Wednesday 21 March 2018

Richie Blake was heavily involved in GAA throughout his life

The late Richie Blake
The late Richie Blake

Sara Gahan

County Wexford lost one of its most popular GAA Gaels last Saturday, February 24 when Richie Blake of 37 Esmonde Street, Gorey sadly passed away after a short illness in Gorey Hospital.

Richie was born in Frankfort, Leskinfere, Gorey in 1931. He started his working career in Reynold's Hardware on the Main Street, Gorey and then moved to Bolger's, where he worked for 44 years before his retirement.

During his time in Bolger's, he first worked in the hardware shop in Church Lane and then subsequently in the 'mill'. Richie epitomized everything that was good in his role.

He was honest, hard working, diligent, loyal, and dedicated in all his duties. It became known that if someone was looking for something specific or looking for the knowledge or information on how to do something, the reply was always 'ask Richie Blake'.

During his time in the 'mill' and especially harvest season, Richie always put the farmers first and especially outside of normal business hours.

On many occasions he would often answer a knock on the door at 11 p.m. and he would duly oblige opening up to receive a load of grain.

His outstanding dedication to his work and to the company was duly noted when Mr David Bolger MD handed him the honour of officially opening Bolger's new hardware store at Knockmullen in 1998.

Richie was also heavily involved in GAA throughout his life. When he was young he played underage and Junior with Valley Rovers.

In the early 1950s he was part of a group that founded the now St Patrick's GAA club. When he moved to live in Gorey, he played championship hurling with the Gorey Wolfe Tones.

After he finished playing he continued his role in the GAA. He served as Gorey District Secretary for six years. He was a member of the Wexford County Board Disciplinary Committee and was also a member of both the County Board Finance Committee and the County Board Fixtures Committee for many years.

For a number of years he was also Treasurer of Pairc Uí Siocháin GAA committee and also served as a valuable member for some years on the Seana Ghael committee.

For several years Richie was a member of the Gorey Little Theatre Group committee and on a few occasions was known to have taken to the stage for some of their Light Operas.

He was also a very keen table tennis player in his younger days. Above all else, he was a great family man. He married Kathleen Breen in the late 1950s and they had two children, RJ and Gail and his dedication to his family knew no bounds.

One of his great passions was growing vegetables year after year in the garden at the back of his home. Anyone who called in would always have their hands full when leaving with some home grown vegetables from Richie's garden.

He was a very good neighbour to all around and nothing was too much trouble for Richie and he endeared himself to all sections of the community.

On Monday, February 26, there was a huge attendance at Flood's Funeral Home where relations, friends, and community came to pay their last respects to a man whose popularity was immense in the GAA circles, in his time working in Bolger's and in the wider community.

A very large crowd was in attendance for the Requiem Mass in St. Michael's Church on Tuesday, February 26. A beautiful Mass was conducted by Fr Matt Boggan who spoke most sincerely about Richie and that he was a huge loss to his family, relatives, friends and the community and that he was truly one of life's 'True Gentlemen'.

Fr Boggan was assisted by Fr Brendan Nolan PP, Blackwater and by Fr James Cullen, Wexford. Richie will be sadly missed by son RJ, daughter Gail, daughter-in-law Ann, son-in-law Tom, grandchildren Gavin, Ann Marie, Richard and Jonathan, brother John, sisters Evelyn Furney and Connie Sunderland and relatives.

Gorey Guardian