Rowe Street Church was packed to overflowing on Monday afternoon for the funeral Mass of former Wexford hurling legend and gentleman of stature Ned Wheeler of Fisher's Row who sadly passed away last Friday at the age of 87.
The Faythe Harriers man was a key member of the memorable Wexford team that won All-Ireland Hurling finals in 1955, 1956 and 1960. He played at centre forward or midfield in a side that boasted greats such as Nicky and Bobby Rackard, Art Foley and Nick O' Donnell.
A native of Laois, he spent his early years in Kilkenny before settling in Wexford town in his teens. He is survived by his beloved wife Kathleen; his children Ann, Marie, Catherine and Ursula; his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and his extended family and friends.
A private cremation ceremony took place in Dublin on Monday following a simple Requiem Mass in Rowe Street Church which was celebrated by Fr. James Cullen with Monsignor Joe McGrath representing the Bishop of Ferns, Denis Brennan.
Fr. Cullen spoke about Mr. Wheeler as a great family man who had immense pride in his local area where he helped to develop a beautiful green bank space many years ago, and continued to tend it and mow the grass until shortly before he died.
Former hurlers of the 1950's and 1960's from Dublin, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Waterford and Cork travelled to Wexford for the funeral which was also attended by many past Wexford hurlers down through the decades.
The coffin of the legendary sportsman, kind neighbour and gentle giant of the community was draped in the old purple and gold Wexford jersey as it was was carried from the church.
In later years, Ned was a member of 'The Corner', a group men and women who attend the leisure centre in the Ferrycarrig Hotel where he joined the gym about 22 years ago, after it first opened.
He would join his friends in 'the Corner' for an hour-long chat after weightlifting, holding court about five mornings a week, analysing GAA performances with fellow members including Liam Griffin, Tom Butler, Mick Kinsella and Garry McCauley.
When the news came last Friday morning that he had died, Garry McCauley took out his tin whistle and played 'Kelly of Killanne', as he had done for Ned in hospital in Waterford a few days earlier.
The mnager, Lena Lena, left an untouched cup of coffee in the place where he had sat with his friends for over 20 years.