David Quinn: My deep sense of loss and disbelief at Tom's death
Published 13/01/2014 | 02:30
It is hard to believe I am sitting here writing this piece at all. When I arrived in from Mass yesterday morning I discovered I had missed 12 telephone calls.
What could have happened? Text messages indicated something had happened to Tom.
Had he been knocked down in a traffic accident? Was he in hospital?
I am still processing what really did happen. I am still trying to process the fact that he was killed by a lodger who had been only in his house for the last few months.
Tom had worked with me at The Iona Institute since its launch seven years ago this month.
He worked as a researcher and he also maintained and kept the website up-to-date.
Tom had studied history at UCD. He told me he had been drawn to study history after reading Professor Joe Lee's 'Ireland, 1912-1985: Politics and Society'.
In university, he got involved in the pro-life society and many of the friends he made then remained his friends.
He kept up his interest in history. The book shelf in his office at The Iona Institute groaned with history books.
He also studied a bit of law and worked for a while as a journalist, mostly for the now-defunct Catholic newspaper 'The Voice'.
I can't remember exactly how I met Tom but I knew him for several years before he came to work at The Iona Institute.
Tom and I were both Vincentian educated. He went to Castleknock and I went to St Paul's College, Raheny. So apart from our views, we had that in common. He had lots of opinions and liked a good argument, but he was good fun.
He had an off-beat sense of humour and was a fantastic mimic, something he inherited from his dad, I am told. He loved to entertain his friends with his mimicry.
He did fantastic impressions of the politicians of the day and he did a note-perfect impersonation of Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny.
Tom liked to talk about politics and history. He was a dedicated member of the Focolare, an international Catholic movement based in Italy that promotes peace and reconciliation among Christians.
Once or twice a year Tom would take himself off to Italy for a Focolare meeting.
But if truth be told, the two things Tom liked to talk about the most, in my company at least, were rugby and football.
Rugby was his first love and he had a rugby correspondent's knowledge of the game. (He also did a fantastic impersonation of George Hook, come to think of it.)
His second love was Liverpool. How he would have enjoyed Liverpool's roller-coaster game with Stoke yesterday, especially as the result went the right way.
Over any given lunch, the two of us would talk about the weekend's results and about the games coming up.
I will miss him greatly and will feel the loss every time I remember all the conversations we might have had about last night's game, and now never will. Tom, Rest in Peace.