Wednesday 7 December 2016

Tributes pour in for former GAA President Jack

Published 11/05/2016 | 02:30

The GAA is mourning the loss of former President Jack Boothman, who died yesterday after an illness (SPORTSFILE)
The GAA is mourning the loss of former President Jack Boothman, who died yesterday after an illness (SPORTSFILE)

The President of the GAA has led tributes to former GAA president and "lifelong activist" Jack Boothman who has passed away.

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Mr Boothman, who marked his 80th birthday last year, was the first ever Protestant president of the GAA, between 1994 and 1997.

He was also known for his involvement in the campaign to abolish Rule 21, which prevented members of the British forces from joining the organisation, during the redevelopment of Croke Park.

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail said Mr Boothman was not only synonymous with the GAA, he was a man he considered to be a friend and "served the GAA with distinction," while president.

Former GAA president, MEP Sean Kelly called him "a wonderful Gael" with a "great sense of humour and very generous".

Mr Boothman, who was a veterinarian, was the face of the GAA in his home county of Wicklow where he was an active, lifetime member of the Blessington GAA club and club trustee until his death yesterday following an illness.

"He was very strong-minded about it," recalled Wicklow County Board chairman Martin Coleman, who also paid tribute to his late friend as "a very good friend to all of us."

He was well liked and respected amongst the GAA hierarchy, but he had a special affinity with young players, Mr Coleman said.

"He loved working with youth and he would always be the first one to come over and shake their hands," he said.

Blessington GAA club chairman Michael Sargent said the grandfather and father-of-six was regarded as a "father figure" by the club's members and the wider community at large as a former player, secretary, president and chairman.

But he will also be remembered as a true gentleman, he said.

"You knew by just looking at him that he was genial and cordial," Mr Sargent said.

The club has closed its pitches and facilities for the rest of the week as a mark of respect.

Mr Boothman, who made history as the first ever Protestant president of the GAA, had previously played down being a member of the Church of Ireland.

He said in an interview: "I never saw it as a reason for publicity. I'm taken aback at the interest people have expressed."

Along with bringing in Guinness as the prize corporate sponsor of hurling under his watch, he also reigned during a time of revolution in hurling in the mid-1990s.

He presented the Liam McCarthy Cup to underdogs Offaly, Clare and Wexford between 1994 and 1996 at a time when Cork, Kilkenny and Tipperary ruled inter-county hurling.

He is survived by his wife Nuala and their children Siobhan, Patricia, Catriona, Janet, Robert and John.

His remains will repose at his home in Troopersfield, Blessington, from 2pm tomorrow and from 10am to noon on Friday. His funeral will be at 3pm in St Mary's Church, Blessington. Interment will take place at Burgage Cemetery.

Irish Independent

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