Goodbye to a dedicated man who never sought limelight
They came from far and wide, from the Sandpit Road to Cooley, from Brussels to the Boyne, all here for one thing, one family, one man.
Termonfeckin was united in a strange grief last Saturday morning. The death of Oliver Tully, suddenly, the previous Tuesday, sparked a melancholy cloud that didn't lift.
Gone was someone who just adored these lanes and byways where he was born and bred. A wonderful family man, an educator and a councillor, he simply worked for people and never sought the limelight in return.
Political and community figures from around the region were all part of his final journey, flanking his coffin as Townley's - as ever - saw that everything was just right.
Along the road into the church, students from Scoil Ui Mhuiri in Dunleer paid their respects and members of Co Louth Golf Club too. His colleagues in Louth CC and officials such as Chief Executive Joan Martin stood in silence, shocked at the loss of such an ambassador for local politics.
Fr Paul Clayton-Lea led the concelebrated mass with Fr Joseph, Fr Aidan Murphy and Fr Phil Gaffney and spoke of the 'heavy heart' that brought everyone to the church where Oliver, Eileen and the family celebrated so many family milestones. As he remarked, Oliver was a reader 35 years ago, even before Fr Clayton-Lea was ordained.
Oliver had an interest in many organisations through his work as a councillor and volunteer, answering many of their prayers in times of need. Today, they would pray for him.
'Oliver never sought the limelight and worked gently and quietly and relentlessly on behalf of the community. His loss leaves a gaping wound in the hearts of his family and a genuine loss to those that knew him,' he stated.
He worked in St Joseph's CBS in Drogheda and was 'firm and calm' and in later years, when his students left, they'd come back and ask for guidance, knowing he'd always steer them in the right direction.
That he felt came from Oliver's early experience. He was eight years old when he saw a teacher hit a child with a piece of wood. He reached out, grabbed the wood and threw it in the fire. He saw power misued that day and vowed that would not be his road.
'He was driven into politics by the needs of people,' Fr Paul rremarked, involved in projects in his beloved Baltray, like cleaning the grotto. He listened to others and worked hard, but always had the backing of his 'rock' - Eileen and the family.
In an impassioned plea, Fr Paul said the world needed people like Oliver more than ever. 'He was a big guy with a big heart for the welfare of others. Today, he'd just say to you all, thank you for being here. Thank you Oliver for your dedicated and humble service. May all his good deeds go with him.'
His family spoke of a 'loving, kind and honest hardworking father' and a man who was their 'biggest supporter'.
"One night I dreamed a dream.
I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.
When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. There was only one set of footprints. I realized that this was at the lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.
"Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk and talk with me all the way. But I'm aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don't understand why, when I need You most, You leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you."