HE was a local, provincial, and national GAA administrator of substance and vision, but Jim Forbes was happiest in the wind and rain at an Under-14 match, his son Killian told family and friends at the Carrigaline man’s funeral yesterday.
Former Cork County Board chairman Forbes was laid to rest yesterday in St John’s Cemetery in Ballinrea.
His funeral took place in Church of Our Lady and St John in Carrigaline where Father Pat Fogarty remembering Forbes as a “leader and a visionary”.
One only had to scan the notable faces in attendance, including three former GAA presidents, to see that Forbes was a highly respected, even revered, figure in GAA circles due to his exceptional service to the association.
That went from local divisional responsibilities in Carrigdhoun to Munster Council PRO, or chairman of Croke Park committees.
Killian, who still plays with Carrigaline, remembered his father fondly.
“He worked his way from the bottom of GAA right up to the top levels of Cork County Board and the Munster Council, spending his last few years involved with the underage teams in Cork.”
Jim’s love for Cork GAA was never in question, said Killian.
“He was happier to stand out in the wind and rain for an U14 match in various competitions around the county than he was in a board meeting.”
Though selector for Carrigdhoun was “not the most glamourous role”, Killian made it clear that the division always held a place in his father’s heart.
“Carrigdhoun footballers didn’t win that often, but, when they did, you saw the same joy on his face as when he won an All-Ireland with the Under 21s as a selector, or when the Cork hurlers won the All-Ireland when he was chairman.”
His love for Carrigaline and Carrigdhoun was such that his family would often be assigned the task of making sure everything was in order before fixtures. Killian fetched the shorts and jerseys, while his mother and sisters organised the gearbags, with Jim “ticking each item off the list”.
As passionate about his family as he was about GAA, the Carrigaline club man will also be remembered as an ardent fundraiser for organisations, such as COPE foundation and Gael Linn, to which he contributed so much.
Cork GAA secretary, Frank Murphy delivered a graveside oration, describing Forbes as a “great Gaelic Games administrator and extraordinary gentleman”.
“In the south east [division], Jim was an institution. He was treasurer of the board from 1979 to 2010 and again resumed that office in 2016, 33 years of service in that capacity. In between, he served for five years as the PRO of the board.
“He had a great flair for public relations and innovation. He was a great believer in the endeavour and achievements of teams and individuals being recognised.
“Jim and [his late wife] Maura put in phenomenal work in organising GAA summer camps for children. On Jim’s initiative, a full-time coach, the now late Joe McGrath, was appointed to service the Carrigdhoun schools and he performed this task with great success.”
Mr Murphy added that Forbes also instituted the annual U15 hurling tournament for Munster counties. He didn’t only bring about innovations, he raised the means through sponsorship and otherwise to finance them.
“He was PRO of the County Board from 1997 to 1999 and, in this capacity, his very special talent in public relations was much to the fore. He had great rapport with members of the media. He was vice-chairman of the board from 2000 to 2002 and, in his role as chairman of the fixtures committee, Jim had the instinct to make a difficult programme uncomplicated.”
Murphy added: “He was chairman of the board from 2003 to 2005, a period of great All-Ireland senior success for this county. In his various capacities, Jim acted at all times in a principled, diplomatic, calm and fair manner.”
Among the congregation yesterday were former GAA presidents Sean Kelly, Nickey Brennan and Christy Cooney, Munster GAA chairmen, Jerry O’Sullivan, Sean Walsh, and Jimmy O’Gorman, RTÉ’s Eileen Dunne and Ger Canning, Cork hurling manager Kieran Kingston, and former players, such as Teddy McCarthy and his club colleague Nicholas Murphy.
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