Dan O’Connor RIP – On heaven’s highway

It is with sadness, deep regret and a heavy heart we record the untimely passing on January 10th, 2019 of Dan O’Connor, Cloughleafin, Mitchelstown and formerly of Boherbue.

When word spread of Dan’s illness six months or so ago, his many former colleagues and friends in Dairygold and the community at large, joined his beloved family in praying and hoping that he would make a full recovery and return home to continue life’s journey.

Sadly that was not to be and his passing has evoked many memories of his all too short time on this earth, his dedication and love for his family and friends and his positive contribution to the community he served so well over the years.

Dan moved to Mitchelstown to take up employment in Dairygold where he was a diligent worker, making and sustaining many dear friendships up to his premature passing after his illness bravely borne – the Dan way.

On his departure from Dairygold, Dan took to the highways and byways of Mitchelstown and surrounding areas giving driving lessons as he developed a successful new business. The O’Connor School of Motoring was born circa 2006 and continued to thrive for over twelve years. In this venture, Dan again endeared himself to so many learner drivers, drivers of all ages, at a significant milestone period in life for all his clients.

Over the years, the professional, friendly and unassuming way that were the hallmarks of this fine gentleman, were noted and appreciated by all that encountered him. Dan had a word and smile for everyone and, as a driving instructor who put his learner drivers at ease, the test was secured with the minimum of fuss and stress in most cases.

Dan’s humanity and Christian values shone through at all times, whether at work, in pursuit of his many hobbies or in chatting with the neighbours. This also manifested itself in he donating blood to the IBTS regularly for the benefit of others. Indeed, to his credit and delight, he had clocked up 149 donations and, but for God’s will, would have hit the milestone 150 and many more into the future had he lived!

My first meaningful conversation with Dan was in Palma Airport many years ago, (2006, I reckon) as he, Joan and the girls were also returning to Cork following a fun holiday, and the immediate impression was positive and one never forgotten.

In the intervening years, that first impression was to be reinforced time and again as there was always friendly interaction, a wave, a smile of recognition and good humoured banter, clearly nourished and grounded in his beloved Boherbue in the heart of Duhallow!

These great characteristics have been mentioned again and again by his many friends and acquaintances in the last few days, as we all come to terms with his sad and untimely passing, at 61 years of age. The large crowds that turned out to say a fond farewell and thanks for the many memories, said it all about Dan.

At Monday’s funeral Mass in the local parish church, Joan and the girls paid wonderful, heartfelt and fitting tributes to their adored husband and dad, as two communities gathered in grief and in large numbers to bid adieu to Dan, the man that made a difference in his lifetime, as the human and heavenly landscape continues to change, as time goes by. He clearly will not be forgotten!

While all of us fortunate to have made his acquaintance will miss his personable presence in the community and on the local roads and estates, it is his much loved Joan, Niamh, Aoife and Aishling, brothers Johnny, Jim and Brendan, sisters Noreen and Margaret, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews who will miss him most of all and we extend sincere sympathy to them on their great loss.

It’s our fervent wish and hope that Dan has safely arrived in God’s heavenly kingdom with the N plates sparkling brightly. Then the craic and banter will be mighty in the Boherbue/Mitchelstown corners, where the Cork/Kerry happenings will have a new devotee, well able to give it and take it in spades!

Following requiem Mass, Dan was laid to rest in his adopted parish in Brigown New Cemetery.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis. (JB)