Obituary: Seamus Lynch, Knockroe, Passage East and Suirway Bus Company

The late Seamus Lynch

The late Seamus Lynch

Despite the fact that he was well into his 97th year, the death of Séamus Lynch Knockroe, Passage East unexpectedly on Saturday November 19th 2016 came as a shock and a surprise to his family and many friends not alone in his native place but all over Ireland and outside it too.

Just getting ready to watch the Ireland/ New Zealand Rugby game on TV in the presence of his devoted and loyal wife Mona of sixty one years, he slipped off peacefully.

Séamus was a man for all seasons and a man of many talents with a marvellous positive outlook on life and an equally magnificent appetite for work, manually and mentally, and blessed with great health right up to the very end. In a life that was lived to the very full he also found time for his family, for the many organisations he served and for the social side.

His remains were removed from Thompson’s Funeral Home, Waterford on Tuesday November 22nd to Crooke Church and his Requiem Mass celebrated by Rev Fr Brian Power PP was held on the Wednesday morning at which his son Brendan and a friend of the family covered the life and times of Séamus. Fr Power, in a lovely homily, said that there was an old saying that ‘hard work never killed anyone’ and it fitted Seamus to perfection.

Brendan’s Address
Son Brendan delivered a very moving tribute to his father and it went as follows: “In his near century of life, Seamus’s zest for living was surely his most idiosyncratic and enduring quality. As you all know he was madly gregarious, and loved nothing more than a gathering of people, large or small, and whether race meetings or card games, soccer or hurling matches, committee meetings or cattle marts, he threw himself into everything at the drop of a hat.

As a family growing up we could always tell when one of these events was brewing as he dashed about the house humming one of his vintage 1930s tunes, his favourite was surely the mildly risqué “Miss Brown”. In spite of both parents dying in his early teenage years, as well as a third brother Denis, he and Eddie were nurtured by their generous (and childless) Aunt Cis, who lived at Portlaw and sent them to Waterpark. She remained a strong and charming presence into our early childhood.

From the start Dad had a passionate interest in the Community. He started out as a County Councillor in the 50s (heading the Poll in the Tramore Electoral Area in 1955 and didn’t seek re-election in 1960) and went on to manage and take over his uncle Rich’s transport business, delving into haulage in the 70s, land re-development in the 80s and property in the 90s.

He continued throughout to farm in his own determined if unconventional way. He had the Irishman’s passion for the land, and loved his cattle above all, continuing to visit his herd daily, at Knockroe or Dromina, well into his 90s.

His career was nothing if not unpredictable and there were considerable ups and downs, not that we ever knew of them.

But there was always time for spontaneous outings, which as children took two distinct forms: country shows, horse fairs or the hunt, with the late, great, Nicky Donnelly – perhaps Dad’s greatest friend and a remarkable raconteur – or his brother Bobby, which embraced the perhaps obvious combination of fried breakfasts, ice-cream, smoke–filled cars and of course whiskey, whereas those with my mother were firmly veered towards the cultural, culminating in a choice hotel such as Cahir House or Lawlor’s of Dungarvan.

Stark contrasts were a feature of our upbringing, and they tend to be rather addictive. Dad was truly passionate about racing, he liked to bet, he liked horses and even had a costly stab at breeding, but it was the conviviality of the meetings that gave him the greatest of pleasures, uppermost is what must amount to several years of depleting flagons of Cork Gin in the Owners and Trainers Bar at Tramore with another great friend Billy Chapman.

Then there were annual holidays at the Galway races with Donal and Mary O’Connor, and later many now legendary trips to Cheltenham, not least in 1986 when Charmian Hill won the Gold Cup with Dawn Run.

Devoted to his five nephews, having taken many exotic business-related trips with Edward, the one at which we all wish we had been the proverbial fly on the wall is undoubtedly his 2002 trip to Japan and Korea with Pat and his 15-year old son for the World Cup. I almost forgot to mention golf, which he took up at 70 and quit at 90! He joined the club at Faithlegg House and though I am not a sportsman I think those who are would agree it was an excruciating experience to watch Dad’s game.

