Pat Wray: Dedicated community volunteer and devoted family man
PAT Wray was the last surviving member of the committee which founded Brookeborough Heber McMahon’s GAA club in 1955.
He was a club trustee and honorary president and gave exemplary service to Gaelic football not only locally but in Fermanagh.
Pat was a still young man when he saw the need for a club in the Aghavea parish.
The challenges were immense: scarcity of finance, problems obtaining a suitable pitch and the constant lure of employment for young people across the Irish Sea.
Pat's personality and communication skills were among his many attributes that proved useful, whether it was persuading land owners to rent a field or defusing confrontation in a committee or dressing room.
He had an ability as a trainer or manager to encourage players to perform without being over-critical.
He also acted as a volunteer taxi service, and through almost all of the 1960s he served as club secretary.
There were many ups and downs in the first six years before a breakthrough in 1962 when Brookeborough captured the Fermanagh junior league and championship.
Pat was then part of a key group including Fr Tom Breen who were responsible for driving the club to intermediate championship success in 1965.
In 1970 he took over as manager and they reached the senior county final the following year.
Even though a disappointing defeat at the hands of Teemore is still much talked about locally, one of the greatest achievements was about to be secured with the purchase of the parish ground at Lismalore and development into a county-standard playing surface.
A community hall and dressing rooms followed in 1988 and a second playing pitch in 2002.
Many of us have witnessed Pat over recent decades making himself busy with maintenance at the complex. This was surely a labour of love for this dedicated volunteer who was so instrumental in seeing the club through many challenges over a 50-year period.
He had every right to feel an immense pride in a fruitful journey.
The GAA was a large part of Pat Wray’s life but it did not define the person he was, a gentleman by nature and a devoted family man.
Having a strong Christian faith, he gave great service to his parish, which became Aghavea-Aughintaine in 1986.
Pat gave great assistance to the clergy, especially at funeral masses in Brookeborough church, and took pride in decorating it for Advent season.
Years of selfless work were recognized in 2015 when he was presented the Benemerenti Medal.
Pat was born in 1932 to James and Kathleen Wray (née Reilly), the fifth in a family of eight. He was predeceased by siblings Willie, Jim, Jack, Dominic, Kathleen, Rosleen and Aggie.
After school he worked for local farmers before beginning a long spell with P Clarke’s quarry at Lisnaskea as a lorry driver, finishing his working life there.
He died on July 22 in his 90th year and many people lined the route from his family home at Cavanagarvan for his funeral at St Mary’s Church, with the last 100 yards a poignant guard of honour from members of the Brookeborough club.
Pat will be greatly missed by his devoted wife of 63 years Theresa (née Leonard), daughters Geraldine, Mary and Majella, sons Martin, Padraig, Seamus and Barry, 24 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“Pat you ploughed at times, the lonely furrow for the Heber McMahons and lived to see the harvest".