Catching up

There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen.

That quote, attributed to Lenin, seems more than a little apposite from my standpoint right now. A week ago today, my father died and the seven days since have passed in a dizzying blur. Everything has changed but it all still seems in large part like a dream.

This is, I suppose, explained by the fact that Dad was such a presence in our lives for as long as he was. He would have been 91 on New Year’s Day so we’re all painfully aware of how privileged we’ve been to have had him in our lives for as long as we did.

As Louis and I alluded to the other day, it was through Dad that we got our love for Gaelic football. I can still recall the enormity of the first Connacht Championship fixture I got to attend at MacHale Park in the late Sixties and the air of anticipation I could sense among the huge crowd about the contest that was about to take place.

I was instantly hooked, I still am. It was Dad who lit that flame.

While my father, like the rest of us, didn’t get to see a Mayo All-Ireland triumph over the past decade, he was there in 1951 to see the county, captained by his great hero Seán Flanagan, capture back-to-back Sam Maguire successes.

Dad was an avid reader of the blog and he even contributed a guest piece about his memories of being at the 1951 final. He did so using the nom de plume Akamore Man and you can read that piece here.

Our family has been greatly sustained by the way in which so many have shared our loss in recent days. Huge numbers turned up for the funeral and all the Mass cards, phone calls, text messages, and online condolences, including the many posted by the community here on the blog, have buoyed us all greatly during this difficult time.

On behalf of myself and all the family, I’d like to express our deep gratitude for all the support we’ve received since Dad’s passing. This will undoubtedly help to fortify us in the weeks and months ahead as we adjust to our loss.

44 thoughts on “Catching up

  1. I remember reading Akamore Man’s posts. Never would have guessed he was a man of that age.
    God rest him, and condolences to you WJ and all the family.

  2. Lovely tribute to your Dad. We each have only one of them and they always support us
    My dad died after my mother in 1996 and then I realized my generation were next in line. Indeed one brother died 10 years ago played hurling with Tooreen and a minor hurling semi final against Laois.

  3. I’m very sorry to hear of your Dads passing, Willie Joe.
    Your comments about him lighting the flame of your love for Gaelic football ring very true for me, as my own Dad did the very thing. When I was a kid he worked 6 days a week and the Sunday trips to matches all around the county and around the country were the only real time I spent with him as a child. As he got more elderly there has been a nice turning of the circle as I have returned the favour of bringing him to matches. After some years of not being around to go to games with him in my 20’s and 30’s, Mayo’s adventures since 2011 have given us the opportunity to enjoy relighting that flame. Now he’s almost 80, to be with him at games in 2022 has been really special after 2 Covid years. Thank you WJ for bringing that to my mind.

  4. Deepest sympathies to the Gunnigan family. Your Dad lit the flame within you and your siblings decades ago, and as a direct consequence, through your endeavours on the blog, the flame has been lit within innumerable others.

  5. That’s a lovely tribute to your dad WJ.
    Those memories of matches with your dad resonates strongly with me and I’d say many on this blog who have lost a parent recently.
    Sincere sympathies and hope the good memories help you through .

  6. My condolences to you and your family , may he RIP .

    My father also lit that flame for Mayo football for me. There are many parts to following Mayo football that makes it great fun but for a lot of us the gathering of family is a massive part of it , I think it makes it all worth while .

  7. A great tribute to your late Dad. What a lovely writter no doubt you got the writing gene from your Dad!
    The rothar (bicycle) was the main mode of transport in these days. I heard that people from Achill would cycle from Oilean Acla to Castlebar to support foireann Mhuigeo! No need for gyms in these days!!
    Clearly farm work was of paramount importance. Same in Achill where our holdings were small but vital as the sale of the calf was a welcomed cheque when cashed! We had jobbers (people who bought livestock) coming from all over the county and on one occasion a man from Loch Garman, as livestock from Achill thrived on better pastures! My late Dad was a happy man when the turf and hay was saved-no GP back then!! Your Dad piece will resonanate with a lot of people in rural Mayo and elsewhere!
    Thinking about you and all your clann at this sad time WJ.
    Beannacht De lena anamh dilis.
    Brón ar an mbás

  8. Condolences to you and your family WJ,

    As someone who lost their dad too just a year ago, your piece of lightning the flame of our love for mayo football really got me. I can remember my first all ireland in ’89 and my own dad ended up getting 18 tickets for the match from all over the country. Not bad going as some of you will remember they were like hens teeth then. The morning before any big match my dad would always burst into our bedroom at 6 in the morning and proclaim ‘the day had dawned’. This always happened and as a young teenager of the mid-90’s it used to really annoy us!! In 96 and 97 we used to take off to watch mayo training in ballyhaunis twice a week, just sitting in the car for 2 hours watching the team training. As I got older in the naughties and was living away there would always be the once or twice weekly calls home and without fail the chat with dad always centered on mayo football. For me and I’m sure a lot of us on here, mayo football was a great piece for us to bond with our dad’s and to probably daydream of the day when we will win Sam. As a father now myself and soon to be again to a newborn, I hope I can not only pass the love I have for mayo football, but for everything about mayo to my own 2 kids and to continue the daydream of winning Sam until it does happen with them.

  9. Condolences to all the family wj.
    Reading the comments above about where we got our love of mayo football got me thinking that’s it bigger than just winning Sam!!

