28 May 2022

Late Jack Doherty, Moycarkey

Late Jack Doherty, Moycarkey

Late Jack Doherty, Moycarkey

Jack Doherty was a phenomenal man who touched the lives of many. Jack was many things. He was a plumber by trade, a musician, a writer, an entertainer, a craftsman, a family man. To me, he was Grandad.
Grandad belonged to that golden generation of Irish that worked hard and found pleasure in the little things. Grandad loved nothing more than chatting to family or friends over a cup of tea with Nan’s brown bread or Jeanette’s buns. The kitchen in Aughnagomaun was a constant hive of activity brimming with debate, discussion, laughter, and most importantly music. I can recall vividly one such scene over a year ago when I walked into the kitchen one afternoon to be greeted by what only could be described as a makeshift orchestra. Grandad was sitting at the end of the table in his element, harmonica in hand while his best friend John Shannon was standing by the cooker belting out “Are Ye Right There Michael”. There were singers, a piano, accordion, drum, the kettle on the boil… there was hardly room to swing a cat but the laughter and craic that was had was mighty. Thanks to Una, Breda, and Angela, and John for bringing the music to Grandad that day.
Grandad brought music with him everywhere he went. It was his raison d’etre. Martin was telling me how Grandad would visit him up in Oldcastle and in the evening they would go out to a pub. Grandad would play a few tunes and tell a few yarns and sure by the end of the night, everyone knew who Jack Doherty was. Grandad realised that music brought everyone together. Grandad received his first harmonica from his father when he was 7 years old. It was the only instrument he ever played. One time a woman asked him “Jack can you play the accordion?” to which Grandad promptly replied “no, sure an accordion wouldn’t fit in my mouth!” Grandad’s sharp wit and good sense of humour is what epitomised him. Seán was telling me recently that Grandad went into Stakelum’s one day looking for nails. He went up to the young man behind the counter and said “I’m looking for some nails young man”, the worker asked him “how long do you want them?” so Grandad replied “I want to keep them. That’s how long!”
Grandad was proud of many things in his life. From personal victories such as representing Tipperary in the over 60’s All-Ireland talent competition to learning to walk again in the last few years. There was nothing Grandad couldn’t do once he put his mind to it. He was amazing. He was also endlessly proud of his family, and to him, their achievements were his achievements too. He supported us all no matter what. Nobody can deny the deep pride Grandad felt for his homeplace. He was a proud Moycarkey and Tipp man. He loved sitting down to watch and critique the Tipp matches, ready to dispute John the Postman’s analysis and predictions of how far Tipp would get this year.
Grandad was born in Aughnagomaun under the shadow of Killough Hill. From a young age, Grandad found himself deeply connected to the hill. When he moved to Innisfallen Avenue in Thurles at the age of 4, he would look out the back upstairs window at Killough Hill with a longing to be back there. Sure enough he eventually found his way back home. Grandad spent many happy hours up the hill. We all have fond memories of going up the hill with him, from picking hazelnuts with Alix and myself to going up with Mike and Elliott one last time a little over two years ago. Rumour has it that Grandad hopped the gate faster than Elliott that day… Killough Hill was the perfect bridge for his connection to nature. Perhaps his love for nature was what fostered and nurtured his openness, his resilience and his creativity.
Grandad was a passionate craftsman, his masterpiece of course being his walking sticks. I think all of us here today have at least one of his sticks at home. Growing up, we would be tripping over his sticks that he was drying out in the kitchen and in the hall. Grandad delighted in describing to us the meticulous process of stick making. During the summer months he was nearly always out in the back garden with the vice working on his next creation. The sound of the rasp against the hard wood of the stick and a Liam Clancy song playing on the wireless radio is a nostalgic soundtrack etched on my mind. Perhaps his greatest craft was his writing. Grandad had a natural way with words, and he wanted nothing more than to portray facets of his life and admiration for nature through poetry. Grandad gave his life scribbling poems, stories, and memoirs. He was particularly engrossed in the changing seasons and he used this as inspiration for his poems. While he acknowledged the inevitability of winter, he was always hopeful for the re-emergence of spring.
In the last two years, Grandad faced his own winter, but he faced it with tremendous fight and spirit and with a smile on his face. As always, Grandad was a source of joy and comfort through his music and storytelling right until the end. A visit to Jack would always make you feel better. Uncle Paddy called Grandad a Colossus, others called him a legend, to me he was my best friend. He was a father figure to me. He was a working man, a loving man, a family man. A truly brilliant man. Thank you to those who cared for Grandad Jack in South Tipperary General Hospital, in Our Lady’s Hospital Cashel, and those who cared for him at home, especially his lovely carer Angela and the wonderful CIT team. Thank you to Nan, his wife Bridgie, for being an eternal rock in Grandad’s life. Without you I don’t know what any of was would do. Grandad was so lucky to have an amazing woman like you by his side.
To conclude I will read a poem which Grandad wrote himself. The poem is called “Always On My Mind” and it is about missing a special person who has gone before us. Grandad wrote this poem in October 2017 after learning of the passing of his great friend from Fethard, Pat O'Brien. I find great comfort in this poem as Grandad reminds me that even though he is no longer with us, he has left us a great legacy of music, poetry and love. Even though he is gone, I can find him all around me in nature and the little things. How lucky am I to have had a Grandad like him.
June Doherty

Always On My Mind

Seasons come and
seasons go
As to the sea all
rivers flow.
Times of laughter and
of tears
Within our hearts
down all the years.

When blackbird’s song warbles clear
And harvest sounds
fill the air
We will think of you.
Or frost at morn on
hedge and field,
Calves new-born,
a child’s delight,
We will think of you.
And nights of song
among old friends
When easter hymn in church ascends,
We will think of you.
When summer sun warms the air
And cuckoo calls, now here now there,
We will think of you.
A Christmas card,
old photographs
The kindly word,
the hearty laughs
We will think of you.
The yellow furze,
the stream below,
Grandchildren’s hugs, cockpheasants crow,
We will think of you.

Seasons come
and seasons go
As to the sea all
rivers flow.
Times of laughter
and of tears
Within our hearts
down all the years.

Jack Doherty,

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