Monday 18 December 2017

Tony O'Sullivan was a man of culture and kindness

The late Tony O' Sullivan.
The late Tony O' Sullivan.

Wexford was saddened by the recent passing of an esteemed member of its community. Tony O'Sullivan of Mannix Place passed away peacefully over the Christmas period.

Devoted to his town, he was an unassuming man who gave tremendous service to the community. Tony was a founding member of Our Lady of Fatima School and worked tirelessly to support the school throughout his life, even fundraising for it by penning volumes of poetry, all funds from which went to the school.

He was really touched when students there did a special triptych painting for him on his retirement from the school board of management. It was based on one of his poems about 'Tuskar Rock lighthouse'. It meant so much to him, he looked at it every day.

Born in 1930, to a Corkonian father and a mother from Sligo, he was the eldest of five children. He grew up on St. Brendan's Road in a town he adored.

He met his soulmate, Sabina Gordon (Bini as she was known) when they were both very young. They married in 1952 and spent over 60 happy years together before she passed away just over four years ago.

He spent his working life at Johnstown Castle where he was a laboratory technician. He always loved Johnstown and took personal pride in working at such a beautiful estate.

Tony was a family man who made sacrifices; he had a good sense of humour, often mischievous. He was sociable, thoughtful and known for his generosity of time and support to his local community and many acts of kindness to those around him.

He was a man of many talents. He had a thirst for knowledge and could read and speak many languages including Irish, Italian, French and Russian. He would delight in being able to practice his language skills and if you were a tourist or a performer in the Wexford Opera Festival, you could expect to be greeted in your mother tongue.

Tony was proud of his town, proud of its history and loved to share this with people. He was an occasional unofficial tour guide, particularly during the Opera Festival and made many friends this way who wrote to him from all over the world.

He had a love of literature, and a voracious appetite not only for reading, but also collecting books. Over his life time Tony and Bini amassed a collection of thousands of books.

He served on the Dun Mhuire parish hall committee for many years ensuring that the theatre was available for local community use from drama groups, Wexford Drama Festival, concerts, musical societies, Tops of the Town and bingo.

He loved swimming and was a lifesaving instructor in his spare time. He put his training into practice and there are a number of people in Wexford today who owe their lives to him.

He was meticulous about the things he cared about. Both Tony and Bini loved nature and could quote the Latin names and origins of a dazzling array of plant species. He was a keen gardener, planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables and even grapes and tobacco.

He was a great sports fan, football, hurling, soccer, rugby, tennis and knew all the players by name.

Like languages, he had an in-depth love of all types of music, from traditional and folk to classical and opera, which he shared with his wife Bini. He played traditional music himself as an accordion player in a band, but also played the mouth organ and tin whistle.

He will be remembered for his generosity of spirit, his unswerving loyalty and service to his community, his love of the arts, literature, poetry and music, and his devotion to his family, his wife Bini, sons Michael and Jim and daughters Mags and Nandi. To quote Irving Berlin, "The song is ended, but the melody lingers on..."

May he rest in peace.

Wexford People

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