A poignant scene on the Diamond as James Anthony's hearse stops on the spot that his taxi occupied for many years. INDD 070618. Picture: Jonathan Kennedy
When one mentioned the words “James Anthony” in Donegal Town and the environs, everybody knew exactly who one was referring to.
James Anthony McGroary a man who was synonymous with Donegal Town and a man that never needed a surname - he was just 'James Anthony' to all.
James Anthony was born in Meenataggart outside Donegal Town, a place where he spent most of his life. He passed away on Monday last in the North West Hospice after a short but courageous battle with cancer.
The popular taxi man never married but was never short of great company with his job affording him the opportunity of meeting so many people and travelling throughout the country.
James was a pioneer in the taxi or “ hackney business” as it was known then in Donegal Town. In business for almost sixty years at a time when not everybody had their own private transport, James was part of the social fabric of the town, bringing people to so many different destinations.
He had a firm policy of changing his car every year and had a new one in his garage ready for the road, but fate dealt a cruel blow to the man loved by everybody.
As a young person growing up in the town I have my own memories of this very genuine man.
On regular Sunday mornings his large grey Zephyr would ferry us - John Murphy, Paddy Gildea, Jim Weir to football pitches around the country. Ballinascreen, Cavan, Irvinestown, Casement Park and even a few visits to Croke Park.
Those were the days of the flask and sandwiches and maybe a Cavan Cola long before the glory days of the present Donegal squads.
Indeed he was a great man for bringing us to the dances throughout the county - the Fiesta in Letterkenny, Dunkineely, Leghowney on a Tuesday night. James had many stories to tell but true to his profession, he never revealed anything. He often said, “What happens in the car, stays in the car.”
He was also a man of great compassion - many's a trip he made to hospitals in Dublin bringing those on what may well have been their last trip from Donegal but he always had that positive attitude - “When would you like me to come up and collect you”
In times of emigration he was a regular to the airports in both Dublin and Shannon for their journeys to New York, London and even Australia.
One person commented, “James will be sadly missed by all - may his journey to Heaven be as comfortable as the many that he provided us all with.”
Another mentioned, “If you wanted the latest news, you didn't need the Democrat, James had it all!”
As a mark of respect the taxi rank was left vacant on Wednesday morning during his funeral mass at St. Mary's church which was attended by a huge crowd.
James was a member of a large family many of whom are now deceased, and is survived by his brothers Peter, Joe and Benny.