Death of Crolly's John Rua Gillespie

Death of Crolly's John Rua Gillespie

Mourners filled St. Mary’s Church in Derrybeg on Sunday week last for the funeral Mass for well-known Crolly publican and businessman John Rua Gillespie.

John Rua, (pictured) of Coillín Daragh, Crolly, passed away last Friday morning at the Mater Hospital in Dublin. He was 77.

Born in Bunbeg, John Rua was a son of the late Owenie and Cissie Gillespie. John Rua came from a humble background and was a hard-working man all his life.

Never out of work and always busy, he worked his way up and made a good life for himself and his family.

John Rua had no formal education past the age of 16, but due to his intelligence, capabilities and innovative actions, he never had to leave his native Gaoth Dobhair to find work. A sign of his innovation was the wind farm he built nearly 20 years ago on a Gaoth Dobhair hill, which became one of Ireland’s first wind farms.

After leaving school at age 16, John Rua went on to work at the former ESB generating station at Meenacuing in Gaoth Dobhair. He later purchased Teach Phaidí Óig public house, located near the Crolly bridge and close to the famous Crolly Doll factory.

John Rua completely renovated and extended the pub building into a spacious bar, lounge and living accommodation. In later years he developed a successful mobile home site to the rear of his premises.

About 20 years ago he set up a company, Gineadoirí Gaoithe Teoranta, to develop a wind farm on a site at Cró na Laght in Gaoth Dobhair. At the time, this site was identified as one of the most suitable sites in Ireland for wind generation in a study undertaken by the Department of Energy/EU. 

The project was so successful that he provided additional turbines on the site about a decade ago.

Behind the scenes, John Rua also supported a number of charities. He sponsored many underprivileged children through the development and humanitarian relief organisation World Vision, and financed many young children from other countries through to university, with some graduating as doctors.

Devoted family man

 Above all, John Rua was a devoted family man, an exceptional husband, father, grandfather and brother. Everything he ever worked for was for his family, and he was a huge presence in their lives, taking a great interest in everything that was happening in the lives of his children and grandchildren.

John Rua was always there to offer his family support and advice.

Poignantly, in his final days, he spoke of having a feeling of closeness to both of his late parents and his brother, Joe.

John Rua’s funeral Mass was celebrated in St. Mary’s Church in Derrybeg with interment taking place afterwards to Magheragallon cemetery.

The principal celebrant of the Mass was an Dr. Ró Oirm. Pádraig Ó Baoighill, P.P., Gaoth Dobhair, and concelebrants were Canon Michael Herrity, P.P., Annagry; Father Brian Ó Fearraigh, C.C., Gaoth Dobhair; Father Donnchadh Ó Baoill, C.C., Cnoc Fola; Father John Britto, Gaoth Dobhair; and Father John Joe Duffy, C.C., Stranorlar.  

The church was filled to capacity, with mourners attending from across the country to say farewell to the well-known man.

John Rua was predeceased in April of 1983 by his father, Owenie, and by his mother, Cissie, in September of 1998. His brother Joe died in September of 1995, aged only 51 years. He was also predeceased by his brother, Eugene, who passed away in infancy.

He is survived by his wife, Bella Gillespie; by his sons Eoghan, Liam, Cathal, Colin and Eoin; by his daughters Celine, Fiona and Eileen; by his brothers Liam, Colm and Owenie; by his sisters Máire, Ann, and Eileen; by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, in-laws and wider family circle.