Full community turns out for the late Johnny Golden

Tom Carron While the descending darkness of a November evening provided a sombre setting for a sad occasion, the funeral of Johnny Golden on Sunday afternoon also displayed a well of love and respect for the man - an affection expressed by the huge turnout of mourners from all walks of life and from all parts of the country who came to mark Johnny's passing and to celebrate all the good he did in his life. His funeral was without doubt one of the largest seen in that area of Cavan or Leitrim as roads leading to Killegar Church of Ireland were thronged with people who came out to pay their final farewell to a man, who while not a native of the area, was a favoured adopted son. Johnny's funeral a month since his brutal and violent death was an occasion for the community to publicly express grief at his death and at the manner in which it occurred. A noted mechanic and worker with machinery all his adult life, Johnny was known for his love and interest in vintage tractors and vehicles. He was president of Cornafean Vintage Club and members of the club and from other vintage clubs across the region and from many parts of Ireland came to Killegar to pay a final farewell to someone who shared their passion. Johnny's remains were conveyed from Cavan General Hospital, the hearse accompanied by a long cortege of cars containing those who came to the hospital to say their final farewell. When it reached the junction leading from the Ballinamore road up to Killegar the coffin was transferred to an open trailer. Vintage club enthusiasts on vintage tractors followed the remains as they were transported aboard the open deck trailer drawn by Johnny's grey 1951 TVO. The driver of the tractor was Tommy Shannon with whom Johnny worked for many years in Tommy's machinery dismantling business. Leading piper, Sean Kelly, from Ballinagh led the funeral procession as it moved off up the narrow roads to Killegar over a mile away. At the church the remains were received by Rev. Alison Calvin and Dean Raymond Ferguson, Dean of Kilmore, who conducted the funeral service. After welcoming all present, Rev. Alison Calvin said it was with deep sadness that they met in the church in Killegar after a long and necessary delay to at last lay to rest the mortal remains of John Golden better known as Johnny Golden or simply as Gouldy. They all condemned the circumstances of his violent death and this display of man's inhumanity to man had left them reeling with disgust in this close knit community. The killing of a defenceless pensioner living on his own was particularly repugnant; a colourful life had been ended in such tragic circumstances, she said. Stating that they must now leave Johnny in the merciful hands of his maker, Rev. Calvin recalled that Johnny was born in 1937 and he never knew his parents. He spent his early years in a children's home in Wicklow and when he was a boy of 13 came to the late Violet Wilson as a home boy. He eventually came to live in Killegar and during that time served as sexton in the church in which they were assembled. He then moved to Nedd, Doogary, and lived there for the rest of his life, she said. “You, his friends and neighbours know best how Johnny lived his life. There wasn't a trace of bitterness or self pity in him. He spoke fondly of his time in the children's home; he always had a smile and a handshake for everybody. ‘Be gobs I should know you' he would say at a first meeting,†recalled Rev. Calvin. Speaking of Johnny's great passion for vintage tractors, she referred to his ability to give new life to a piece of scrap taken out of a ditch. She thanked the vintage club for assisting with the funeral arrangements, and expressed gratitude to all those who extended their hospitality and generosity to Johnny over the years whether it was a cup of tea here, a Christmas dinner there or even a bed for the night. “There is a tremendous warmth with which everybody speaks of him and the gestures of goodwill and support have been overwhelming. He was known and loved by many the length and breadth of the country. It speaks volumes to see so many here today from all over Ireland,†said Rev. Calvin. She extended her sympathy to the late Johnny Golden's friends and neighbours who would feel his loss most greatly and she thanked the staff of Cavan General Hospital who cared for Johnny in the last days of his life. Needless brutality had robbed Johnny of his life and now they must pray for the perpetrators that they may acknowledge their role and seek God's forgiveness, she said. Rev. Calvin, quoting the gospel of John, Chapter 14, spoke of the hope and promise of that reading. During the service Dean Ferguson prayed for all those responsible for the maintenance of law and order, particularly the Garda Siochana. Turtle Bunbury, the author of the book Vanishing Ireland, read an excerpt from it which colourfully described Johnny Golden and brought laughter and humour to this otherwise sad occasion. As the remains were being carried from the church accordionist, John Dinan, from, Glamnire, Co. Cork played a rendition of the song and air Goodbye Johnny Dear in tribute to Johnny Golden, a noted accordionist and traditional musician. The graveside burial service was conducted by Rev. Calvin and afterwards despite the cold people lingered on to talk fondly about the deceased.Speaking with The Anglo-Celt Tommy Shannon said the late Johnny Golden was a good, well-liked man. Recalling that he worked with him for many years, Tommy said they went to the Moynalty steam threshing for over 20 years and he would now miss him. Cllr. Maura Maguire Lynch described the late Mr. Golden as a lifelong friend of the family whom she knew all her life. “Sunday's funeral was a sad event but it was a fitting tribute to a humble little man,†she said. Cllr. Maguire Lynch paid tribute to the vintage clubs for the way they organised the funeral arrangements. • Meanwhile, a Garda spokesperson confirmed that they are awaiting instructions from the DPP on the Golden case. One man was arrested but released without charge. A file was sent to the DPP.

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