Mike O'Meara (Blakefield) (1924-2011)
The death took place on May 7, 2011 of Michael O'Meara, Blakefield, located in the townsland of Abbeyville, the parish of Lorrha. Born on January 15, 1924 he was the second oldest of a family of three, with a sister, Mary Jo, and a brother, Bill.
He went to Lorrha National School until he was 14 years of age. A bright pupil he never got a slap from the formidable Mr. Cronin. In later life he regretted he never got a chance to progress to secondary school. While still at school he became an avid reader of newspapers. He used get a penny a day to spend in Tommy O'Meara's shop in the village. Instead of buying the two slices of barm brack that was intended, he spent the penny on the daily 'Independent' and devoured the sports pages.
His passion for the daily read never left him and he consumed an amount of information on other sports as well as G.A.A. So great was his knowledge of information on sporting matters that he was given the name 'Hickey', after the famous G.A.A. correspondent in the 'Independent', John D. The dairy in his house was a storehouse for many old programs and newspapers. In later life, when there was a big expansion in the broadcasting and televising of sporting events, he was known to have a couple of radios and televisions on simultaneously as he followed the progress of numerous sporting events. His memory of sporting matters remained outstandingly good all his life and he was still able to to regale listeners with this knowledge during his later years in the nursing home at the Pike.
Having completed his education in Lorrha National School, he took up farming on the family farm and remained there all his life. He did mixed farming with a special interest in beet-growing.
Mick came on the Lorrha intermediate team in the early forties after playing minor for a couple of years. In one game played in 1943 or 1944 there were four Mick O'Mearas on the team and they had to be identified. Mick got the name 'Blakefield' and he was known by it ever after. He was on the team that won the county intermediate championship of 1946, when Lorrha defeated Moycarkey-Borris in the final, which wasn't played until the first Sunday of December in 1947. He went on to win two senior hurling titles in 1948 and 1956, losing out in the county finals, to Holycross and Thurles Sarsfields respectively. The club should have won another divisional title
after 1948 but failed to do so.
A very skillful hurler, he played at wing-forward, and in the corner on occasions. He was a very fit player and never smoked or drank. He delivered a good ball to the inside line and believed strongly in first-time, ground hurling. He was also a good free-taker.
He continued to play for a while after 1956 and was reluctant to retire from the game. He was a club selector in several grades for a good number of years and gave great service to the club. He was a county intermediate selector in 1952. He was with the Lorrha junior side of 1961 which won the North title and lost to Moyne-Templetuohy in the county decider. He was also a club selector in 1966 when Lorrha won the North senior title.
Mick umpired in ten North senior finals,6 with the late Hubie Hogan, as referee, in 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957 and 1958 and four when Sean O'Meara had the whistle, in 1968, 1974, 1979 and 1982. He acted as an umpire for a county senior hurling final in 1952 and also officiated in a county senior football final. He umpired, with the late Tom Duffy, Gerry Dillon and Jimmy Kennedy in an All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final between Galway and Cork, played at Birr, with victory going to the Rebels. He also had the honour of umpiring in an under-21 All-Ireland hurling final.
Mick also provided a training field in Blakefield from about 1960 until the club moved to Moatfield later in the decade.
Mick spent the last seven and a half years of his life in St. Kieran's Nursing Home, The Pike, Rathcabbin. He continued to live for hurling and to impart to his listeners a wealth of knowledge on Tipperary and Lorrha hurling from the 1940s up to the present.
His remains were escorted through the village to Lorrha Church by members of Lorrha G.A.A. Club on the evening of May 9. After the funeral Mass the following day he was buried in the adjoining cemetery, where the graveside oration was given by Paddy O'Meara.