THE tragic death of popular New Ross man Anthony Rochford has left his family and vast circle of friends people stunned and heartbroken.
Late of Tallacoolmore, Clonea, Waterford and Parkfield, New Ross, Anthony died on October 18, aged 47. He leaves behind his wife, Kathryn, children Anna and Jack, parents Ann and Sean; brother John; sisters Anne-Marie and Bríd, and extended family and friends.
Around 2,000 people bid their final farewell to the sportsman and Cumas worker at his wake in a funeral home in Dungarvan, with a huge crowd turning out for his funeral mass on Saturday in St. Vincent de Paul Church, Garranbane.
At the mass, his brother John paid a moving tribute to Anthony, describing a devoted family man.
“Anthony was a wonderful person with so many good attributes. He had an ability to make friends and build friendships, based on a foundation of genuine interest in people and caring for others. He had a great sense of humour as his delivery and timing were spot on.”
John said Anthony brought huge value to a conversation as his knowledge and recall on most things, in particular sport and history, were second to none. “My brother Anthony was a super star, I admired him in everything he did and achieved in life.”
He recalled how Anthony loved spending time at the Geraldine O’Hanrahan club sports ground, adding that it was apparent from a young age that Anthony was a special talent. “With the support of many great coaches and teammates he won many county championships underage. Anthony played for the Wexford Minors in 1993, only losing to Kilkenny who eventually beat Galway in the All Ireland – a proud moment for him and his family.”
On leaving school, Anthony decided to become a mental handicap nurse and was recognised at the entrance interview in Moore Abbey Monasterevin as having something special to offer. During these happy days, he developed some wonderful friendships with the people there and in particularly through a keen interest in hurling and music he met his best friend of now 28 years - Sean Dermody.
Once graduated, Anthony went to work in Cheeverstown House in Dublin, working and learning his trade in their residential and day care service. Anthony had a great way with people and offered huge support to the needs of many of the adults and children with intellectual disability attending.
While in Dublin, Anthony always maintained his friendships and connection with New Ross, returning to play and represent with distinction New Ross Golf Club or continuing to hurl with the Geraldine O’Hanrahan in their many pursuits for the return of senior hurling to the town.
In 2001 Anthony and John headed to Australia for the year. Anthony lined out for the Sydney Shamrock’s hurling team. He excelled and was known as the ‘safest hands in Sydney”, driving the team to success
Both Anthony and John met and fell in love with two Waterford ladies.
“Anthony was besotted with Kathryn from day one; I knew it was serious as he would ring home to tell our parent Anne and Seanie that she was such a lovely girl.”.
On return from Australia, Anthony worked again in Dublin and joined the Lucan Sarsfields GAA club, where he enjoyed playing for many year with his teammates.
As Anthony was looking to return to the south east to be closer to Kathryn, in 2006 he became the Staff Nurse for Cumas Day Care Centre in New Ross. There Anthony had the opportunity to apply his knowledge and experience in supporting local adults from families and parents known to Anthony, with many having played a key part in his own education and development. Anthony worked at Cumas for 16 years and thought of his work as his service to the community – more than a job. He was there for clients and parents in need, often outside of work hours.
In 2008, Anthony and Kathryn were married. Later they built a beautiful home and settled into life in the Clonea area near the sea.
Anthony was a devoted father who would spend every minute available with Kathryn and the children – between swimming and surfing in the evenings to horse riding, hockey, football, hurling and athletics.
Through his family he became immersed in the local community, playing soccer for Ballinroad, coaching the local camogie team at Abbeyside, being with the same bunch of girls taking them from under six to under ten’s with many of the drills and word of encouragement dating back some forty years ‘two hands on the hurl’, ‘don’t be tippy tappy’ or ‘nursing the ball’.
Known for his immaculate style and passion for his clubs, especially his childhood club, he had given a big speech to his team in Clonea the Friday night before he died.
“Anthony was the light in our family, lighting up every room with just his presence, we will remember him for all the great times.”
Addressing Kathryn, Anna and Jack, John said: “This was never part of Anthony’s plan. He so very much wanted to be part of your lives for as long as he could. You were the most important people in Anthony’s life. While your time together has been cut short, never forget how much he loved you and will be watching down over you, but know that all our family all your friends and wonderful neighbours will be here for you. We will remember him for all the great times.”
Anthony was laid to rest after the mass in St. Vincent de Paul Church cemetery.