My job for the next few months is to represent the Northern Standard as Carrickmacross correspondent in South Monaghan while the staff journalist is on maternity leave (congratulations Veronica on the new arrival!). I enclose the first two pages of Carrickmacross news from last Thursday’s edition (January 8th 2015). Pictures are by Pat Byrne.
JB THE FUNDRAISER FROM KILLANNY
Around the parish of Killanny and further afield everyone knows him simply as ‘JB’. John Byrne from Lannatt is a former mechanic who used to repair and sell cars. Once it was easy work for him to lift an engine out of a car. But a heart attack thirteen years ago which he was lucky to survive meant he would have difficulty for a time lifting small objects such as a can of peas. He is now doing everything he can to ensure that potentially life-saving equipment is readily available at strategic points throughout the parish such as the parochial hall and a local restaurant.
Chatting to him at his house he told me how he had once been an active sportsman. He played football for Killanny GAA Club and also represented the county mainly at under-21 and minor level. He captained the Killanny side that won the double (championship and league) in 1979 earning them promotion from junior to intermediate and eventually senior level. He went on to become chairman and also manager of the club. But in February 2002 at a time when his work was becoming more and more pressurized he had a heart attack. He was taken to hospital in Dundalk and transferred to Dublin for treatment. Three months later he knew he was beginning to recover when he was able to walk from his house along the laneway that leads to the main road. But it would take nearly two years before he could resume work. His wife Noeleen and daughter Aoife (a keen footballer) were then able to help him in his next project. During his rehabilitation in Dundalk hospital JB noticed there was a need for equipment in a small gym that had been established there. So he helped to raise IR£4500 by asking a number of friends to do a bunjee jump at a parish sports day. Then in 2007 a stroll near the River Glyde inspired him to do a river walk, not alongside but in the water itself. Dressed as James Bond and wearing a dry suit over his tuxedo and bow tie, he managed to walk two miles in the river, ending up by killing off a crocodile-like figure that had been put in the water to introduce a bit of drama. His friends at the Riverbank pub provided sustenance after he successfully completed his task. The money raised was enough to provide six defribrillators which were installed at the GAA pitch and other public areas around the parish. They are kept inside specially marked boxes and cost around IR£3000 each. Now the emphasis is on training people in how to use them. JB’s target is to get two people in every household in Killanny (population around 1200) trained in the use of these devices. The youngest person trained so far is 15 and the oldest 85. As the man himself put it: ‘the fun part was the fundraising, the work is only starting now’.