A wave of sadness swept over the Parish of Glencolmcille and neighbouring Parishes when news began to filter out on Wednesday evening, 9th January 2019 of the sudden death of Connie “Beag” Cunningham.
Connie passed away in Sligo University Hospital after a short illness, surrounded by his beloved family.
His death has a shattering effect on his colleagues in the Naomh Columba club, and especially those close to him who are aware of his great qualities and his passing leaves a great void which will be difficult to fill.
The club held a special meeting to make funeral arrangements and then adjourned the meeting as a mark of respect.
On Thursday when his remains came home from Sligo University Hospital to his family home, the cortege was greeted by a very large guard of honour at Carrick bridge, which included former and present club players, club members, present officers and his working colleagues from Errigal processing factory in Meenaneary.
Our neighbouring club Cill Chartha also formed a guard of honour in Kilcar which included many of Connie’s playing colleagues.
Sadly due to emigration in the mid fifties and sixties, the club, having no adult team, had to form a team with neighbours Kilcar. From the late fifties Connie was selector on the Kilcar senior team which also included his three brothers, Barney and the late Francie and Jimmy.
In March 1964 the Glencolmcille Club was reformed, and the players who played for Kilcar returned and an adult team was entered in county competitions.
Connie immediately got involved and was one of the driving forces along with his good friend, the late Charlie Cunningham, in the success of the Club, and especially he took great interest in the development of Páirc na nGael.
After his playing career, he remained very active up to his death. Connie Beag was one of nature’s gentlemen, and it did not matter where you met him he had a pleasant smile for both young and old.
He and his wife, Angela, were ardent supporters of both adult and underage teams including the ladies teams. He was an advocate of good open football and certainly was not a fan of the blanket defence.
In 2015 he was elected as president of the club, a position he carried out with distinction.
His last engagement was when he attended our club’s annual dinner dance on 30th December, where he presented John Joe O’Gara with Club Player of the Year.
Connie was employed as supervisor at Errigal Processing Factory in Meenaneary and gained great respect from his working colleagues.
On numerous occasions people came to him seeking employment and certainly he did not let any of them away disappointed. He would say to them: “Ah sure, come in tomorrow and I will get you some job to do,” - what a kind and good natured man.
Evidence of the esteem and respect in which the Cunningham family are held was manifested by the large and representative attendance at the wake and funeral.
From the family home to the church Connie’s coffin was carried shoulder high by members of his family, members of Naomh Columba club and his working colleagues from Errigal factory.
A guard of honour was formed on each side of the street in Carrick, by present and former players, members of the club and his colleagues from the Errigal factory.
The coffin was draped in a Naomh Columba flag and a club jersey.
Before Mass began symbols of his life was brought before the altar, a blue coat, a club jersey, a stick and a family photograph
His son, Conal, explained what each stood for in his father’s life as follows. The stick representing his love for farming. The blue coat representing his employment with Errigal factory. The club jersey representing his playing career with the Naomh Columba club. The family photograph representing a devoted family man.
Fr. Denis Quinn PP was chief celebrant along with Fr. Francis McAteer AP and Fr. Eddie Gallagher PP.
In his homily Fr Quinn, speaking in Irish and English, said that Connie was a great community man, a devoted husband, a father whose outlook was to his wife Angela and family.
A very emotional reflection was read by his son, Michael. There was also a very moving oration compiled and recited by chairperson of the club, Rodger Curran, who also placed a wreath on the grave on behalf of the club.
On behalf of the Naomh Columba club I wish to extend our deepest sympathy to his heartbroken wife Angela, his sons Michael, Dessie, Conal, Hughie and Séan, his brother Barney, sisters Margaret and Philomena , nieces, nephews, grandchildren and a large family circle.
Slán leat a Chonnie agus go raibh míle maith agat as an obair mhór a rinne tú do’n Fhó Chumainn anseo i nGleanncholmcille. Ní bheidh do leithéid ann arís, mar gur duine an specialta thú
John James McLoughlin
Fhó Chumainn Naomh Columba, Gleanncholmcille