Clonmel man Jimmy Cooney was one of nature's gentlemen

Eamonn Wynne


Eamonn Wynne


The late Jimmy Cooney

The late Jimmy Cooney

When the members of the Tipperary United Sports Panel gather to present their annual Annerville sports awards at the Clonmel Park Hotel this Saturday night, a familiar face will be missing.

Jimmy Cooney attended the Panel's annual general meeting in October but died just over a week later, on October 19th, following a short spell at South Tipperary General Hospital. 

Despite his advanced years (Jimmy was 83) his passing caused shock, as well as much sadness, among people in his home town of Clonmel and over a wide area.

The word must commonly voiced when the news broke of Jimmy's passing, and at the obsequies, was that the world had lost a "gentleman". 

Jimmy was blessed with a calm, gentle demeanour, one that stood to him in the many facets of his life. In a world where people lead lives that are becoming increasingly busy and hurried, he always found the time to stop and have a chat, speak a kind word or pass  a witty remark that came from the depths of his sharp, well-informed mind.

Jimmy originally came from Ard na Greine, Clonmel, an area where he lived all his life, and was son of the late James and Mary (neé Smith) Cooney.

He started his working life in the town's Pram Factory but was more associated with the former Clonmel Foods factory in Irishtown, where he worked in the shipping and accounts departments.

The factory closed in the 1980s and when it reopened as Master Meats in 1985 Jimmy was recruited to play a key role in the re-launch of the business. He was later appointed as financial controller when the company was known as Fair Oak Foods.

He was highly respected throughout his working life and held in very high esteem by management and staff.

Jimmy was actively involved in the community, serving it well through his involvement over the years in organisations including Meals on Wheels, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Probus, an organisation for retired professionals.

He was also a leading member of Hillview Sports Club, whose members formed a guard of honour at his funeral. He was a lifelong member of the club, serving with distinction in various roles.

These included a term as president from 1971 to '73 when he oversaw the demolition of the old wooden clubhouse and its replacement with a larger and more modern building.

He was instrumental in setting up the fundraising bingo in 1963, and which is still going strong.

As well as his term as president he was recognised as a great administrator in his many other roles in Hillview, which included tennis captain, table tennis captain and club secretary. Four years ago he was made an honorary life vice-president.

He joined the United Sports Panel in 1976 and acted as chairman, secretary and treasurer during service that spanned just over forty years, and during which time hundreds of sports stars  throughout Tipperary were honoured at the Panel's annual awards ceremony. 

When crunch decisions were faced at meetings, he would invariably assure everyone, in his inimitable, calm manner, that the wisdom of the Panel members would prevail! 

Jimmy's positive outlook on life, and his keen sense of humour, will also be sadly missed by all who knew him, especially his lifelong companion and soulmate Mary Cleary. 

Poignantly, his brother John, the former Chief Executive Officer of the South Eastern Health Board, who lived in Kilkenny, died just two months to the day after Jimmy's passing.

He is also survived by his sister Mary, sister-in-law Elsie, nieces, nephew and other relations, to whom sincere sympathy is extended.

May he rest in peace.