizon on the ship from Valparaiso headed for the Kingdom of the Sun, the Land of Victory. His captain is his guardian angel and his crew is the strapping young Boys of Ballisodare and the Bucks of Oranmore. Not far now the gates of heaven and, if we can imagine what’s in store for the righteous, then I believe Séamus will be welcomed into heaven like the Volvo Ocean Race winner was into the docks of Galway. Unlike Oisín, who became an old man on his return from Tír na nÓg, Séamus will become young again, he will regain the power of his legs and be a young man once more. We cannot really imagine what heaven is like but the prayer says;
‘No ear has heard, no eye has seen,
Nor yet has any heart imagined
The great happiness that lies in store
For those of repentance and goodwill’
We give thanks to God for this fine man and say;
‘O blessed Jesus who paid dearly for us
Shelter Séamus’s soul in the refuge of your heart
And bring him to the Kingdom of Heaven where he will get his
That is our prayer to you O Lord’
For he faced his difficulties, he fought the good fight, he ran the race, he kept the faith and he gave good example to all.
Eulogy by Gerry Conneely
Seamus Mulligan. Even the name is as Galway as Dominic Street. Everyone of us will have our own memories of Seamus but this morning I want to to talk about two Seamus’s, Seamus the publican and Seamus the friend.
I thought, for a brief moment about Seamus the friendly- publican but I figured that was extending the issue somewhat.
So, Seamus the publican. I have been privileged to sit in the front bar of Taylor’s, early on Saturday afternoons with luminaries like Padraic O’Carragh, Jimmy Brick, Liam Stenson, Frank McCarthy. Paddy O Neill, Peter O’ Toole, Dennis Bloomer and Maeve O’ Regan. And I have listened to this august body debate the great issues of the day in a single conversation, like a concerto. It was wonderful. It put Gladstone’s Parliament in the shade!
And directing the entire ensemble, the maestro himself – the man behind the bar – Seamus Mulligan, tempering the more strident notes and enabling the harmonies.
He was extraordinary. There weren’t many publicans like Seamus, but there was a few. There was his old sidekick and partner, Paddy Connors. There was Skippy, in Lisdoonvarna. There was Doll and Gus O’Connor and Teresa McGann in Doolin, and there was Joe McHugh in Liscannor. Together, this small group of people forged the original, authentic, congenial “Brand Ireland” back in the 1970’s and ’80’s on which the modern tourism industry has been built. And what unites them all is a love of the native tradition in language, music song and poetry. They have done the state some service .
There is a lot of talk nowadays about friendship and community in this great wired up world we have created. We all have hundreds of friends now, on Facebook. Whereas, the reality often is that we have never been more lonely and isolated. Seamus Mulligan had an extraordinary capacity for friendship; real, authentic human friendship. Seamus had a hundred good friends, at least.
I only realised this aspect of him after he got sick. A huge surge of individuals, of which I was one descended on his house for visits. Then gradually, over the past six years, this group of individuals has evolved into a special community in its own right. I call it the Seamus Mulligan community. And this special community has now become my community. It is the community in which I live my life. So Seamus, I want to thank you for that wonderful gift of community.
And Seamus, when I got to know you at first, twenty five years ago, you were struggling with your demons and fighting to take control and command of your life. You were successful in this endeavour. This inspired me to think that maybe, somehow, sometime, I myself might conceivably attempt to do something similar. . So Seamus, I want to thank you for this inspiration.
Then, a few years later I saw you fall in love and bloom into a fully realized human being alongside your beloved Tess. And Seamus, that gave me hope. I want to thank you for that beautiful hope.
Then six years ago I saw you fall into sickness and you were forced to confront the hard existential realities of Being. I saw you fight and I saw you struggle. And then when you could no longer fight and no longer struggle, I saw you develop an acceptance and become reconciled. Then, last Saturday night I saw you slip away, peaceful and serene, surrounded by your family and friends. And this Seamus has given me courage. So Seamus, I want to thank you for giving me this gift of courage and for all the gifts of friendship.. Go well, my old friend and continue to watch over us. Gerry Conneely
Seamus had many friends in the Irish traditional music scene and here are some links to the music and performers who played at his funeral Mass.
Treasa Ni Cheannabhain sang The Lord’s Prayer in Irish. Here’s a link to her singing.
Mairtin O’ Connor
Here’s a link to Mairtin playing his own compositions: Inagh Valley, and Rockin’ the Boat.
One of the tunes played at the Mass is called Tabhair dom do Lamh – Give me your hand. Here’s a link to James Galway and The Chieftans playing it.
Sean Ryan and Mick Crehan played a duet on their tin whistles – Casadh and tSugain – making a hay rope. It was truly beautiful but I don’t have a recording to share with you.
Here’s a link to Sean playing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSjkDnxCxsI
Here’s Mick playing in a group:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybauJVdWJXQ
If anyone recorded the playing in the church I’d like to get a copy of it.
Here’s Sean Keane singing the song he sang for Seamus – The Man from Connemara.
The photo was taken the day Sean and I climbed The Reek, and got drowned.
Here’s a link to Mary McPartlan who sang beautifully Nearer My God to Thee
Here’s a link to Dolores Keane(Sean’s sister) singing a local song – Galway Bay. Seamus loved both of them.
Seamus left the church to the strains of The Maid Behind the Bar. Here’s a link to that tune.
A few days before he died Seamus quoted this poem by G.K. Chesterton to Fr. John Keane who visited him and who officiated at the Mass. This is a poem that our generation would have learned in National School.
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
The Perfect Passing
by Anne Irwin
Monday you summoned us
to the final game,
when Declan reached 110
you said” I’m leaving. ”
We sat, awkward,
Aonghus said “You fought a brave fight”.
You said “I want
snuff and whiskey at my wake,
the coffin in the centre of the room,
no traffic jams”.
At six on Saturday you said to Tess
“You get a short sleep now,
I’m going for the long one”
At “closing time”,
gathered round your bed,
Tess holding your feet,
the rest of us silent
as Aonghus finished reading
from an old Irish prayer book,
your breath stopped.
We sat around till dawn,
Gerry “Where will I go now?”
and the great giants, Aonghus and Brian,
who so often carried your fragile body
We fussed, made tea,
poured whiskey and talked,
cried and remembered..
You taught us how to die.
In the sidebar of this page you’ll see a gallery of photos, mostly taken by Seamus. You might find yourself amongst them!