Wednesday 16 October 2019

David was a man of immense integrity


The late David Hasslacher
The late David Hasslacher

Brendan Keane

People throughout Enniscorthy were saddened recently to learn of the tragic passing of David Hasslacher (80), from Clonhaston.

Very involved in the local community he was one of the most highly respected people in the town and district and that was underlined by the large number of people who gathered for his funeral mass in St Aidan's Cathedral on Thursday, March 14.

Born in England to a British father and Irish mother, the family moved to Enniscorthy when he was a young boy.

His mother was a Roche, from the famous malting family, and she brought David back to Co Wexford because of the outbreak of World War II; he was accompanied by his two brothers, Michael and Robin.

He was home schooled here after the war but returned to England to complete his education at the Oratory, in London.

On leaving school, at the age of 18, he went into national service as a royal marine, ultimately achieving the prestigious status of commando.

During his time in the military he spent time in Cyprus and Malta , after which he returned to Ireland to farm.

He grew strawberries for a period of time in addition to his other farming endeavours.

David also worked for Albright and Wilson, a chemical manufacturing company that specialised in fertiliser.

In 1970 he bought a farm in Screen and it was around that time that he also got involved in the malting barley business with Minch Norton

The Hasslacher name is synonymous with Enniscorthy castle and David's great-grandfather, having rebuilt and renovated the iconic building, gave it to his son, David's grandfather, as a wedding present.

David, along with his mother and brothers were the last family to call the castle home.

Passionate about sport, he played a very significant role with Enniscorthy Rugby Club and was one of the founder members of the club's youth section. His own inherent talent for the game saw him play the game up to Leinster junior provincial level.

He was a person who loved helping others and had an in-depth knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects.

He imparted that knowledge for the benefit of others but as his son Richard pointed out conversing with people was a two-way street for David.

'He loved engaging with people. He was selfless in passing his knowledge onto others, which in turn gave him great satisfaction,' said Richard.

David was also a man of great spiritual faith and that was something that gave him a lot of inner strength

'His faith was very important to him,' said Richard. He was very interested in looking at the role the church could play in younger people's lives and was actively involved in making that connection with the next generation of the congregation,' he added.

'Along with other parishioners, he spent time, via a series of in-class workshops, garnering feedback from teenagers on how they wanted to connect with the church with a view to presenting the findings back to the Bishop. '

David was the type of person who always gave 100 per cent commitment to causes he was passionate about.

As Richard pointed out: 'He was not the type of man to sit idly by if he felt something needed to change. He would always look to affect change.'

David was a man of his word and a person of great sincerity and integrity.

'He always followed through. He was loyal, reliable and sound.'

He married his wife, Irene, who was originally from New Ross, in 1973, and although the couple divorced in 2000 they remained in close contact. The couple had three children: Ian, Richard and Emma.

In 1984, David sold the farm in Screen and the family moved to Crossabeg where they rented a house while looking for a new home of their own.

In 1987, he bought a farm in Clonhaston from his cousin and that's where he remained ever since.

He had a long-time involvement with the Ferns diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes and that was a big part of his life. In addition to his role with the pilgrimage from Co Wexford, each year he also helped out with other international pilgrimages in the week before his own group began theirs.

His willingness to help out in whatever way he could and his selfless nature saw him take on the role of Santa Claus for a local school at Christmas - much to the delight of the children.

David's passion for life was infectious and he loved having the craic with friends and family.

He also had a very keen interest in music with a particular fondness for both the classical and trad genres.

Although he wasn't blessed with a strong singing voice he had great rhythm and that was highlighted by his ability on the spoons and the bodhran - which he took up five years ago at the age of 75.

He travelled to the Aran Islands to attend a bodhran course for three years-in-a-row and he also played with a ceili band in Kilmore.

David was also involved with another well-known music act called Celtic Roots.

Music played a major part in his birthday celebrations in June when he turned 80.

Passionate about nature David was extremely knowledgeable about trees. He was equally renowned for his great love of dogs.

His can-do mentality was something that he displayed in every aspect of his life and although he had entered his ninth decade of life his physical appearance and general disposition was that of a person 15 or 20 years younger.

Mental health was an area of great interest to him and he had a special regard for the mental well-being of younger people. It was an issue that affected him personally for periods of his life.

He qualified as a life coach when he was 77 and coached many young people who were struggling to find their way.

It was just one of many positive traits in a man that everyone liked and respected.

His passing has left a huge void in the lives of his family, relatives and friends.

At his graveside his daughter, Emma, recited 'Epitaph on a friend', by Robert Byrnes, which was very fitting as her Dad was someone who enjoyed the friendship of many people throughout his life, while his sons Ian and Richard gave a fitting eulogy at the service.

David's requiem mass was celebrated in St Aidan's Cathedral, Enniscorthy, at 12 noon on Thursday, March 14, with burial afterwards in St Mary's Cemetery.

He is survived by his children, Ian, Richard and Emma, his brothers, Michael and Robin, the mother of his children, Irene and her family, relatives and large circle of friends.

David's months mind mass will be offered in St Aidan's Cathedral, Enniscorthy, on Sunday, April 21, at 11 a.m.

Enniscorthy Guardian