By Charlie Keegan
THERE was a profound sense of loss and regret in the Carlow area at news of the death on Wednesday 11 August at The Beacon Hospital, Dublin of Charles (Charlie) O’Malley, Monacurragh, Carlow.
He had fought a long, brave and dignified battle with serious illness over the final seven-and-a-half years of his life. He underwent a number of medical procedures during the course of his illness, including immunotherapy, for his condition. He showed great resilience through the gruelling treatments he chose to endure.
A native of Knocknagee, Co Kildare, Charlie was son of the late Kevin and Ann (Nancy) (née Kerin) O’Malley and one of a family of six children – four boys and two girls.
Educated by the Christian Brothers in Carlow at primary and secondary levels, Charlie had two occupations – as a photographer and a taxi operator. His photography enterprise centred on portraits, weddings and landscape, along with newspaper work, some for ***The Nationalist***.
He played rugby with County Carlow Football Club and the oval ball game was his favourite sport. He was deeply proud to have served as club president in 2005-06.
Prior to being elected club president, Charlie coached youth rugby at the club in a voluntary capacity for more than two decades. During his coaching, many of his teams went on to win regional and provincial titles. Also, many players that he coached represented the Southeast, Leinster and Ireland at youth level. Charlie’s own playing career was not without success; he won multiple South East League titles and a provincial title.
Charlie also lined out with the Oireachtas rugby team of TDs and senators for a number of years. He travelled on a number of overseas tours with the sporting politicians, including trips to Australia and South Africa. He met Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk during a rugby tour to the Rainbow Nation in 1995, one year following the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.
Away from sport, Charlie was an avid reader and was up to speed regarding everything from electric cars to space exploration and everything in between. He was so positive about the future, despite everything he was going through personally.
Charlie reposed in Carpenter’s Funeral Home, Barrack Street, before being brought to his home in Monacurragh on Friday morning, 13 August, where relatives, close friends and neighbours were able to say their final goodbyes.
Former presidents of County Carlow Football Club formed a guard of honour from the O’Malley home to the Cathedral of the Assumption on the Friday, where Charlie’s funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr Thomas O’Byrne, Adm.
Significant symbols of his life were brought to the altar at the start of Mass: a rugby ball and Charlie’s trademark Trilby hat, which were presented by his grandchildren Isabelle and Alexander.
The readings at Mass were by Paul Daly (son-in-law) and Peter Power (brother-in-law), while Prayers of the Faithful were recited by Alan Power (nephew), Comhall Fanning (nephew), Aideen Delaney (daughter-in-law), Noreen Ardill (friend) and Harry Sothern (friend).
A eulogy to Charlie was delivered by his brother-in-law Brendan Fanning. It stated how Charlie will be remembered as “a great husband, father, grandfather and mentor to many”.
“Charlie came from a rural background, being originally from Knocknagee. He had two older brothers, John and Austin, two younger sisters, Kay and Frances, and a younger brother Pat. The countryside was their playground – I think the boys thought they were real cowboys and used Oak Park for their adventures.
“He worked in Carlow in his late teens and moved to Germany and the UK for a few short years before returning to Carlow permanently. He successfully ran his own photography business and later his own taxi enterprise, which he worked at diligently.
“Charlie was very much a DIY person, very talented and particular about everything he did. There is not a room in his house, and indeed part of the house itself, that does not have his stamp on it.
“He carried out some amazing work in his own home and loved helping many friends and family members with their own tricky problems.”
Referencing Charlie’s sporting activities, the tribute suggested that these pursuits defined him, to some extent. “He loved his skiing, sailing and rugby, although not without a number of mishaps along the way. However, that did not deter him.”
The eulogy then outlined Charlie’s involvement with County Carlow Football Club at Oak Park and his overseas trips with the politicians.
At the rugby club he spent many years coaching underage players, “and having spoken to a number of these players over the last few days, they appear to have held him in very high regard”.
The eulogy continued: “Charlie met his future wife Kay (Hoare) in Carlow Rugby Club. They married in 1978. He was a very proud and devoted father to his children Caroline and Stuart. He was very fond of and had great respect for his son-in-law Paul and daughter-in- law Aideen.”
He was a very proud grandfather to Isabelle, Alexander and Max. He was their Pop, loved spending time with them and missed them terribly if he didn’t see them for a few days. Charlie always enjoyed hearing of their achievements, all the little milestones in their lives.
The eulogy continued: “Charlie will be greatly missed by his wife Kay, children Caroline and Stuart, grandchildren Isabelle, Alexander and Max, sister Kay and brothers John and Austin, Paul’s daughter Megan, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
The tribute concluded: “Dear Charlie, yesterday, 12 August, was your birthday. We couldn’t celebrate it with you, but we’re sure you are having a lovely time with your dear departed family and many friends.
“Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann. Rest in peace, Charlie.”
Music at Mass was by Majella Swan and Stephen Harland.
Following Mass, a cremation ceremony took place in Newlands Cross Crematorium.
Charlie is mourned by his wife Kay, children Caroline Daly (Carlow) and Stuart (Churchtown, Dublin), by his siblings Kay Power (Carlow), John (Canada) and Austin (Canada). He was predeceased by his brother Pat and sister Frances.
He is also survived by his cherished grandchildren Isabelle, Alexander and Max, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives, his rugby colleagues and wide circle of friends.