Peter John Rafferty: Founder member and unstinting servant of Killeeshil GFC
ONE day in 1956, Peter John Rafferty and his brother Paul bought a pigskin football and began kicking around in a field on their farm at Tullyvannon, beside the old A4 road in Co Tyrone.
The county had just won their first ever Ulster senior championship and interest in Gaelic football was huge.
Word quickly spread in the parish of Killeeshil and the Raffertys were soon joined by up to 20 others for the evening kick-abouts.
This led to a decision to form a club, St Mary’s GFC, and Peter John was the anchor from the outset.
He was one of the few men who had a car at the time and was more than happy to transport half a team to games in the days when passenger regulations were a bit more relaxed.
The club struggled in its early years owing to mass emigration in the 1950s and early 1960s.
It had no fixed abode and moved around regularly, taking goal posts cut from pine trees to any reasonably flat agricultural land that was available.
In the late 1960s Peter John, pictured, was instrumental in purchasing the land in Killeeshil where the club is now based.
He was to the forefront in having the initial field developed, on the same site Killeeshil Community Centre was built in the 1990s.
Right up to his death aged 83 on July 13, his commitment to St Mary’s never diminished. He was a club president, trustee and a source of wise counsel and in his latter years he derived great satisfaction from supporting boys and girls in youth teams.
On the introduction in 2017 of the Tyrone Credo Awards for service to the GAA, Peter John was the club’s first recipient of a gold award in recognition of his lifetime of unstinting service.
Peter John Rafferty was patient, tolerant and generous. He had a strong Catholic faith, which he lived in true Christian fashion. He had friends in all sections of the community.
Like in his farming days when he worked at potatoes, carefully preparing the ground and planting seed, the biggest seed he planted can still be seen in the green and white hoops of Killeeshil GFC.
He was an exemplary volunteer whose community spirit and all-round decency is an example to us all.
To Marie, Brian, Colm, Sean, Brenda, Nigel and Noleen, his grandchildren, his sister and entire family circle, Killeeshil GFC offers its sincere sympathy on your loss and our deep gratitude for his legacy.