Eamon O Cúiv among those to attend Bruach na Carraige event to celebrate a man who has contributed much as a politician, IRD Duhallow board member and mentor for musicians
Rockchapel native Jack Roche could be compared to a diamond, his life story portraying so many different facets, each enriching the lives of countless people over the years.
Jack’s work as a politician, a board member of IRD Duhallow and a mentor for traditional musicians was honoured by a large gathering last week at Bruach na Carraige in Rockchapel, where he has been a proud custodian since its opening in 1999.
Eamon Ó Cúiv travelled from Galway to celebrate with his long-time friend and recounted how he had many lengthy conversations with Jack about how best to support rural areas.
“I first met Jack on a sunny summer morning up at his farm in 1989 while I was canvassing for the Senate; we hit it off because of a common interest in the Irish language, culture, music and rural development. Jack was a great ally of mine when I became Minister for Rural Development and was hugely supportive of the development of the CLÁR Programme. He has done Trojan work and made a huge contribution to the lives of countless people over the years,” Eamon said.
Maura Walsh, CEO of IRD Duhallow, said it was almost impossible to encapsulate the contribution Jack has made to IRD.
“You came onto our board initially as a county councillor and are now representing the active retired. You served as chairman and you built up a rapport with each and every one of us, past and present, ready to offer words of encouragement and support, always with a ‘can do’ attitude,” Maura said.
She outlined how Jack represented IRD on the National Leader Association and was elected chair of that organisation, going on to represent Leader in Europe and taking on the role of president.
“You rejuvenated the organisation by visiting every Leader network, urging them to join together for strength and unity, and you were recognised from the outset as a man passionate about rural Ireland, with a finger firmly on its pulse, not afraid to speak up for what you believed in. Jack enjoys the respect of the champions of rural development, not only in Duhallow, but right across Europe,” Maura added.
Michael Moynihan TD described Jack as an inspiration.
“When I first joined the Cumann in 1986, Jack inspired me so much with his commitment to our party, and if I could be half as good a public representative as Jack, then I will be happy,” Michael said, recounting how Jack served as a County Councillor for several years and almost got elected to the Dáil in 1987.
The Bruach na Carraige Theatre in Rockchapel is another of Jack’s legacies, and the gifted group of Sliabh Luachra performers who entertained at the event are a testament to his commitment to encouraging and preserving Irish culture, music and dance. Maurice O’Keeffe, speaking on behalf of the group, said that his earliest memory of Jack was at the summer music school.
“Jack always showed a keen interest in the musicians who attended here and can take a lot of the credit for much of the talent on stage here tonight. The many opportunities and experiences he has given so many people have been invaluable,” Maurice said.
In addition to mentoring young musicians at the music school, Jack took the group on tour all over Ireland, to the EU and Sweden. “We are truly delighted to be here tonight to celebrate the legend that is Jack Roche,” Maurice added.
The man of the moment thanked everybody who came to celebrate with him, and all those who helped organise the event.
“I have enjoyed my time working with young people, they are an inspiration, and we must continue to preserve the music and dance of our country, this is vitally important,” Jack said.