The tightly knit community around Longorchard, and the greater parish of Moyne Templetuohy came to a standstill last weekend to welcome one of their own home and to pay tribute to the late Kevin Fogarty who died suddenly in the UK.
"Only the good die young." So said Kevin's heartbroken father Richie as hundreds of visitors came to pay their respects to a young man who had touched the lives of so many in such a short life - he was just thirty two years young, very recently married to Laurena and looking forward to all the joys, dreams and challenges that life would bring.
But, tragedy cut short his dreams and on the 12th anniversary of the death in a car accident of his brother Ricky, Kevin too was taken to the Lord, to compound the tremendous anguish of his parents Richie and Bridget and his surviving brother Shane.
Kevin had been on holiday with his wife of only a few weeks and their children Callum and Layla Jane when the tragedy occurred - they have been left in a state of bewilderment and are broken hearted that the centre of their universe has been taken away.
Visitors to Longorchard throughout last week and to the Sacred Heart Church Templetuohy on Sunday could not but be taken by the sense of community spirit and solidarity which enveloped the Fogarty family in their time of need. Neighbours, friends and parishioners joined together to help ease the burden and in best traditions of rural Ireland, Kevin Fogarty was looked after as one of their own, as were those who were in mourning around whom a comforting arm was wrapped.
The Church was packed to capacity on Sunday as the congregation celebrated the all-too-short life of a man who had achieved so much. And, when it came to conveying Kevin to his final resting place in Templetuohy Cemetery, former GAA and soccer colleagues were there in strength to comfort each other and walk those final steps with their friend.
Kevin was a very prominent and talented sportsman who had represented Ireland in international soccer having played with Peake Villa, and was also a staunch Moyne Templetuohy GAA man.
Peake Villa FC penned a touching tribute to the deceased stating that he had played schoolboys football with the club since he was thirteen. "He won a lot of domestic honours with the club in schoolboy football and was capped for Ireland at U14, U15 and U16 level. He won two Munster youths cups with the club and represented the club in two Fai Youth Cup Finals. He played with Villa in the National U21 League and also was on the team that got to the Fai Junior Cup semi final. Both Kevin's brothers Shane and Ricky also represented the club at schoolboys and Junior level. His passing is made harder to take with his brother Ricky's anniversary at this time. Our thoughts are with Kevin's wife and kids, his parents Richard and Bridget and brother Shane at this time," the statement said.
Moyne Templetuohy GAA club also paid tribute to the deceased. "When the news broke on last Sunday morning that the Almighty God had robbed us of Kevin our hearts went out to his immediate family and friends, his workmates and colleagues. His parish in Templetuohy Moyne and surrounding parishes throughout Tipperary and indeed further afield where Kevin worked and played were saddened to learn that Kevin had gone to his eternal reward.
"At 32 years of age Kevin was too young to leave us. During that short period of time he had touched the lives of so many people that he came in contact with whether it was in his native Tipperary, Kildare or wherever his job of work had brought him. Kevin was everybody’s friend and anyone who knew him was the better for it. He enjoyed life and he lived his short life to the fullest. Kevin would always greet you with a smile on his face. He was never known to be in bad humour and when things would get serious on the job or on the playing field he would always be the one person that would put you in good humour again with one of his witty remarks and roguish smile.
"After his family and friends Kevin’s great love was hurling, football and soccer. In a Gaelic career spanning nearly 24 years he was part and parcel of the Moyne-Templetuohy GAA club and wore the Green and Gold jersey with pride and distinction. Glancing back on records - Kevin won many mid and county titles in hurling and football at both juvenile and adult level with Moyne Templetuohy. He won U10 County, Munster and All Ireland medals in Football. He won an All-Ireland U14 hurling medal against Portuma playing alongside his late brother Ricky. At adult level he was only 17 years of age when he won his first senior divisional medal for Moyne Templetuohy in football after a lapse of 15 years. In 2005 Kevin won a divisional and county intermediate football final with Moyne Templetuohy. He was also part of the U21 team that won 4 in a row divisional titles in hurling and football. A brilliant hurler he won 3 Intermediate hurling finals lining out in the following positions; midfield, wing forward and corner forward. Kevin’s talent knew no bounds, he could play in any position in hurling and football from goalkeeper to corner forward.
"While we celebrate Kevin’s 32 years of life here let us for one moment remember his family - his parents Richie and Bridget, his beloved wife Laurena, his adorable children Layla Jane and Callum, his brother Shane and extended family members. Not alone today do they need our support, but tomorrow, next week, next month and the years that lie ahead. Kevin you will never be forgotten, May You Rest In Peace dear friend."
When tragedy comes to the door, nobody wants to see it cross the threshold and invade the precious space inside. The Fogarty family have stared this scenario in the face on two occasions now as Ricky and Kevin have been taken from them - their pain cuts very deep indeed. However, they have been strengthened by the goodwill, support and comfort afforded them by their community and they will need that support in the coming days, weeks and months ahead, but especially over the Festive Season.
To Laurena (Meagher), Callum and Layla Jane, Bridgie, Richie and Shane, in-laws Eamonn, Mary, Orla, Eilish, Pat and Davey, his nephews Ethan, Killian & Conor and his niece Julia, sympathy is tendered at this very difficult time.
May he sleep peacefully, reunited with his brother Ricky in their Heavenly home.
Kevin is pictured above in his schoolboy days as an Irish international.