One of Waterford’s much loved characters died last week casting a shadow of sadness over the city, especially for those who played in bands and groups down the years.
Ned Tobin of Ballybeg and formerly of Ferrybank died on Sunday, July 15th following an illness bravely borne. He is survived by his brothers Tom and Joe and sisters, Bernie and Theresa.
It’s hard to know where to start about Ned except to first put on record that he was a lovely, gentle man and the world is a much poorer place for him not being in it. I knew Ned since we were boys and one of the things that always struck me about him was his unfailing politeness and courtesy to everybody, especially women. There was never a wrong word in a lady’s presence. Many would consider Ned’s attitude to be rather old fashioned these days but a little bit of class never goes out of date.
A member of a respected and hard working family, Ned was born and reared in Ferrybank and lived at No 1 Rockenham for most of his youth. In ‘The Village’, then as now, you had to pin your hurling colours to the mast early on. Ned was one of our minority band of Deise supporters and his never wavering love of, and passion for, Waterford hurling stayed with him throughout his life.
He is probably best remembered as an Elvis Presley tribute performer and for all his adult life he graced the various live music venues in the greater Waterford area. He was extremely popular and ever generous with his time. Over a 30-year period there was hardly a charity or fund raising event in Waterford that Ned wasn’t involved in and, needless to say, it was voluntary on his part.
Ned had his own band for a short time in the early 1970s but, really, he is best remembered for his guest spots with other bands. Probably, the group he was most associated with was The Partners comprising Don Duggan and the late Danny Tobin, one of the most popular of all the groups on the bustling cabaret circuit of the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Elvis came to Ned early in life and he was a genuine fan long before it was fashionable. He showed me the first colour photograph of Elvis that I ever saw and, as a child, I remember Ned created a bit of a kerfuffle in Ferrybank one year when he added a photograph of Elvis to his mother’s front window display for the annual May Procession!
As a teenager, Ned was a very good hurler and almost impossible to dispossess when he had the sliothar. He was equally good at soccer and I seem to recall that, at one stage, he played on goal for Ferrybank FC and attracted a lot of attention for his cat-like saves. But, in the end, he didn’t really have the inclination to continue either code seriously because there was too much music to listen to and too many songs to be learned and sung.
In his latter years, Ned appeared to have acquired an unerringly accurate recall for things that had occurred in the past. He would meet you in the street and pluck a date out of the air from 20 years previously and tell you what you were doing and with whom. And he was always spot on!
Ned was laid to rest in his family’s grave in his native Ferrybank and it was nice and fitting to see so many musicians among the mourners. His nephew, Noel Slattery, sang a wonderful ‘How Great Thou Art’ as parish priest Fr James Crotty led Ned’s coffin from the church. And, when the official graveside prayers were over, the golden voice of Ned’s hero, Elvis Aaron Presley, floated on the breeze across the cemetery. Given the occasion, it wasn’t hard to believe that Elvis was singing a special prayer for a special person.