  10. My sincere condolences to you and all your family Willie Joe. A very nice tribute to your father.

  11. Really lovely piece WJ. I remember reading Akamore man’s account well. Loved it then and still do. May he rest in peace.

  12. Nice tribute WJ. A very familiar story with so many passionate Mayo fans having had the spark ignited by their parents.
    On a separate note I see Aidan Henry in the Connacht telegraph has gone public, Oisin Mullin and Lee Keegan won’t be available to Mayo in 2023

  13. Only learning of this news now Willie Joe. Sending my sympathies to you and your family on your sad loss.

  14. Deepest sympathy to you and yours Willie Joe.Mind yourselves at this sad time. May your Dad rest in peace.

  15. Very sorry to hear the passing of your father WJ. Deepest sympathies to you and your wider family. I know this blog is mayo football focused and no doubt I’ve tested your patience on here before but I think this puts everything into perspective. Football is just a game, a competitive past time, but family is always the most important aspect of people’s lives. Hope you and the rest of your family are ok, and a lovely tribute you wrote above.

  16. That local Newspaper seem to always have the information before everyone else and most times they are accurate.
    Many of the Mayo players have been there for over 10 years at this stage, very hard to maintain this of commitment.

  17. Condolences to you WJ and all your family on the sad passing of your beloved father. May he RIP.

  18. Very sorry to hear that WJ. You only have one Dad so it is a huge loss.
    I remember his posts and you can say he lives on with those words.
    My Dad was born in Tooreen and is 99 now. Living in Ballyhaunis all his life.
    He remembers 51 and I always am envious of that generation.
    A great generation.

  19. Mayo 88 , not this time ct had no right to print that . Lee keegan earned the right to tell us in his own time , absolutely disgraceful piece of irresponsible journalism again by Henry .

  20. Belated condolences WJ, sport is a lovely distraction from life at times.

    Was taken aback by the Michael Murphy news during the week, I must say it saddened me as a gael to see such a giant of a figure retire. One of the greats. Donegals greatest player of all time….

    I sincerely hope Mayos greatest player of all time isn’t about to follow in his footsteps and retire :-\

  21. …all 3 mayo county champions beaten. Thought ballyhaunis would come through their tie.
    Not a great week all round for mayo football and probably gonna get worse

  22. Wow what an awful year to forget for mayo club football

    Galway 3-0 Mayo

    Thought – like supermac – that the Haunis might do it, Dunmore made heavy weather of it in Galway

    Very dangerous game for Moycullen tomo

  23. Sean Burke, I’d agree with you there, it’s disgraceful of CT to print that rumour true or not, Lee and any other player have earned the right to make those announcements on their own terms. The Connaght Telegraph’s standards have absolutely plummeted recent years, printing any rumour with little or no substance, just ask Kieran Donaghy, its nothing more than a tabloid rag at this stage.

  24. Ive no doubt your dad was very proud of you WJ and the work you do to provide a forum for mayo followers to express their views and debate issues relating to mayo football.
    Ther will be an irreplaceable vacum around the table this Christmas but lots of great storytelling most relating to going to football matches be they county or Aughamore club games.
    “Ar dheist Dé go raibh a anam dílis”

  25. Ive been out of circulation for a while now and only just learned about your dads death Willie Joe. My sincere condolences to you and your family.
    At 91 he was of a rare generation who hadn’t it always easy.

  26. Lovely tribute to your dad, WJ. When he lit that fire in you and your family, little was anyone to know that many of us would be the beneficiaries, in the shape of this community. At 91. He must have had so many stories. This Christmas will no doubt be a sad one for you all, but hopefully the support will continue to sustain you. It’s a tough and tiring time, so take care.

  27. A nice tribute willie joe. Again since condolences. I agree Sean Burke. Disgraceful journalism .hope its false

  28. I’m very sorry for your loss Willie Joe. Sincere condolences to you and your family. He must have been a mighty man and ye have done him proud. Up Mayo.

  29. So sorry on your Dad’s passing WJ.
    It is such a sad time in family life but may all the wonderful memories help ye through this grieving time in the coming weeks and months.
    Rest in peace Akamore Man.

  30. I only popped in for a quick goo and am so sorry to see your sad news. My condolences to you and all your family. Look after yourselves. RIP to your cherished dad.

  31. That’s a really lovely tribute Willie Joe and a great piece your father wrote. My own Dad will be 90 in May and he has great recollections from that era. I know what a privilege it is to have that constant in one’s life for so long. May he rest in peace

  32. Dear Willie Joe, family, neighbours and friends, I am sorry to hear of your great loss. May your beloved Dad and friend, John, rest in peace. You must have luminous memories across so many years. I hope John is there in spirit with you at all Mayo matches and whenever there is a discussion about Mayo football. Rest in peace John Senior.

  33. Hi Willie Joe, very sorry to hear about your Dad, may he rest in peace. Condolences to you and your family at this sad time for you all.

  34. Sincere condolences John, and thank you for sharing that wonderful piece from your dad. May he rest in peace.

  35. @williejoe. I add my condolences to all the above. Sorry to hear about your dad passing. R. I. P…. A great age but I’ve no doubt it hits hard.

  36. Very sorry to hear about your Dad Willie Joe
    May he rest in peace
    Condolences to you and all the Gunnigan family

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