THE late Michael O'Donnell
1919-2012 MICHAEL O'Donnell, Coolnadeed, Ballymacelligott, Tralee , passed away on Friday, August 31 and was laid to rest in O Brennan Cemetery on Monday, September 3. He was a hard working family man; loved by many and he will be sadly missed by all.
Michael, was the fifth of six children, born to Thomas and Margaret O'Donnell (nee O'Rourke) on January 6, 1919. He was brought up in the family home along with his brothers John and William and his sisters Mary, Margaret, and Bridget. Being the second youngest much of the his early childhood was lived against the traumatic background of the Civil War and of course later the World Wars.
However, when asked what was his greatest memory of hardship, he recalled the spring of 1948. Following the terrible winter of 1947 many of the cows in the area died after calving, bringing great hardship to neighbouring families.
From 1924-31 Michael attended Ballymacthomas National School. The school had two large classrooms and a porch area, where the turf was stored. There was a big fireplace in both classrooms and Michael recalled a Mr Reidy from Reamore bringing a rail of turf to the school twice a year.
The children were regarded as a 'soft' if they donned their shoes before Christmas. He had a clear recollection of a time when the luxury of wearing shoes at any time was permitted only to the girls and the boys had no choice but to go barefoot all year round.
In 1931 he left Ballymacthomas NS and went to the secondary school in CBS Edward Street Tralee. This was the era of the bicycle and Michael cycled the route with others from the area. He often remembers sharing the journey with his third cousin Jimmy Callaghan and with many others from Ballymac, Currans, Castlemaine and Milltown.
Following his time in Edward Street, Michael stayed at home and worked the farm with his father Tom. It was a mixed dairy farm with nine cow, a horse and and pony, two breeding sows, hens, ducks and geese. Crops grown on the farm were turnips, potatoes, beet, oats and barley. Whilst it may seem like an idyllic life from this remove, the thinning of the root crops meant in the words of Michael that: you remained on your knees for three hard weeks.
There is an old saying: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" and being dull is definitely not a accusation that could be made against Michael .He remembers well his trips to Dublin on the 'Ghost Train' for All Ireland Finals. Many of his companions liked the idea of travelling with Michael O'Donnell for such adventures, as they knew that he was his 'well connected' in Dublin. With his brother John being based in O'Connell School, North Richmond Street, they were guaranteed to receive a hearty meal and were conveniently close to Croke Park.
On April 19, 1951 Michael married Eily Leane, in St Brendan's Church Abbeydorney.
Michael and Eily had two boys Tommy and Pat and together built up the family farm in Coolnadeed. As a couple, they not only cared for their own family but were always available when any of their siblings were in need.
They had a great interest in the lives of her nieces an nephews and were particularly caring of the young Crean family (Rathonane) and Leane family (Rathkenny) when they lost their dad Pat, and mother, Nora, respectively.
Throughout Michael's life he was blessed with robust good health but with Eily's passing on February 25, 2006 his overall health began to decline. Over the past five years he took up residence in Ashborough Lodge Nursing Home, Milltown and received excellent care there until his final illness.
A large crowd attended the removal of his remains from Hogan's Funeral Home on Sunday , September 2 and the Concelebrated Requiem Mass in Ballymacelligott Church the following day.
His son, Fr Pat was the chief celebrant and the requiem mass mass and was assisted by Michael's nephews Fr Tom Crean (Kenmare) and Fr Billy Crean (Caherciveen) and many priests of the diocese.
Burial took place afterwards in O'Brennan Cemetery. Michael is deeply regretted by his sons Tommy and Fr Pat, daughter-in-law Mary , grandchildren Michael, Veronica and Brendan, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends. Month's Mind Mass is to be offered in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Ballymacelligott on Friday, October 5 at 8.15pm.