The late Bill Evans
A LINK with the famous Gil O'Brien Marching Band was severed with the recent death of William (Bill) Evans of Kevin Barry's Villas.
For many of the older generation in Tralee the Gil O'Brien Marching Band was synonymous with every event, be it Festival of Kerry or football match, that took place in Tralee in a bygone era.
Bill was one of the accordion or box players who flanked the big base drum which the leader Gil belted as the the band marched proudly through town. The side drummer was the legendary Gerry 'Suckeen' O'Sullivan, while the tricolour was carried by Johnny O'Connor. Many other Tralee musicians played various instruments and Bill, one of the last surviving members of that gallant band of troubadours, brought music, mirth and merriment to many occasions.
Aged 88, Bill passed away on Tuesday, August 28. He was born to parents William and Hanna (nee Walsh) in Tralee and like so many of his generation left for London at a young age. There he met the love of his young life Eileen O' Donoghue from Castlebar and they returned home to marry and raise their family settling in Mitchel's Crescent and later Kevin Barry's Villas.
Together, they raised sons Bernard, Vincent and daughters Geraldine, Eileen and Mary in a loving family atmosphere. Sadly Eileen passed away on august 15, 1985.
Bill was a very sociable person by nature and his exploits with the band were the foundation of many a good yarn. He loved to play his beloved ' box' when the humour came on him and would entertain his family and friends on social occasions. A keen Chelsea supporter, he took great delight on their successes last season and was also a follower of his local John Mitchels football and Kerry Teams.
He loved animals and his nine cats were part of his family. Bill enjoyed meeting his friends for a drink in The Four Seasons or The Sportsfield Bar in Boherbee, where stories were added to with humour and fun.
Bill is survived by his family, brother Timmy, his 17 grandchildren and five great- grandchildren.
He was reposed at Hogan's Funeral Home on Thursday, August 30, followed by removal to St. John's Church. Requiem Mass was celebrated on Friday for the happy repose of his soul, with burial afterwards in Rath Cemetery.
Another chapter in the life and lore of music in Tralee closed with Bill's passing. No doubt a choir of angels and former musicians from the Gil O'Brien Band welcomed him at the pearly gates.