Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

John O’Reilly: Life-long GAA stalwart mourned

Tributes have been paid to respected GAA stalwart, John O’Reilly, who passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday last.  

A native of Crossmaglen, John (83) lived in Camlough and his funeral in St. Malachy’s Church on Saturday was one of the largest in the area for some time, drawing mourners from across the country to pay their respects to the popular businessman.

A respected administrator within the GAA and incumbent President of Crossmaglen Rangers GFC where he spent his playing days, John served on committees at every level, formerly holding the position of County Chairman and Honorary President of Armagh County Board, as well as President of the Ulster Council.

Although best known throughout Ireland for his life-long association with the GAA (which is examined in greater detail in the sports section of this edition), John O’Reilly was first and foremost a family man.  Born and reared in Crossmaglen, he met and married his wife Angela in 1963 and the couple settled in Camlough where they raised their seven children.  An astute businessman, John had a number of business interests and forged a very successful career in the wholesale liquor industry, a business that continues to thrive under the auspices of his sons.

The couple’s path was not without heartache, however, and in 2007 they lost their eldest son Brian after a short illness.

John’s untimely passing on Tuesday last follows an incident a week earlier in which he sustained an injury while on respite care in a dementia assessment ward in Mullinure Health and Wellbeing Centre at St Luke’s Hospital, Armagh.  It has emerged police are investigating the incident that involved another patient aged in his 70s and a file is being prepared for the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

Newry and Armagh SDLP MLA Justin McNulty offered his condolences to John’s bereaved family, describing him as “a proud family man, a successful business man and a passionate GAA man”.

He said: “John was a brilliant organiser and brought his business nous to his roles in the GAA.  He took immense pride in the All-Ireland wins of Crossmaglen and Armagh.  John was a proud Crossmaglen man and a proud Armagh man and as Ulster President, he had the honour of witnessing Armagh win the Sam Maguire in 2002.   He will he missed by his family, friends, neighbours and the entire Armagh GAA community.”

Left to mourn John’s passing are his wife Angela, daughters Frances, Maureen, Deirdre and Grainne, sons Garrett and Kevin, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, sisters, brothers and wider family circle, to whom deepest sympathy is extended.