A farewell to Jack
Wicklow and Carnew have lost one of their finest men
A large crowd arrived in Carnew and subsequently in Tomacork cemetery last Thursday afternoon to bid farewell to a Wicklow and Carnew GAA legend, Jack Kilbride, who passed away on Monday.
Remembered by some mourners as a true leader and a man who you listened to when he spoke, the turnout at the great man's funeral is testament to the high regard and respect in which he was held.
Wicklow GAA stalwart Jimmy Dunne delivered a beautiful oration graveside and to do justice to the memory of Jack Kilbride we publish it here for you to read.
It is a special honour and a humbling experience to pay tribute to Jack Kilbride on this sad occasion.
It is a special honour because the tribute is directed towards one of Wicklow's finest sons, a man whose enormous stature will leave a shadow which will linger long and proudly across the fields and hillsides of his beloved Garden County.
It is a humbling experience because the sad burden which death has laid on his wife and family, his many colleagues and his multitude of friends has brought home to us once again the enormity of just how much Jack meant to Wicklow and Carnew for so many years and equally important, how much Wicklow and Carnew meant to Jack all his life.
We know that if there was a single thread running through that life, a thread which united all different strands of his being, it was a compelling love for his club and county, and its people which motivated him in everything he did.
He gave expression to that love through his commitment to the Gaelic Athletic Association, a commitment which was total and unswerving, and which covered the entire spectrum of the GAA activities from being a youthful player of great skill and tenacity, through his years as a stalwart of his club both on and off the field.
His achievements on the field have been well recorded suffice to say since the GAA was established in Wicklow over 133 years ago no player has achieved so much.
He successfully captained his club to every major adult competition in both hurling and football and captained his club to both senior titles in 1973. His record for the county is equally impressive. He wore the Blue and Gold of Wicklow with distinction for many years wining Leinster honours in 1964.
But if medals were all that mattered then we would not be here in such numbers today to honour the memory of Jack Kilbride.
As proud as he was of his medals and his playing achievements, he was prouder still of his club and his parish and of the men and women who held to the values he cherished, who shared his advice and whom he was proud to represent at County Board level.
When he received the Wicklow Hall of Fame in 2007 he acknowledged it was as much for his club as it was for him.
He was Chairman of the County Hurling Board for three years and was a member of the County Board for over two decades where his contributions were always positive and respected.
He was also Chairman of his club where his enthusiasm and leadership were crucial in many of the clubs greatest victories. His infectious passion was corralled by the generosity of his spirit and because he was such a genuinely fine man, players responded to him and he got the best out of them.
Through Jack's musical ability and Ettie's talent for writing and ballad signing they travelled all over Leinster visiting the "House of Stories" where they contributed to many a night's entertainment.
These of course are the public acts of service for which Jack was widely known and admired. But there was also the dedication of the private man.: a contribution which may not win public acclaim but which often offers a more accurate assessment of a man's true worth.
Many people in Carnew and the surrounding area will testify to the fact that you could not have a better neighbour than Jack and a more willing hand in times of trouble, and more ready to share ones' joys in good times and offer support when needed.
Jack was a man of strong faith, dignity and sincerity, born out of the brown earth of the Garden County to which we have returned his mortal remains, and over which his spirit will long remain.
We have lost a colleague, a mentor and a friend, and we mourn his passing. How great then is his departure from the people he loved most of all, his wife Ettie, and his family, of whom he was so proud.
They were the core of his life, the centrepiece around which his work revolved and without whom he would not have been the man we knew respected and admired.
They alone will measure the real loss of the man they knew from the family circle, which prospered out of mutual respect which they shared with one other. The beautiful, magnificent way in which the family cared for Jack throughout his illness reflected the goodness of the man himself, and gave him the inner peace which he deserved.
We are all here today because we share the sorrow of the family. His wife Ettie, his son Denis daughters Deirdre and Maeve along his sister Breda and many other family members.
In one way or another we were all made better by having Jack Kilbride walk amongst us and by sharing his friendship.
That great Irish Poet Sigerson Clifford wrote:-
When the wheel of life runs out and peace comes over me
Just take me back to that old town between the hills and sea.
I'll take my rest in those green fields, the place where life began
With the boys from Bárr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.
Slán agus go raibh míle maith agat a Shéan.
May the green sod of his native Wicklow rest lightly on his bosom.