Saturday 21 September 2019

Bill was a hard worker and a man of great faith

THE TAGHMON area lost a legend this week with the sad passing of William (Bill) Lane, who died in St. John's Hospital, Enniscorthy.

Bill, who was 95 years of age, had spent the last eight years in St. John's, where he was hugely popular with the nursing staff and fellow patients.

Right up to his death, Bill was up and about every day, maintaining his tremendous sense of humour and his mind was as sharp as any time in his life.

In his days in Taghmon, Bill lived an active but simple life. As long as he had feed for his cattle and ponies, a few sticks for the fire, a potato for the pot, a spade to dig the garden and a repair kit for his trusty bike, he was a happy man.

Founder and life long supporter of Taghmon Handball Club, Bill enjoyed remembering the halycon days of Taghmon handball when the village was producing world class players like John Quigley and Pat Murphy.

His contribution to handball was recognised by him being inducted into Coiste Sean Gael in 2003, something which gave him tremendous pride.

He was a regular committee member and participant in Taghmon Mardi Gras, and people of the parish looked forward to seeing him in the parade with his pony and car and his faithful sheep dog.

He was honoured when the last Mardi Gras Committee presented him with a pack of playing cards in an engraved brass and mahogany box, as a token of appreciation for his years of dedication.

It was a fitting gesture, as Bill was well known for his card playing prowess, particularly over a social drink in Roche's pub.

Bill had a life-long interest in the history of his parish, and following the founding of Taghmon Historical Society he would delight when Seamus Seery or Tom Williams would visit him, looking for information.

He was delighted when the society published two of his articles 'A Fair Day in Taghmon' and 'Harperstown House' in their annual journals.

In his younger days, Bill was very active in the Taghmon and Harperstown Dramatic Societies and would tell great stories of days on the road in the late 1940s with Fr. Anglim, when they performed in parish halls around the county.

When Bill was seven years old he was diagnosed with a heart murmer and was told by a doctor he would never be fit for hard work. But no man worked harder than Bill, whether it was drawing stones by horse and car for road building in the 1940s, to raising cattle and sheep later.

It was not unusual to see him, when he was over 80 years of age, digging for a week on his land in Barntown to free drains, or riding his bike down to Kilmore Quay for a couple of fresh mackerel.

Hard work and dedication to God was his philosophy for life, and he was truly dedicated to his church.

Rain hail or snow, his bike would be parked at John Cogley's as he made his way to worship.

When he went to St. John's, he was always delighted when Fr. Brennan, and subsequently Fr. Gorman called to see him. He also formed a great relationship in St John's with the chaplain there, Fr. Pat Sinnott, and Sr. Lorraine of the St. John of God Order.

An example of Bill's great faith came in 1954, when one July morning at 5 a.m. he left Taghmon village on his bicycle to cycle to Croagh Patrick – a journey which took him five days.

He then climbed the mountain, before turning around for the long journey home.

He would also tell great stories of his travels to Croke Park in the fifties on his auto bike, and one day himself and his travelling companion left their bikes at Nelson's Pillar and walked to Croke Park.

When they came out they just followed the crowd and Bill said he 'couldn't find it anywhere'.

When asked if it was the bike he couldn't find, Bill would laughingly respond: 'No, the Pillar'.

Bill was born on February 13, 1915 in a courtyard beside the ruins of the Hore Massion, Harperstown House.

At the time, the property was being administered by a receiver, following the bankruptcy of the owner, Lord Rutven in Scotland. Bill's father, James Lane, was a caretaker for the receiver, having worked on the estate all his life.

His mother, Katherine (nee Cullen), christened him William Valentine Lane, and he was one of four boys.

He is predeceased by his brothers James, Bartholomew and John.

Educated at Trinity National School in Taghmon, his first employment was at the General Merchants premises and farm of his uncle, John Cullen in Adamstown, before being engaged as a contract worker for Wexford County Council, drawing stones by horse and car from quarries in South Wexford for the purpose of road building and repair.

He also worked as a handyman in the building trade before inheriting a small parcel of family land in Harperstown and his aunt Mary's landholding in Barntown.

He was subsequently engaged in the buying, raising and selling of cattle, and was well known around the Taghmon mart as a keen judge of stock.

His passing on Friday, March 19 marked the end of an era.

Taghmon will not see the likes of Bill lane again.

He is the last of his family, and the last of the Lanes of Harperstown, who appear in Griffiths Valuation in 1853.

Their name and their memory will live in the annals of the Taghmon Historical Society, and chiselled in stone in St. Fintan's Cemetery an in the minds of those who cherished them.

Bill is deeply regretted by his sister-in-law Teresa Lane (nee Coleman), St. John's Hospital, Enniscorthy; the Cullen and Kehoe families from Adamstown and Castleboro, Clonroche and the Murphy and Dunne families from Dublin.

Bill's remains were interred in St. Fintan's Cemetery, Taghmon following Requiem Mass

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