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The late Jean Kennedy Smith with Killaloe community activist, John Grimes, who died last week.

Killaloe mourns death of community activist

THE twin communities of Ballina and Killaloe were united in mourning this week following the sudden death of well known community activist, John Grimes.

John (71), who was married to his wife, Betty for 45 years,  passed away suddenly in University Hospital Limerick last week.

The former chairman of the Féile Brian Boru Committee was brought from his home on Main Street Killaloe on Wednesday morning to St Flannan’s Church. As a result the Main Street and The Green was blocked to traffic between 10:30am and 11am.

After the Funeral Mass, the cortege turned up St Flannan’s Road, turning right into Courthouse Lane passing the house where John grew up.

It then turned left on to Cross Roads before travelling to Relig Lua for his burial.

Speaking at his Funeral Mass on Wednesday, his son, Jonathan, said his father always knew what was important in life – family, friends and community.

“Dad lived a life with was guided by love and overflowing with passion for music, culture, sport, arts, family.

“Dad taught to love completely without prejudice. We will carry his lessons throughout the rest of our days.”

He stated the family would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support they had received in recent days.

Killaloe parish priest, Fr James Grace recalled John’s passing in the early hours of Monday morning came as a deep shock to the whole community and beyond.

If the funeral was held pre-Covid-19, Fr Grace acknowledged the church would not hold the huge crowd of people who would like to pay their respects.

“John Grimes was born and reared in Killaloe and immersed himself in everything that was happening in the community throughout his life.”

The Féile Brian Ború Committee stated it was shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of its chairman, John Grimes.

John was the longest serving member of the committee, having been involved in organising the annual Féile Brian Ború festival since 1993.

“To say he will be missed is an understatement. We have not only lost a committee member, we have lost a true friend, and Killaloe has lost a popular, kind, caring and gentle man.”

The committee expressed its sincere condolences to his wife, Betty, his daughters, Deirdre and Joan, sons, Jonathan and Edmund, his daughters-in-law, son-in-law and his grandchildren.

In a post on social media, Irish Country Music Radio said John would never be forgotten as a great friend to all the listeners and colleagues on the station and for the many great years of music and enjoyment he gave people from his studio in Killaloe.

John, who loved playing his guitar, was a member of the Shannon Folk Four, who made a record called “The Four Who Fell”, based on the four Scariff Martyrs in 1968. Written by local poet and songwriter, Jack Noonan, it also helped the band secure an appearance on national television on a ballad music programme.

Interestingly, this record was produced by Bill Whelan from his Limerick studios.

John, who worked as a sales representative for different firms including a record company, recalled in a Clare Champion interview in May 2019, the band started out during the so-called “ballad boom” when the Dubliners, Clancy Brothers and the Wolfe Tones were big hits with music fans.

John said a love of music and having the craic is what brought and keeps band members together.

Band members have no plans for retirement yet. John joked “we will keep playing until we fall down, we might as well”.

“We are still playing a lot of the same songs as we did in 1967,” he said.

John will be sadly missed by his loving wife, Betty, daughters Deirdre and Joan, sons Jonathan and Edmund, daughters in law Eline and Caroline, son in law Eugene and grandchildren Sean, Ciara, Eibhlin, Cillian, Vesper, Mabel, Fiadh, Ethan and Noah. RIP.


Dan Danaher

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