Sylvester Carolan loved his family with ‘every ounce of his being’

The late Sylvester Carolan.

New Ross Standard

The death occurred recently of Sylvester Carolan, late of Clonlard, Duncannon, a gentleman and extraordinary father.

Sylvester passed away peacefully on April 29, aged 85.

The beloved husband of the late Josephine, he is greatly missed by his children Sylvester, Mary, Tom and Angela, stepson Paul, stepdaughter Alison and siblings Michael, Vincy and Mary.

Sylvester was a man who loved his family deeply. He saw the good in the world. He loved people. He loved talking with people and hearing their stories. He had an adventurous, playful spirit and loved to travel, but no place meant more to him than his beloved home – Ireland.

Sylvester was born on the family farm in Virginia, Co Cavan, on June 2, 1937, the fourth youngest of 11 children.

It was on the farm where Sylvester learnt the importance of hard work, gratitude and generosity. He was raised to treat all people with dignity and respect.

Like many young Irishmen of the time, Sylvester was ambitious and wanted to be able to provide for a family that he hoped to have one day. Therefore, when he was 20 years old he left Ireland and travelled to Australia, where he worked for three years on a project building a tunnel through the Snowy Mountains.

Aged 23, he left Australia and travelled home to Ireland to marry his sweetheart, Judy.

Following their wedding, Sylvester and Judy left Ireland and moved to London to start a family.

Over the following years, Sylvester and Judy had four children, but life was tough in London and they suffered through many adversities, sickness and hard times.

But through it all, Sylvester never lost his faith in the church and the goodness of people. He suffered in silence, not wanting to burden those around him.

Then when Judy died at the very young age of 40, he became a single father. Raising four children and very often working two jobs so that he could afford the little extras, or to take his family on the occasional holiday. His children remember him working his day job and then coming home to have dinner with them, before leaving for his night job. He was the hardest working person they’ve ever known.

But even as a single dad working two jobs, he always found time for the fun stuff, drives in the country, day trips to the seaside or outings to a park.

A funny anecdote from this time was recalled at his funeral mass at St Aidan's Church, Poulfur by his son/daughter (insert here).

While at a park the children found a rope swing hanging from a tree branch on the bank of a small pond. They were taking it in turns swinging back and forth, when Sylvester announced that they were doing it all wrong and he could show them how to really get the thing swinging.

So he grabbed a hold of the rope and started swinging. He then decided he should hang upside down from the rope, but somehow he got stuck hanging upside down from the rope. As he was begging the children to help him down, all of his money began falling out of his pockets.

"The four kids started scrambling to grab as much of it as possible while he was stuck swinging from the rope. We were all crying with laughter, while the ‘Cavan man’ in him pleaded for his money back!”

As a single dad he was amazing. He cooked for his kids, he cleaned, he did the laundry, he took them on holidays to Ireland, Blackpool and Cornwall.

"He made us laugh and he loved us with every ounce of his being! We were so proud of our dad and to have our friends meet him. He was a hero to us!”

Sylvester was a shining example of how people should treat each other, everyday.

In 1983, through the Irish Center in Camden Town London, Sylvester met and married Josie Connell.

Josie had two children, Paul and Allison. Sylvester and Josie were married for 38 years, until Josie passed away in 2021. Josie had suffered for many years with Alzheimer's disease before her death.

For their last few years together, Sylvester would visit Josie everyday at the nursing home, sitting with her, holding her hand and telling her the latest news. He never gave up the hope that something he said was getting through to Josie.

He always said that there was a glimmer of hope that if something did register with Josie, it could maybe, provide her with some semblance of comfort. Sylvester’s love for Josie was endless.

The family have many happy memories of their time with Sylvester and Josie including dances at the Irish Center in Camden and Christmas catch ups.

Sylvester was so proud of his Irishness, he carried it with dignity, kindness, generosity and a fun-loving spirit. He was loved by all that knew him, he was honest, trustworthy and had an inner strength that carried him and his family.

Sylvester was laid to rest in the new Cemetery, Poulfur.

He is sadly missed by his sons, daughters, grandchildren Michael, Isabel, Connor, Keira, Hayley, Taylor, Julia, Ben, Luke, Amy and Molly, siblings, nephews, nieces, extended family and friends. He was predeceased by Tom-Joe, Owen, Phil, Pat, Jimmy, John and Elizabeth.

May he rest in peace.