Life-long Blackrock boy, dedicated to education, sport and trade union affairs
JOE McGrath, who died aged 65, on November 5 after a long illness, was a long-serving school teacher and former past pupil of Blackrock College, Dublin. Although loyal to the long rugby tradition of the college, his most celebrated achievement was in 2003, when as trainer of the Senior Soccer Team, with a squad featuring Dublin GAA footballer Mark Vaughan, he led his charges to success in the All-Ireland Under-17 Cup. Patrolling the touchline for much of the long campaign, with a linesman's flag in one hand, and a Hamlet cigar in the other, he cut a distinctive and vocal figure, and afterwards greatly relished the addition to Blackrock's sporting laurels.
His knowledge of all sports was encyclopaedic, and rivalled that of RTE's Jimmy Magee, but this was in no way to the detriment of a life-long dedication to music, especially opera, reading and travel.
When Joe was a child in central Dublin in the late Fifties, his father was proprietor of the Cosmo House bar, beside the now equally defunct Theatre Royal in Hawkins Street. Joe recalled warmly being taken to such varied performers as Maureen Potter, Bob Hope and the Vienna Boys Choir in the latter, and intermittent barrings of Brendan Behan from the former.
As befitted an exceptional student when at Blackrock, he became a dedicated and respected member of the College Science Department for many years, and a highly popular if occasionally idiosyncratic teacher to generations of pupils, as well as a committed Asti shop steward for much of that time.
Joe, who was a bachelor, was a well-known figure in Blackrock where he lived all his life. The very large and diverse attendance at his Removal and Funeral Mass, in St John the Baptist Church, Blackrock, bore eloquent witness to a characterful and multi-faceted person, who will be much missed.