Mick Bennett (1924-2010)
Tipperary Star, April 22, 2010
Mick Bennett of Rathordan, Cashel passed away on April 1 after a short illness following a car accident. He would have been 86 years of age on April 5, the day after he was buried.
Mick was a big man, who towered over most of us, and he had a personality to fill his huge frame. Tug-of-war was his game as a younger man, about which more later.
Mick, who was one of seven children, was born in Sleaveen, Clonakilty, where he farmed difficult land. There were a lot of hills and slopes on it and it made it unsuitable for tractor work. It was also beside the sea. At some stage he made a decision to sell and buy a replacement farm somewhere else. It could be inside Cork or in any county, he didn't mind.
He bid on a number of places but was unsuccessful. The place he eventually bought in Rathordan, on the Clonmel Road, he had bid for unsuccessfully two years previously. He eventually got it in 1981.
Mick was fifty-eight years of age at the time and it was a big decision to make at that stage in his life. However, because of his determination to leave, it didn't cause such a major wrench in his life.
The move involved not only himself but also his wife, Eileen (nee Coakley from Dunmanaway), and their five children, Mary, Ger, Eleanor, John and Therina, plus brother Finbarr. The oldest child, Anna, had died from leukemia in 1972. Mick and Eileen had married on November 25, 1963, the very day that President John F. Kennedy was buried. (Eileen passed away three years ago.)
Prior to coming to Cashel Mick had taken part in the sport of tug-a-war. Not for him the games of hurling and football but, from an early age, pulling the rope was part of his life. He was the perfect speciman of a man to anchor a tug-of-war team He continued in the sport until he was nearly fifty years of age. His son, Ger, remembers as a kid being bundled into a lorry to travel to some championship or tournament.
Mick obviously excelled in the sport and won four All-Irelands with Killbree in the 120 stone catagory between 1963-1966. There are eight members on a team and a game consists of three pulls. In order to win a team must pull the opposing side the distance of four meters.
On one occasion at a tournament in Tipperary Town Mick's team was defeated by a side that included many McCormacks of hurling fame from the Kickhams club. What was memorable about this contest was the length of time it took for one pull in the three-pull match, one and a quarter hours to pull the opposing side the equivalent of four metres!
Mick was well past his tug-of-war best by the time he came to live in Cashel. The farm he bought had been a stud farm and there was quite an amount of work converting it to a dairy spread. He was well received by the neighbours and soon established good relations with Jim Devitt and Dan Grogan, among others. Tom Horan, who came into the area in 1987 recalls being welcomed by Mick soon after arriving, a Cork man welcoming a Tipperary man to a part of Tipperary!
Sociable and Friendly
That kind of gesture was the essence of the man. Mick was a most sociable and friendly man and as helpful a neighbour you could wish to have down the road. He just loved meeting people and this desire took him to all kinds of meeting places, fairs, hurling and football matches, funerals, or just travelling around the country.
He had friends all over the country, not only Cork friends in Cork, but Tipperary friends in remote parts of Tipperary, Wexford friends, Waterford friends. Tom Horan recalls when he was canvassing for Michael Slattery for NFA office, Mick came along to Cork and other places to give them the lie of the land and the people to call on. He had contacts everywhere.
Mick was always a Cork man and a great supporter of Cork hurling and football. He was extremely well-informed on new players breaking on to the scene. His gospel was 'De Paper', which he bought daily and read from cover to cover. He always started at the back with the deaths, continued into sport and eventually got to the news.
He was an inveterate attender at hurling and football matches of all descriptions. It is estimated he attended four or five games a week during the summer time. A match couldn't be bad enough for him to attend! It wasn't only the game he enjoyed, surveying the skills on display with a trained eye, but the camaraderie and sociability of the occasion.
In his moving address at the funeral Mass in Rosegreen Church, Fr. Jim Purcell, spoke of Mick's love of travel and his legendary knowledge of places, far and wide: 'Mick has been described as the original 'Sat Nav' - - - he loved to travel, and only last weekend he made the regular pilgrimage to his roots, completing the journey by stopping off with Mary in Middleton. As said, he lived in his car, the Vento'.
Mick had strong religious beliefs and the practice of his religion was as important as eating his dinner. He may have been disturbed with the recent developments in the Church but they didn't weaken his faith one jot.
Mick made his mark on life, whether pulling the rope with his tug-of-war team, farming in Cork and Tipperary, raising his family, being a good neighbour and bringing joy and fellowship to all he met. It was a privilege to have known him.