Séamus (Jim) Thornton – An Appreciation

Photo: Thornton family

Spare a thought on these dark but lengthening winter days for my uncle and namesake, Séamus Thornton of Clossagh, Foxford and Glasnevin, Dublin, who passed away last Friday morning. He was 96 years old.

Born in 1925, into a farming family of nine boys and two girls, Séamus joined An Garda Síochána in 1944, where he also played his club football.

Séamus had the honour of playing twice for the Mayo Senior football team in the early 1950s – a league game against Laois in the 1950/1 season but more significantly in the Connacht semi-final of 1951 where we prevailed against Sligo on a scoreline of 3-7 to 1-5. The game was played in Corran Park, Ballymote, on the 24th of June.

His first appearance in the Green and Red was as a substitute at right half-back. His second and last came as goalkeeper (possibly as replacement for an unavailable Séan Wynne). He didn’t do too badly, though, as I’m told he saved a penalty on the day.   

Despite his short career as an inter-county footballer, he played a small but important role in Mayo’s last All-Ireland winning campaign, a fact I am very proud of, and which I never tire of telling anyone willing to listen!

Unfortunately, for reasons we will probably never know now, he did not feature any further on the panel that year as the team went on to claim their famous two-in-a-row. 

Following this, Séamus settled into life as a guard in Dublin, marrying Kathleen, a local girl from Howth where he was stationed at the time and raising a family of their own together. Coincidentally, his brother-in-law, Paddy O’Flaherty, won a Celtic Cross for Dublin in 1958, also playing between the uprights.

Summers were spent back in his beloved Mayo, saving hay with his brothers or finding time to engage in his favourite pastime of fishing for salmon or trout on the banks of the nearby River Moy.  

He outlived all ten of his siblings and is the last of his generation within our family. Like so many others they were of a generation that worked hard and sacrificed much for those who were to follow and for this we owe them much gratitude.

Séamus is survived by his three children, his wife Kathleen having left us in early 2020 at the start of the Covid pandemic. His funeral service and cremation took place on Monday last and his remains will be scattered back in his beloved Mayo. 

I’d like to personally thank those current and ex members of the Mayo Senior football team who left messages of condolence on the RIP.ie website over the last few days. Given its nigh on eighty years since Séamus left Mayo and over seventy since he played for Mayo, these small gestures take on an added and poignant significance. These lads really are a credit to their county in more ways than one.

With his passing, I am conscious of redoubling my efforts to look to the future with a sense of renewed hope rather than backwards to the past (as some of us supporters understandably do with all things related to Mayo football). All those painful defeats (even our most recent one) need to be consigned to the history bin now as we continue our quest for that ever-elusive piece of silverware.

We’ll get there.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.

Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.

Maigh Eo Abú.

24 thoughts on “Séamus (Jim) Thornton – An Appreciation

  1. Well done Seamus. You’re rightly proud of your uncle and his achievements. I for one would class him as an All Ireland winner seeing as he played championship football that year. May he rest in peace.

  2. That’s a lovely piece Seamus. A strong and proud connection with the team of 1950 / 51. May your uncle rest in peace.

  3. May he Rest In Peace Seamus, that’s a great story , I think I know your family ( originally from area), I had not realized he played for Mayo.. should should be very proud

  4. May he Rest In Peace Seamus, that’s a great story , I think I know your family ( originally from area), I had not realized he played for Mayo.. you should be very proud

  5. Rip Séamus, you did your county some service. The trainers of the team in 50/51 included Jackie Carney uncle of Martin. After his death his wiidow moved to Meath and my wife and I played bridge with her. She was a formidable lady and a great player. Every now and again there would be a draw for partners & Eithne called for number 5 hitting the ground with her walking stick. It was my wife’s number and she nearly fainted. I took her number and went to Eithnes table. I asked if she was Jack’s widow and Martins aunt who é i knew well. We talked for a while about Mayo football before the game started. I was a useful player but made a mistake, the opposition waited for her to read the right act to me but she just said anybody could make that mistake. It was the talk of the bridge room, we won the competition oh to be a Mayo football follower.

  6. A well written and sensitive piece about a man, a people and a time that we have all done well from. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants.

  7. Jrb. I have often stood at Jakie’s grave in Lahardane. He’s laid to rest in Addergoole cemetery, where my own brother rests. Probably the most scenic graveyard I’ve ever seen. Lough Conn immediately beside it and Nephin in full view.

  8. Nephin
    When coming home with teams from Cros molina or Ballina to Castlebar we always stopped in Devanneys for craic and pints. Then over the hills to Castlebar. Those were the days.

  9. @Seamus, My Grand Aunt from Foxford remembered Seamus Thornton. She just knew he was a footballer, couldn’t tell me much more than that. Quite a few Thornton families around Foxford.
    RIP to Seamus. He did his county and country proud service.

  10. We done Seamus . That is a great tribute to a great man (my Uncle). We all have lots of memories of him and our summers in Foxford.

  11. Sorry to hear about Seamus passing I knew him and the family well indeed as a child his mother would always wellcome us into the house. May he rest in peace.

  12. That’s a fantastic piece, thank you Seamus for doing it you’ve done him proud.

  13. This time next Sunday we will have made a good start to the League or taking a beating from Donegal and putting pressure on to survive in Division 1. Time for Horan to man up and put best team on the field from the start and make the right calls when needed, no matter who has to come off.

  14. Just to note,
    Kerry, Galway, Dublin and Monaghan have already won titles in 2022, more than likely the All Ireland winners probably will come from one of this bunch.

  15. Hard to no if that comment is a serious one or it’s tongue in cheek Mayo88 ,I can’t see how people keep believing every year that the all Ireland is won in January when certain teams fly outa the block and dont see that the fbd ,McKenna cup ,mcgra cup and o Byrne cup are basically a run out for all teams to get back into the swing of things and to blood in new players and it won’t have any bearing whatsoever on who’ll be the last 4 come championship ,shur kerry and Dublin were always going to come good based mostly on the gulf of teams in their provinces but the cream rises to the top and I still believe we’re pretty dam good cream , as for the usual hype up of Galway ,Donegal and Monaghan and other teams that are flying in February March and are gone early on well so be but these teams have done nothing in the last 4/5 years to be anywhere near contenders but saying that we’ll just have to wait and see how we get going ourselves hopefully a win against Donegal it won’t be easy they looked fit against Monaghan but very reliant still on Murphy but we dig in and go again like we always do

  16. A big thanks to all those who responded to the above appreciation. A big shout out too to Willie Joe for the opportunity to share all of this here on the blog. Míle buíochas!

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