The death occurred recently of a man who contributed greatly to New Ross, Michael Hanrahan.
Late of Lower South Knock, Michael was born in New Ross on March 19, 1943, to parents Elsie and Dick Hanrahan.
It was a hectic household at Charles Street which Michael shared with his four siblings, Nora (now Sister Christopher), Mary, Martin and John.
Michael had a strong relationship with his brothers and sisters throughout his life and they were always there for each other in good times and bad.
In his youth he was a keen sportsman and in particular was an outstanding hurler, with his love of GAA being inculcated by his father who was a senior hurler and footballer for Wexford.
Michael had expectations of making the Wexford minor team until an accident in 1959 hospitalized him for six weeks and ended his hurling career.
In what proved to be a wise decision, Michael opted to join the family general drapery business. After a three year period of ‘doing his service’ and learning the trade at Hadden’s in Wexford, Michael returned to New Ross. He immediately threw himself into the local community, a passion which stayed with him throughout his life.
One of his earliest community projects was founding the local Junior Chamber of Commerce, whom he led to second place in the first Tops of the Town Competition held in New Ross, something he was always immensely proud.
Michael was also Chairman of the New Ross Scouts Parents committee, board member of New Ross Community Workshop, member of the New Ross Lions Club, organiser of the Mayor of New Ross charity drive and treasurer of the New Ross Traders Association.
In one of the most significant projects to improve the town of New Ross, Michael joined with five other local business leaders in 1990 to finance and oversee the construction and marketing of the advance factory, which ultimately became the Lake Region facility currently providing hundreds of jobs in the town.
His biggest contribution to the town however came from his work with St Vincent DePaul and the Meals on Wheels. Michael had a genuine concern for his fellow man, and he was an active and committed member of both organisations and was generous both financially and with his time.
In parallel with his community work Michael was also building up the retail business with his wife Noreen.
What started as a single shop at 17 North Street grew to four businesses within the town, each of which overtime became institutions in their own right. The Shoe Shop was added in 1966, Blossoms Boutique in 1979 and Mr H Menswear in 1985.
Three of the shops continue to be expertly managed to this day by Margaret O’Hanlon, who purchased them when Michael and Noreen retired in 2008. The Finn family later acquired 17 North Street which continues to trade as a very successful retail business.
Despite his business success and community achievements Michael was always very clear that his greatest accomplishment in life was winning the heart of his wife Noreen. They met on Shrove Tuesday in 1964 at the Majestic Hotel in Tramore and it was genuinely love at first sight.
Michael always said Noreen was his closest and truest friend and they lived life as devoted companions. They married in May 1969 and ultimately welcomed four children into this world, Kieran, Mike, Denise and Fiona and in later years enjoyed time with his eight grandchildren.
Outside of family, business and community Michael was a dedicated and enthusiastic golfer and went on many golf trips with his friends in the town, a special favourite being ‘Trev’s Tours’ organised by Trevor Campbell.
Despite many decades of practice, lessons and playing, to his enduring frustration Michael was never as proficient a golfer as he would have liked. Following his retirement from golf, his coffee mornings at the Dunbrody became a highlight of his week where he held court with many friends.
Michael was quite introverted but nevertheless was a popular figure in the local community.
He had a very quick wit and dry sense of humour, which he enjoyed sharing at any opportune moment (and occasionally non-opportune moments).
While he struggled with illness for the last five years of his life, his good attitude and unfailing good humour never left him.
Just two weeks shy of his 80th birthday, he held strong for longer than many of his family and friends thought possible and that is a testament to the incredible care and love Noreen gave him.
He fought valiantly to the end but ultimately died peacefully on March 2nd, 2023, surrounded by family. He is survived by his wife Noreen, four children, eight grandchildren and his four siblings. He was dearly loved and will be sorely missed.
May he rest in peace.