JJ’s parents Gerry and Jacinta with his niece and nephew Alannah and Cathal Photos: michaelorourkephotography.ie
By Elizabeth Lee
THERE was football and face painting, ice-cream and sweets, fun and plenty of laughs when the Connolly family in Tullow held a memorial family fun day in the local Parkville soccer club.
Gerry and Jacinta Connolly and their daughter Jacinta organised the event in memory of their beloved son and brother JJ, who passed away in an accident in 2014 at the age of 22 years.
“It started out as a way of keeping JJ’s memory alive and it’s grown since then. This is the first one we’ve been able to do since Covid and we had a massive turnout,” said Gerry, a well-known retired garda inspector.
“We try to keep the day really cheap so that all families can get involved and have a good time. It’s really a community event because lots of people help us get the field ready and then are involved in the day itself. Local businesses are really brilliant in their support, especially donating spot prizes,” continued Gerry.
JJ adored soccer and played with Parkville, but he also managed the ladies’ team, along with Tony Doran. As a nod to that memory, local men dress up as women on the evening of the fun day and play a game!
One of the big attractions for the youngsters was a visit from the local fire brigade, while there were also penalty shootouts organised by Mark Behan and his Parkville crew. One of the most asked questions on the day was ‘guess the teddy’s name’ competition and Gerry can finally reveal that the teddy’s name is … Chum!
“Anyone who knew JJ would know that if he met you he’d call you Chum, so that was what we called the teddy! People might like to know that!” smiled Gerry.
JJ’s organs were donated so the Connollys now raise funds for the Irish Kidney Association as well as other local charities. They hope to raise up to €7,000 this year for the good causes.
The Connollys would like to thank everyone who helped out in any way, including members of the Parkville club and the local community, who really rowed in to make the memorial day so successful.