Around the same period he was involved in the revival of the Waterford Show, and was deeply involved with the Woodstown Fair. As to cards, it was poker or 30s weekly at The Saratoga in Woodstown with a small circle formed by my aunt Addie, with whom he played for over 40 years, the last game only a year or so ago. His lifelong reading matter was restricted to The Field, The Farmers Journal, The Munster Express and The Irish Times, but his granddaughter Ciara tells me that she once caught him breezing through her copy of Hello! Perhaps his most superlative quality as a father was to encourage risk-taking in his children, usually to our mother’s horror, and this embraced travel to any far-flung corner of the world – so the 80s saw me headed for India, Ita for the Amazon, Orla for trekking in Nepal and Brian to Ghana. Geraldine however stuck her first choice, the south of France.

Once I formed my own antiques dealership twenty years ago he took particular interest in different aspects of the trade, presciently encouraging me to do deals in America. He also had a mischievous side which could work in your favour or not, and this was tried on all of his children including honing Brian’s diplomatic skills and innate tolerance in taking over the business from a highly reluctant nonagenarian.

Few would deny that Dad had an enviable way of getting away with murder! In their sixty-one years of marriage, it was our mother’s strength of character, wise judgment and generosity of spirit that enabled Dad to achieve so much and, in recent years, through her care and vigilance to retain his quality of life for so very long. Dad was not a man for mottoes but one he did quote was: You die if you worry, you die if you don’t, so why worry? As a true optimist, I think we would all agree Seamus certainly lived his life accordingly.”

Anecdotes and Memories
At the request of the family, Fintan Walsh, a native of Passage East and a long time friend of the deceased, in another tribute spoke of the Séamus he knew. He opened by saying that Seamus was a Hero in his eyes due in the main to two things, his marvellous positive outlook on life and his tremendous appetite for work and said when you met him you usually came away in a much better frame of mind. He said he knew him as a farmer, threshing machine operator with his late friend Pierre Murphy, haulage contractor, businessman, card player, sportsman, a man of wit and of course he will always be remembered for being the Man at the Helm for so long of the very successful Suirway Bus Company which he inherited from his uncle Rich Flynn who set up the business in 1928 and which is now a major company with his son Brian now the driving force.

Fintan said that whenever the name of Séamus Lynch was mentioned, three great workers of his came to mind, the late Jimmy Hanrahan (Jimmy the Bus) a loyal driver with him , the late Percy Hutchinson who started with him as a child, then mid life left him to drive in Bell Ferry but like the Prodigal Sion returned to work with Seamus for the rest of his life, and finally Willie Elliott who has unfortunately been in ill health for some time. All three gave dedicated service to Rich Flynn also and all were self made mechanics and needed to be in that era.

Touching on the humorous side of the deceased which his uncle Rich had in abundance also Fintan gave a number of instances of his travels and quick fire wit, a court case which saw him charged with haulage of cattle 1 1/2 miles outside his licence area and of a set too with a neighbour over water and an accusation by that neighbour that Séamus had cut the tops of his corn with a scissors.

He mentioned the many social events they were part of together where Séamus gave it 100 % and said his card games with his two great friends Seán O’Keeffe and the late Seán O’Donovan could at times be explosive if some partner made an error, male or female.

Just a few months ago he said the Parish had a wonderful 1916 Commemoration Day and Séamus was there in the procession and very much part of it. In conclusion Fintan said that while it was a time of sadness for his wife Mona in particular and her family it was also a celebration of a life lived to the full and that like all of us human beings – without exception – he would have had his little failings, imperfections etc but his many strengths far outweighed these.

He hoped Séamus in his new life would get even more fulfilment than he had in his life on earth. After his mass his burial took place in Crooke Cemetery. At both his removal and Requiem mass mourners were present in large numbers from many walks of life .He is survived by his wife Mona, sons Brendan and Brian, daughters, Geraldine Ita and Órla grandchildren, sons in law, daughters in law sisters in law, nephews and nieces and many other relatives. Sympathy is extended to all

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