THE oft quoted phrase “the end of an era” fittingly describes the void left in Tullamore by the recent death of one of the town’s oldest and most loved citizens, Paddy Lowbridge.
Paddy, a man of rare wit and genuine warmth, was a devoted family man, diligent worker, avid sportsman and was deeply involved in a host of voluntary groups in the local community.
Paddy was born in Whitehall in 1924 and was beloved husband to Ethna; they were married for 62 years . He was father to Rosemary, Ella, Martina and Majella, and predeceased daughter, Dymphna and infant son, Patrick and grand father to Sorcha, Liath, Deirdre and Elliott.
Paddy worked in the original Tullamore D.E.W. Destillery in the 1940s and was very proud to attend the official opening of the new distillery and visitor centre in recent years.
The Whitehall native started his career at the General Hospital as gardener and then worked as a boiler operator, retiring at 65 after over 40 years service.
Paddy also worked as fireman over 20 years and was a sergeant in the FCA.
He was a devoted member of the musical society in its early years , a life long member of the Legion of Mary and helped with the parish counting the collections.
Paddy was also one of the founding members of TARA, the Tullamore Active Retirement Association, and was involved in it for over 20 years. During this time he travelled the length and breath of Ireland with them.
He was a great stalwart of The Irish National Foresters Conn of the 100 Battles # 351 Tullamore branch. Br Paddy had the distinction of holding every position in the Society, including barman, committee member, Secretary, Treasurer, Sub Chief Ranger, Chief Ranger, High Chief Ranger of Ireland. Br Paddy was la loyal and true Forester and will be sadly missed by his colleagues.
Paddy was a lifelong supporter of Tullamore and Offaly GAA and was delighted to have been able to go and cheer on the success of the Offaly hurlers in the 80’s and 90’s. He played hurling in his youth , but also loved soccer and was a supporter of Tullamore and was an Arsenal and Liverpool fan. He also followed rugby and got to see the All Blacks play Ireland in Croke Park.
Paddy loved horse racing and going to Kilbeggan and other race meetings with his friends, the Kearns.
A man who just loved life, Paddy was also a man of great faith and adored his family.
He also enjoyed reading, especially the daily newspapers and often enjoyed a discussion on the political front.
At his Funeral Mass in the Church of the Assumption the following tribute, penned by family friend, Michael O’Kelly, was read by his grand daughter Sorcha Vaughan.
”He was a real character of rare wit and genuine warmth. One of the very of whom the cliches about being equally able to put princes and paupers at their ease, are actually true.
I always felt having a chat with Paddy was like having the craic with your own crew. And you never knew when he’d drop a nugget of history or a spectacular quote on you. I never met a man who took his own education more seriously.
I think most of us can only have one or two people in our lives at any time, with whom we really click.
Key in lock style, every single time. In that lay down all your burdens for a good belly laugh, sort of way.
Your tribe. Your kind of people.
Paddy always gave you that comfy overcoat feeling when you were in his presence.
He had sort of second ear for what you were really saying after he’d asked you, suddenly serious now, what’s going on in your life.
And a way of honing in gently on whatever it was you thought you’d just concealed by gliding smoothly over it.
Then like as not, he’d hently sip in a wry observation that flattered you with the illusion it was a problem that you both shared, as equals.
Something that at the very least left you feeling better for it. Whether he’d managed to help you or not. At best it was something that helped you see around or beyond that particular stone in your shoe.
In essence, he was never a false friend. Never one for that peculiarly Irish vice of telling people what they want to hear. Like his curiosity, his interest in people was a sign of his intelligence. As a keen amateur genealogist he liked to say he was as interested in the history of any name, as he was in his own.
And he always made you feel like he was interested in your life as his. I knew him for quite some time before I saw that all the skill in that trick, was his alone.
The older he got, the more he looked like the president of small, illustrious European country. And it’s not my own observation that he could easily have won the public vote, had he ever had any truck with the nonsense of politics. Because he had in spades that peculiarly evasive elixir all politicians hunger for? The common touch.”
Paddy passed to his eternal reward at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore and burial was to Clonminch Cemetery following Solemn Requiem Mass in the Church of the Assumption.
To his wife Ethna, daughters Rosemary, Ella, Martina and Majella, their partners Dermot and Orla, grandchildren Sorcha, Liath, Deirdre and Elliot, sister Jenny, sister in law Dympna, nieces, nephews, relatives, neighbours and friends the deepest sympathy is extended.
May he rest in peace.