Last Friday night, I was privileged to attend a very special and touching Memorial Service held appropriately at Waterpark Rugby Club for the late Bryan Daunt. This was to mark the 30th anniversary of a tragically early death of a fine young 20 year old whose all too short life was so full of promise. Bryan was a special kind of guy, a devoted son of Olive and Harry, a dear brother of Des and Deirdre. The service was lead by Dean Trevor Lester and Fr Patrick Cooney.
Bryan like his brother Des and sister Deirdre were pupils at Newtown School were he proved himself to be both a diligent pupil in the classroom and a keen sportsman, especially rugby, on the sport’s field. He is affectionately remembered for his lively sense of good-humoured fun. He was regarded for both his strength and gentleness in equal measure – a rare quality, indeed. He developed his love of rugby at Newtown.
On leaving school he went to Dublin were he completed a National Certificate in Engineering with distinction and following that attended Gurteen Agricultural College to pursue his studies in agriculture, a natural career choice coming from a farming background. He had grown up on a farm out Kilmeadan way and loved working alongside parents Harry and Olive.
His love and enthusiasm for rugby lead Bryan to joining Waterpark which he enjoyed thoroughly and was developing into a first-class player. Sadly it was all cut short when suddenly one evening- on 2nd of December 1979, this fine young sportsman, gentleman and son of the soil, died following a training session at the club. Though his life was all too short and his loss considerable, he left an indelible mark on all those who have been privileged to have known him.
A teacher recalls good memories
Roger Johnson, one of the group of Bryan’s teachers who attended, delivered this moving reflection on Bryan’s days at Newtown.
“Tonight we are gathered here to pay tribute to Bryan, who so tragically died 30 years ago this week. I taught Bryan during his 6 years at Newtown School and in particular I was his Rugby coach for much of that time. My memories are like those of many of his friends and class-mates (some of whom are here tonight – Roger McClure, Elmer Dool, Geoff Harris and maybe others).
Bryan was a boy who anyone would be proud of and delighted to have as a son. He was an open, friendly, helpful young man – with a lovely smile and happy disposition. He always did his best and gave of his best. I have a mental picture of Bryan with his gentle, enquiring face and bright big eyes – and with his family background it is easy to see why he was given the nickname ‘Calf’.
As evident from the archival photographs Bryan was on the Senior Rugby XV for at least 3 seasons; 1973/4, 1984/5 and 1975/6 his final year at school. He also captained the JCT team (under 16 at that time) in 1974/5. He loved the game, and as I said earlier – always gave of his best, which was very good.
Others also missing
Sadly, looking at these photographs, there are a number of his team mates who have also left us from this earth – Peter Pim, ‘Shortie’ or Adrian Short and Austin Driver. Perhaps we might remember them also. This should make us realise how precious our lives are and how important it is to live fully while we have this God-given opportunity.
It has been wonderful over the years to have had the Daunt Cup – in memory of Bryan – being played for between Waterpark College and Newtown School. It has been good to remember Bryan in this way. I have always appreciated and enjoyed meeting Harry, Olive, Des and Deirdre on many occasions along the side line at these matches – as indeed tonight also – to remember and pay tribute to a very special son and brother.
In conclusion, some memories of his class mates which seem appropriate include: ‘His genuine decency and laconic sense of humour’; ‘FEF just loved him and held him in high esteem – they had a really good connection.”; “I think we called him ‘Calf’ as he was a farmer’s son and probably because he was a gentle and nice lad. Thinking about him, as an adult, he would have been a very loyal and loving husband and father. What a pity he could never reach that state.”
And finally, “I remember him as the nicest ‘gentle giant’ of a guy. Thank you Bryan.”
Ken MacCormack, also a former teacher of Bryan speaking on behalf of Waterpark Club, welcomed all those had come to remember him and cherished his memory as a former pupil and club member. Brother Des expressed appreciation on behalf of the family for the tributes paid to Bryan at this memorial service, a celebration of his life among us.
Words from the wise and the brave
To conclude we turn to sister Deirdre who offered some great quotations from rugby legends which she was confident Bryan would have liked. Some are as follows: ‘If you think you are beaten you are’; ‘If you think you dare not, you don’t’; ‘If you like to win, but you think you can’t, it’s almost a cinch you won’t’; ‘If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost’.
Bryan has indeed left us with good memories.
Slan, Aris, A Chara Dhilis.