The dying wish of former Irish Ferries captain Ronnie Gordon who worked for many years on the French ferry route from Rosslare Harbour, was to be buried at sea.
Ronnie (76) of Orchard Lane, Ardcavan passed away on January 19 following a short illness and his family will fulfil his last request when they scatter his ashes in the ocean later this year on the journey to France that he sailed so many times.
Ronnie is survived by his beloved wife Phyllis; grown-up children Helen and Donal; his grandchildren Grace, Eoin, Ivy, Niamh and Arlo; son-in-law Glenn; daughter-in-law Bobbie; sister-in-law Jackie, brother-in-law Denis and extended family and friends.
In the many condolences and tributes paid following his death, one word kept cropping up – “gentleman” . Ronnie was a consummate gentleman, in his personal and his working life. “A true gentleman to sail with”, one former colleague wrote in a typical message to his family.
Born in 1946, Ronnie grew up in Lambert Place, then known as Bunker’s Hill in Wexford town, an only child of the late Donald and Bridie Gordon, his sister Helen having sadly predeceased him as a baby.
He attended the Faythe national school and later the CBS secondary school but only stayed there for a few years as his yearning for adventure became too great to ignore.
In a eulogy during funeral Mass in St Ibar’s Cemetery, Castlebridge, his son Donal said his dad got a job on a deep sea boat out of Wexford and set off to explore the world.
"By his 20th birthday he had been around the world twice and there wasn’t a country in the world pretty much that he hadn’t seen. He always said Japan was his favourite place.
"Throughout his time at sea, he had many adventures and experienced everything from tsunamis to hurricanes and earthquakes. He made life-long friends, some of whom are here today.”
Donal said Ronnie was always truly happy when at sea and no matter what place abroad was mentioned, he would have a story to tell about his time there.
Ronnie met Phyllis at a Nurses’ Ball in Kelly’s Hotel, Rosslare in 1974. The couple were married in 1977 and moved into the home that Ronnie built in Orchard Lane. When his children came along, he proved himself to be a devoted dad.
During the Mass, his grandchildren brought gifts to the altar, symbolising their granddad’s life – Grace and Arlo carried up jigsaws as a reminder of all the time Ronnie spent building jigsaws in his hobby room. He would spend hours every afternoon doing jigsaws and took great pride in showing off the finished works.
Niamh brought up a scrabble board, representing another favourite hobby. Some of Ronnie’s happiest times centred around board games. He loved playing a new board game with the family at Christmas. The scrabble board also reminded everyone of his avid membership of Wexford Scrabble Club and his many trips around Ireland playing scrabble.
When the grandchildren were asked what reminded them of their granddad, they also listed his chair and his television remote control which was brought up by Ivy. They remember him in his chair and the fun they had rocking on it with him or making him get out of it to sit on the floor with them.
Eoin brought up a ship that he gave his granddad as a present, which symbolised Ronnie’s love of the sea and which had pride of place on the mantelpiece from the moment he received it.
A cremation service took place in the Victorian Chapel at Mount Jerome Crematorium in Harold’s Cross, Dublin at which Ronnie’s son-in-law Glenn read a poem by JR Tolkien from Lord of the Rings which includes the following lines:
“Day is ended, dim my eyes but journey long before me lies.
Farewell friends! I hear the call. The ship’s beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey; beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free; I hear the rising of the sea.”