Johnny pictured on the right with Timmy & Sean Hanrahan in The Kingdom Pub in Kilburn, London in 1995

Johnny pictured on the right with Timmy & Sean Hanrahan in The Kingdom Pub in Kilburn, London in 1995

The Late Johnny Collins R.I.P.

The local community should be rightfully proud of the wonderful send-off given to the remains of Johnny Collins on Friday and Saturday last.

When the news of Johnny’s passing broke, a meeting was called at which Johnny Hanrahan relayed that Johnny Collins wish was to be buried in his native soil with the photo of Athea 1968 winning team. A decision was made to fulfil his wish and immediately offers of help poured in. Kit Cahill was nominated to make arrangements in London and I was asked to make arrangements on this side.

A good Samaritan, formerly from Athea, and who wishes to remain anonymous, volunteered to pay all expenses to have the remains landed at Shannon – with one condition – namely that the funeral Mass be celebrated in Kilburn Church before the remains were flown home. Johnny’s funeral Mass took place in Kilburn Church at 12.15 as requested. Over 400 people attended this Mass. Funeral reception was held afterwards at Johnny’s local – The Kingdom Bar.

Food and drink were provided compliments of Tom Moran, Athea. Kit Cahill did Trojan work to get this organised assisted by Neilie Woulfe and others.

Johnny’s remains arrived in Shannon on Friday accompanied by Kit Cahill, Mike Hayes, Willie O’Kiely and his wife Bridie. Many Athea people travelled to Shannon to accompany the remains home to Athea. Johnny’s removal took place Friday night at 8pm from Kelly’s Funeral Home. A very uplifting funeral Mass took place on Saturday in Athea Parish Church – this was very well attended and made all the more beautiful by the participation of so many of his friends. The music and singing provided by Margaret Carroll was inspiring.

Burial took place in Holy Cross Cemetery in our family plot. This was followed by a selection of music from Athea Wren Boys and Johnny’s favourite song – Glen Swilly – sung by Johnny Mullane.

I wish to thank Kit Cahill and others, particularly the anonymous Athea sponsor in London, and all who travelled home for his burial. I wish to thank the Kilburn Clergy and Ryan’s Undertakers in London – all who travelled to Shannon, Kelly’s undertakers, the pallbearers, gravediggers including Tom Brosnan, James Hayes, Patsy Kiely, Eddie Sheehan and Donie O’Sullivan, Margaret Carroll who provided music and singing, Fr Bowen for the lovely liturgy ably assisted by Canon Kelly, the altar servers, readers, those who took up the offertory gifts and those who presented the symbols of his life.

The funeral reception was held in The Top of the Town. Food was provided by Betty and Johnny Cotter, Colleen Reidy, Matt Tierney and Kearney’s Home Bakery. All the above services and food were provided totally free of charge.

I would like to acknowledge the generosity of those from both sides of the Irish Sea who offered to donate should it be deemed necessary. We would have exceeded all expenses many times over – such is the generosity of both our communities.

I wish to thank Kathleen Mullane for keeping people updated on developments as they evolved.

I wish to thank my wife Rose, sons Michael and David and my daughter Maura. Without their co-operation none of this would be possible. I wish to thank each and every person who helped in any way. As a result of two communities working together, Johnny’s wish was fulfilled.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

 Michael Hayes