Pat Donnelly: Talented footballer, road bowler and devoted family man
THERE was no denying the devotion Pat Donnelly had to his family as a husband, a father and a brother.
All who were lucky to know him knew him as a family man and a gentleman.
Patrick, known as Pat or PD by his family and friends, was born in October 1969 to John and Margaret Donnelly in Blackwatertown, Co Armagh.
He was the seventh of 10 children and the youngest boy.
As a toddler, his best friend was his sister Anne. On Anne’s first day of school, Pat missed her so much he spent the entire day sitting on the window sill in their house in Quaymount looking out, waiting for her to return.
When he finally spotted Anne walking down the road he was so overcome with excitement he fell out of the window, breaking his arm.
Even as a young child Pat wasn’t afraid to show those he loved how much they meant to him.
Like his brothers and sisters before him, he attended St Jarlath’s Primary School in Blackwatertown and then went onto St Brigid’s High School, Armagh.
At his funeral in his adopted home of Eglish, Fr John Heagney noted that one of his primary school mates said he was the smartest boy in the class and yet the only one not to do the 11-plus test.
From an early age it was evident that Pat knew his interests lay outside of the classroom.
When his sister Marie married Eglish man John Barrett, Pat helped him out in his free time in the concrete yard.
And when John found out that his younger sister Roisin, all ready for her formal, had been stood up at the last minute, he and Marie stepped up and found the perfect replacement in Pat.
Little did anyone know at that time that this chance encounter would lead to 27 years of happy marriage and five amazing children.
Pat and Roisin married in August 1994 in St Patrick’s Church, Eglish.
While an Armagh man through and through, he happily followed his heart across the Tyrone border and settled at Crubinagh Road where he and Roisin raised their family.
However, Pat still retained his deep Blackwatertown routes and loved representing his home club.
He was a prolific forward and an integral part of An Port Mór’s 1991 championship-winning team along with his brother Joby, emulating their father's success in 1953.
Football was not the only sport he excelled at. Along with his two brothers, Pat enjoyed going with his father to play road bowls.
This was also tradition Pat carried on with his own son Karol. Every Sunday, they would join his brothers Joby and Bruce and nephew Oisin at the An Port Mór road bowls.
Looking around the family’s home, his success in sport was apparent with numerous pictures, trophies and medals on display.
However, Pat’s greatest achievement in life was not the 1991 final, nor any trophies. Instead he knew it was his five children - Mark, Catherine, Sean, Gerard and Karol.
They say a father is not defined by the number of children you can see but by the love he holds in his heart.
Pat Donnelly can be defined as some father because the love he held for his children and his family could never be exceeded. He took such pride in watching them grow up and was their number one supporter both on and off the football pitch.
Pat and Roisin travelled across the county to cheer the boys and Catherine on to sporting success.
There was no missing Pat when he sat on the side lines and often times you heard him long before you would see him - testament to his love of the sport and love of his children.
It was recently remarked that he was one of the best lineside supporters for the Moy ladies, rarely missing a match and always there encouraging his daughter Catherine.
Pat was rarely seen without a smile on his face. He was a very unassuming man and regularly carried out countless acts of kindness and would be seen planting and strimming around the Eglish area as part of the Cross Community Group.
His sudden passing on August 28 has shocked the whole community of Eglish, Blackwatertown and further afield.
He was highly regarded in his work, his parish and the GAA community. He made an impact in so many people’s lives without even being aware.
To his family and friends he has left an irreplaceable void. The moment Pat’s heart stopped our lives were changed forever.
His month's mind Mass will be held on Wednesday September 29 at 7.30pm in St Patrick’s Church, Eglish.