The death of Tom Quinlan on Thursday last, while not unexpected, was received with heartfelt sadness by his many loyal customers in The Spinning Wheel, Castletownroche and by all those who had the pleasure of his acquaintance down through the years.
A larger than life figure, the past few months brought their own challenges for Tom but he bore them with courage and dignity. The huge crowds that paid their respects while Tom lay in repose at his new home in Castletownroche; at the reception and Mass in the local Church of the Immaculate Conception and at the burial in Rathcormac Cemetery, bore testimony to the immense popularity and high esteem in which of Tom and his family are held.
His remains were escorted to the church on Saturday afternoon by members of the various motorcycle and vintage clubs of whom he was a valued supporter. Later, the strains of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, Tom’s favourite song, rang out around the cemetery in Rathcormac with those assembled joining in the chorus – a fitting send off to the man himself.
Tom’s son Kieran, gave the following eulogy at his funeral Mass:
“Its hard to sum Tom Quinlan up in just a few lines. Everyone here will have their own memories of him. Born in Rathcormac in 1949, he moved to Liverpool at 15yrs old and lived for a while with his big brother Michael, and his wife Mary, whom he came to regard as his second mother.
In Liverpool he played hurling with the Harps & Shamrocks and boxed with Golden Gloves BC, which stood him in good stead for the many years he worked as a bouncer in many pubs and clubs across Liverpool and Cork.
He moved back to Rathcormac in 1976 with Dermot and myself in tow, then added Declan and Kevin. He worked as a builder and bouncer as well as collecting many trophies for pool, darts and tug-of-war. One of his proudest achievements was winning a bronze medal with the Harps at the European Tug-of-War championships.
We all worked for him on various jobs as we grew up and he took great pride in teaching us about the value of hard work. When I wanted to leave school at 15, he worked me so hard that summer for very little money, to show me what life would be like leaving school with no qualifications. It worked. He took great pride in teaching me that lesson, but also in getting so much work done for very little money!
In 1989 he bought Crowleys Pub in Castletownroche, which then became The Spinning Wheel. He fell in love with pub life, the village of Castletownroche, it’s people and a few years later, Norrie, who joined him along with Mairead and Paudie. Despite Norrie coming from good stock down in the Rock (Rockchapel), she declared for Kerry – but he loved her anyway!
He furnished The Spinning Wheel with his love of antiques, trad music, Irish coffees and a good sing-song. He never needed a microphone when booming out ‘Waltzing Matilda’.
He’d invite you to ‘come in and see what your Granny threw out’, then much later tell you ‘You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here’ and ‘Have a good night – and think of me’!
In his own words:
I’m Dad or Tom, Grandad, The Bear
I’ve sauntered through without a care
As illness spread, when knocked I’d fight
I was never down, I’d say ‘ALLL RIIIGHT’
I battled hard both night and day
And through it all, did it my way
Don’t worry now ’cos I am free
No more Waltzing Matilda for me.”
Tom will be sorely missed by his wife Norrie (nee Guiney), sons Dermot, Kieran, Declan and Kevin, step children Mairead and Padraig, brother Michael (London), extended family, neighbours and friends to whom we extend or deepest sympathy.