Sunday 16 December 2018

Larry made the Oak Tree pub a haven for traditional music


The late Larry Purcell.
The late Larry Purcell.

Laurence (Larry) Purcell of the Oak Tree, Foulkmills, previously of Kiltealy, passed away at his home on February 1 following a brief illness.

Larry was one of four children born in Kiltealy to parents Madge and Tommy; his brothers being Jim and John, and he had a sister Mary.

At a young age Larry showed great potential as a promising hurler with Duffry Rovers, winning a Rackard League title in 1961. His team mates of the time remember him as a skilful and talented hurler, but that he also had a tough streak.

In his late teens Larry left Kiltealy, moved to Dublin and began his association with the pub trade, working in O'Donoghue's pub on Merrion Row, where the Dubliners were formed and performed regularly.

Later he crossed the water where in worked in Jersey and then on to London. Larry learned his way in many 5 star hotels and upmarket bars throughout London.

His love of sport, politics and the daily news ensured Larry always had a topic to debate with the punters, and these debates led to long friendships being established.

The young man from Kiltealy found he could mix it with the stock brokers, celebrities and famous musicians that came his way. Larry even got to spend some time with his long time favourite musician, Luke Kelly, during that period.

Larry was a real lover of all sports but he had a passion for horse racing. Many hours were spent studying the form, debating the merits of one owner, jockey or horse over another. Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown were highlights of the year.

Larry had a real treat a few years ago when he visited Coolmore Stud in Co. Tipperary, owned by John Magnier.

1n 1994 Larry returned to Ireland and fulfilled his dream of operating his own business. With his partner Mary McGee, the two formed a formidable partnership and have built the Oak Tree in Foulksmills into the heartbeat of the community.

Over the years Larry has played host to birthday parties of all descriptions, weddings and christenings with Larry's signature stylish shirts and champagne popping bringing 'a little taste of London to Foulksmills', as he would often say.

He brought countless trad musicians to the Foulksmills pub over the years and the Oak Tree, over which he lived, has gained a reputation for excellent live music under his tenure. When he wasn't behind the bar counter, Larry could often be found out walkng his dogs at the beach.

He was a keen gardener who was a regular visitor to garden centres, adorning the side of his with bursts of colour - and creating wonderful window boxes, filled with flowers.

Throughout his time in the area Larry supported many local clubs including Clongeen GAA, Stoney Rovers Soccer Club, the Forge Vintage Club and many more. It was this support and Larry's upbeat and generous nature that ensured he was taken to heart by the community and Foulksmills area soon became his adopted home. The packed church in Clongeen, as well as the hundreds of people who attended his reposal, was a testament to the esteem Larry was held in.

The funeral Mass in Clongeen was a celebration of Larry's life, especially his love of music, with local musicians, backed by the local choir, performing beautifully.

There were four guards of honour from Larry's former club, Duffry Rovers, Clongeen GAA Club, Clongeen Ladies Football GAA Club and the Forge Vintage Club. Mary's nephew William Colfer, who worked with Larry, paid a warm tribute to his former colleague. Gifts including a copy of The Racing Post, a memento from the bar and items of interest regarding Larry's love of other sports and music were brought to the altar. His month's mind takes place on Friday, March 2 at 7.30 p.m. in Clongeen Church. Larry is survived by Mary; his brother, John and is deeply missed by his loving family; sisters-in-law; brother-in-law; nieces; nephews; grand nieces; grand nephews; relatives and friends. He was predeceased by his brother Jim and sister, the late Mary (Rowe).

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