Eulogy for Kathleen Canty RIP - 03/11/2022

As the Chairperson of Bandon GAA club, it is an honour to say a few words about Kathleen on behalf of our club and the many other organisations she gave her time to.

Winston Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”.

If that is true, then Kathleen Canty has made a great life. She was the most giving person I have ever known. And judging from the nodding heads in front of me, it seems many of you agree.

Kathleen Canty was born on 8 March 1947, beloved daughter of late Daniel and Annie Canty, North Main Street, Bandon. Her father was a taxi driver and her mother was a nurse. As an only child growing up in Bandon town, Kathleen attended the Presentation Girls Primary and Secondary schools, which were a positive influence on her life, before she proceeded onto university to study primary school teaching.

Perhaps it is no surprise that Kathleen went with a caring profession as her mother was a midwife nurse in the local community. Kathleen loved helping her students achieve their potential and many have fond memories of Kathleen through her teaching years from 1966 until her retirement in 2009. As Vice Principal of St Columba's Girls National School with facility for Deaf children, Kathleen really understood the importance of continuous education. She achieved a Higher Diploma in Remedial Education at UCC which greatly benefited her young eager students. I know that Kathleen will be sadly missed by her former students and colleagues.

Kathleen was a true Bandonian and a wonderful ambassador for our town. She gave her time so selflessly to so many organisations including Bandon Parish Assembly, Brinny Pitch and Putt, Age Friendly Bandon, Bandon Hyperbaric Oxygen Centre, Bandon Meals on Wheels, Bandon PTA, Bandon Legion of Mary, Cumann Seanchais Na Banndan, Bandon Hill Walking Club, Bandon Toastmasters, Coolfadda Bridge Club, Cumann Fianna Fail and Bandon GAA club. Apologies if I missed any club or organisation but it was difficult to keep track on all of Kathleen’s busy activities. Recently I came across the 1984 Bandon GAA Centenary booklet. Inside the historical booklet, Kathleen Canty was listed as member of Adult Club Executive committee, Pavilion committee, Badminton committee, Ladies committee and the Fundraising committee, all within one club. I often wonder where did she have the spare time.

Long before there was any emphasis on women’s participation in politics, Kathleen led the way building a better community in Bandon. Kathleen was an elected Fianna Fail member of Bandon Town Commissioners for 20 years from 1979 to 1999, where she served twice as Chairperson, representing our town with distinction. Very often she was the only female voice in the room. As an elected representative she worked tirelessly for her community.

Kathleen loved to travel, meeting and talking to people. I believe she inherited this trait from her father Dan who ran the local taxi business. Kathleen had no hesitancy hopping into her car and driving all over the country on day trips or holidays with her many friends. Traveling abroad was not an issue, frequent trips were taken and stories told.

Kathleen was incredibly proud of her beloved Bandon GAA club and the GAA Pavilion that was opened in December 1978. As Pavilion secretary for many of those years, she diligently managed the hall bookings, the upkeep and the utility bills. Kathleen’s service to our club and especially to Thursday night Bingo over 40 years is legendary throughout West Cork. She kept us all on our toes and ensured that her high standards were always maintained. 

Two months ago in early Sept, Bandon GAA club were playing Senior Football in Ballinacarriga. As usual Kathleen had arrived extra early to get her parking space. As the Bandon players were warming up on the pitch, Kathleen was doing laps around the pitch on the pedestrian walkway. Every time she passed the Bandon dugout, she stopped to give our Club Secretary, Colman O’Mahony, and myself instructions, making sure that we were duly prepared for the championship match.

Kathleen greatly admired Brigadier Commandant Charlie Hurley, from the War of Independence, who the Bandon GAA grounds are named after. One of my favourite memories of Kathleen is when Bandon GAA club won the unique county double in October 2016. During the after celebrations in the GAA Pavilion, Kathleen waited patiently for her opportunity, took the microphone on the Main Stage in front of a packed hall and proudly sung for young and old the “Ballad of Charlie Hurley”. For many it was the first time to hear that ballad.

Over the past few days, much has been said and written about Kathleen. Some of the same words have come up time and time again. When people speak of Kathleen they highlight her kindness, her empathy and her loyalty. Throughout her life Kathleen clearly demonstrated kindness and empathy in her professional life as a teacher and in the wider local community. One of the reasons, Kathleen had a wide circle of friends was because of the kindness and empathy she showed over many years. In recent times, as Kathleen’s health deteriorated, many of her friends had the opportunity to return that kindness to her and support her through her illness.

In closing, I would like to share this some words from the Ballad of Charlie Hurley to remember our Kathleen

“For you died as the bright dawn of freedom was breaking

Like Brian of old when Clontarf was just won

But old Ireland with pride and in prayer will remember 

Your name will be sung till the last setting sun.”

The world is a sadder place without Kathleen in our lives. But Kathleen touched each and every one of us and has left us with memories we will cherish forever.

May God bless Kathleen Canty, and may she rest in eternal peace.

Ar dheis dé go raibh a h-anam

Eulogy by Ian Doyle, Chairperson Bandon GAA Club, at Kathleen Canty's Funeral Mass at St. Patrick's Church, Bandon, on Wed 02 Nov 2022