The death has taken place of one of Nenagh best known characters, veterinary Jack (Ginger) Powell, who was in his 102nd year. Mr Powell, who lived in Ballinaclough, died last Friday and his funeral will be held this Friday from St Mary’s Church of Ireland Church, Nenagh
Jack Powell was born in 1913 and educated first in Toomevara National School before spending a year in Ballymackey Church of Ireland Diocesan School and had his second level education at a boarding school in Sligo.
He attended veterinary college in Dublin and graduated in 1936. Mr Powell practised first in England where he took a post with the British Ministry for Agriculture during the 1937 Foot and Mouth epidemic. He married his late wife, Sheila, in 1943, the same year he joined the Canadian Air Force, serving as a flying instructor during WWII.
He returned to Nenagh in 1947 and established a veterinary practice at 26 Summerhill, from which he retired only a couple of years back. He became Europe’s longest-serving vet when he completed over 75 years in practice in 2011 and was persented with a gold medal by then President Mary McAleese.
Born into a farming family at Blean, Toomevara, on May 29, 1913, Jack Powell – the youngest of five children of Bob and Ellen Powell – lived through the War of Independence, the Civil War and two world wars.
Jack was also involved in the very first testing of animals for TB when the British ministry started its Tuberculosis (Attested Herds) Scheme to wipe out TB in 1938.
“When I came back to Nenagh in 1947 they were almost TB free in England. We hadn’t even started here. I tested my first herd in 1954 when the scheme was launched. It was quite common to have all the cows and calves test positive for the disease, along with one or two members of the family,” he recalled on the occasion of his 100th birthday.
Jack was renowned for being a great horse man, dealing with difficult horses and turning them around as well as having a great memory for pedigree.
He also owned a horses, among them Royal Frolic, which he bought as a foal for £400. He was a winner at the RDS Horse Show before going on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1976 by five lengths at 14/1 after being sold to a British trainer.
Jack was always associated with his trademark VW, a make of car he drove from 1953. His bought his last one to mark his 100th birthday from Tom Harvey Motors in Thurles, And wherever you saw Jack and his VW you would always find one of his beloved terriers, Trudy or Trixy.
He was honoured by the Irish Shows Association, which he helped found and served as its first chairman. Jack also took a lifelong interest in the preservation and improvement of Irish bloodstock as a member of the Hunter Improvement Society and the Traditional Irish Horse Association.
On the eve of his 100th birthday, he said that he would gladly do it all again. “I loved the work, I loved meeting the farmers and I loved having a bit of banter with them. I didn’t do it for the money. I feel very lucky and very proud to have seen and witnessed so much in his life,” he said.
Jack was the third member of his family to notch up a century. His mother turned 100 in 1970 and his brother turned 100 in May 2012.
Jack Powell is survived by his sons Charles, John and Richard; daughter-in-law Mary; grandchildren Rebecca, Sarah, Richard and Nicole, nephews, nieces, carers Elizabeth, Jean and Liam, a host of family and many friends.
He is reposing at his residence on Wednesday from 2pm to 6pm and again on Thursday from 2pm to 6pm. Reception into St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, Nenagh, at 7pm. Funeral Service on Friday at 11am, followed by burial in Toomevara Church of Ireland Graveyard.