A Tribute to the Late Mick Ahern from Kill GAA Club

When Mick Ahern passed away suddenly last month, Kill GAA Club lost not alone a great clubman and a loyal friend, but a larger-than-life personality, leaving a further sad void within the wider local community.
Arriving in Waterford as a new Garda in the early seventies, Mick’s reputation as a footballer preceded him. A native of Loughnagore, Farranfore, he had played for the Kerry minor team beaten by Derry in All-Ireland in 1965, and also the side denied the Under-21 title by Mayo two years later.

The late Mick Ahern – fourth player from the right, lining out with Kill in the 1974 championship semi-final against Dunhill at Walsh Park.

The late Mick Ahern – fourth player from the right, lining out with Kill in the 1974 championship semi-final against Dunhill at Walsh Park.

However, Mick claimed a cherished Celtic Cross as a sub on the Kerry team (including Mick O’Connell and Mick O’Dwyer) that beat Offaly in the 1969 All-Ireland Senior Final, a few weeks after Farranfore airport opened.
The Currow clubman had established himself as one of the best fielders in the Kingdom and when the great John O’Keeffe withdrew through injury, Mick got the popular nod to go on a “world tour” with the victorious Sam Maguire-winning panel the following spring — a trip of a lifetime that took in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
He entered the Garda ranks at the dawn of the new decade and was posted to Waterford in 1971. He joined forces with the Kill footballers three years later and gave several talismanic seasons with a team in transition — also regularly playing for Waterford during that period.

A great fielder, with a superb pair of hands, Mick played at centre-back and midfield for Kill, before being utilised as a full-forward in later years.A hugely strong man too and a old classmate of Moss Keane’s, he also played rugby for Waterpark from 1977-’83 as a dynamic try-scoring prop (a rarity in those days) and his line-out prowess was a sight to behold.
Having retired, Mick made a comeback in the mid-’80s. Around that time the family relocating to the farm at Rathquage, Bonmahon, home place of his wife Margaret, whom he’d married a decade earlier. He played junior for a couple of seasons before calling it quits for good to concentrate on his career and the family farm.Having risen to the rank of Detective in the city before being stationed in Stradbally, he remained a fair-minded and dutiful member of An Garda Siochána until his retirement from the force in 2000.He took over as a manager of the Kill senior footballers in 1999–2000 and was chairman of the club from 2001-’05, being instrumental in getting floodlighting at the field.

He continued to be a supporter of Kill GAA, attending games regularly — and, despite his roots, was an avid Waterford fan. He travelled the country to see the hurlers in action, and watched the footballers at Fraher Field; including, on many occasions, his son Mick, who campaigned for Kill and the county with distinction and also played for Munster.
Keeping active, Mick became a member of the Gold Coast Golf Club, where, with his ciotóg swing, he loved taking money off his friends, and enjoyed his golfing holidays abroad every autumn.You always looked forward to meeting Mick, who was guaranteed entertainment. He loved a laugh, could get on with young and old alike, regardless of their background, and retained a grá for traditional music. A character with that natural “Ciarraí” charm, he loved a bit of slagging. He made out Waterford was the true land of opportunity and not America.

However, devastating sadness enveloped Mick’s world with the premature passing of his beloved daughter Ruth in late 2014. It came as a grievous loss to her own husband and daughters and the entire Ahern family, not least her parents, and her siblings, Caroline, Michael and Rachel.Though blessed by six grandchildren, the big man found that personal tragedy a tough cross to carry. Still, Mick bore his own ill-health with fortitude and courage, so much so that his death, at 71, came as a great shock. Signalling the respect he was held in, Mick’s wake, funeral mass and burial in Kill on August 23-24 last were attended by vast numbers from the locality and many miles beyond.

Guards of Honour were formed by his various sporting-club and Garda colleagues, who were joined in paying their respects to the man and his family by his countless acquaintances from across County Waterford, Kerry, and elsewhere — uniting to share stories of the good times Mick had been such a central player in. Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

The late Mick Ahern’s Month’s Mind mass will be held at Kill Church this Friday, September 21st at 7.30pm.

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