Wednesday 16 October 2019

Remarkable man who had a dream...

The founder of Scoraiocht Lannleire, John Flanagan, passed away last week, but the people of Dunleer said farewell in true style. Hubert Murphy reports

He shall not hear the bittern cry

In the wild sky, where he is lain,

Nor voices of the sweeter birds

Above the wailing of the rain.

Nor shall he know when loud March blows

Thro' slanting snows her fanfare shrill,

Blowing to flame the golden cup

Of many an upset daffodil.

But when the dark cow leaves the moor,

And pastures poor with greedy weeds,

Perhaps he'll hear her low at morn

Lifting her horn in pleasant meads.'

The words from a past era, of a difficult time, the passing of a true hero, a man so many adored.

Francis Ledwidge, the warrior poet, wrote the 'Lament for Thomas MacDonagh' after the death of his great friend and how fitting that Ledwidge's great words of appreciation and inspiration were again heard from Fr Michael Murtagh at John Flanagan's funeral mass.

The Reflection, in St Brigid's Church last Wednesday, tore at the very soul, for here too, Dunleer said goodbye to a man who loved Ireland so much.

John was the man who inspired the dream of Scoraiocht Lannleire and ultimately its home on the Barn Road.

For years, as part of his fundraising drive, crossroads ceilis would take place on the highways and byways of the area. Finally the funds were raised the dream was realised.

Last week, John rested in the Teach Nua for the last time and for eight hours people from all over the country filed past to say farewell.

Musicians played and stories were told and Dunleer of old was fresh in the memory again.

His funeral mass was a celebration of life, not death, as musicians raised the roof for hin, the Sally Gardens to uplifting tunes, in true John Flanagan style.

Fr Murtagh said the previous few days told a story of great love where John was concerned.

He said his wife Dolly and son, Sean, would have gotten a glimpse of the 'respect and appreciation' the whole community had for John.

'You will have many wonderful memories, a wonderful heritage, we have taken leave of a remarkable man.'

He said John had ovecome adversity in his life and he was remarkable in his 'heritage, service and strength of character'.

He had come from remarkable families, families still the backbone of the local area and local initiatives.

'You have the support of the community and generations of musicians who will remember him fondly.'

He said only a certain generation would really remember the role of the 'remarkable figure' of the local breadman, a profession John was in for many years.

Fr Murtagh's own upbringing, in the border area, left him with a vivid memory of the breadman, of people like John and his father before him.

'The batch loaves and the sticky buns and the comics. The breadman had a great skill in dealing with people and he brought the news,' he added. His said people like John and his father were 'magical'.

John's great love was Irish music and song and it would be recorded in stone.

'He had a vision for the community in terms of music and dance and with others he saw it take a concrete form.'

He hoped the family could take comfort from the goodwill, love and respect that the whole community had for John.

'We take the moment to say thanks for all he left behind,' Fr Murtagh added, as John began his final journey to Mosstown.

And as he left, maybe one could hear the faint shrills of the 'Walls of Limerick or the 'Siege of Ennis'....and the days outside the crossroads at the Tavern and the Grange Inn swept past again.

John was predeceased by his brother Peter, twin sister Peggy (Carroll) and Celia (Alcott). and is sadly missed by his wife, Dolly, son, Sean, daughter-in-law Wendy (née Fay), grandsons Donal and Cormac, sister Mary (Grimes), brothers Tom, Joe, Mickey, Tony and Oliver, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, neighbours, relatives and friends.

Drogheda Independent