A hurler, footballer, greyhound enthusiast, horseracing fan, and, most of all, a loving and proud family man.
These were some of the ways Billy Quinn was remembered yesterday at a funeral Mass marked by happy memories and laughter amid the sadness.
Former international footballer Niall Quinn reminded a packed St Mary’s Church in Killenaule, Co Tipperary, of stories from his father’s life, which drew to an end after 80 years last Sunday at South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel following a short illness.
Originally from Rahealty in Co Tipperary, Billy “eloped” to Dublin with sweetheart Mary back in the 1950s, at a time when she would have had to give up her job as a teacher upon getting married, before they emigrated to England, then returned to Dublin, where they raised their children, Rosaleen, Gerry, Anne Marie, and Niall, who said: “We had an idyllic upbringing.”
More recently, Billy and Mary lived in Ballinure, close to Killenaule, enjoying happy times with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“The greatest decision of all, after all that time, with your children born and your grandchildren coming along, the two of you decided to come down to Ballinure,” said Quinn. “Billy called that the greatest decision. The 10-and-a-half years you had here were the 10-and-a-half-years we saw our father smile more than we ever thought he ever would.”
Niall spoke of Billy as a “hurling star”, who won two All-Ireland minor medals with Tipperary, one as captain, and who was famed for his feats as a goal-scoring forward. It was while he was a young hurler that he met Mary and persuaded her to go on a number of dates.
“Mammy, you were the first ever WAG,” Niall said yesterday to laughter, adding later: “He told her he loved her every day. He said to her: ‘What did you ever see in me, how did I get you?’
The Mass was attended by former Ireland football physio Mick Byrne, former rugby international Mick Galwey, former Cork hurler Tomás Mulcahy, former Kerry footballer Tommy Doyle, jockey Kevin Manning, hotelier and businessman Louis Fitzgerald, former Tipperary hurler Jack Bergin, Br Kevin of the Capuchin Centre in Dublin, and former Munster GAA council chairman Seán Fogarty.
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