The late Seán Cassidy.

The late Seán Cassidy, Castlepollard

On Wednesday, September 14, Castlepollard lost one of its great characters when Seán Cassidy went to his eternal reward after a battle with illness.

Seán, who was 74, died peacefully in the loving care of his family and the matron and staff of the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar early on Wednesday morning. He had, for a number of years, been a resident of Portiuncula Nursing Home, Multyfarnham.

A son of the late Daniel (Dan) and Bridget Cassidy, Pakenhamhall Road, Castlepollard, Seán was born on May 22, 1948, the youngest of three sons. A proud son of ‘Pollard, he had an enjoyable life growing up in the town with his brothers Donie and Micheál, and his many friends.

Gifted with his hands, he could turn his hand to many trades, particularly as a mechanic. He was a member of the fire services in Castlepollard for many years, following in the footsteps of his father Dan, uncle Jack and alongside his brother Micheál, who was station officer in Castlepollard for many years.

Seán was also a lifelong member of the Fianna Fáil party, and a worthy and loyal foot soldier, particularly when it came to election time. His brother Donie was a member of Westmeath County Council and the Oireachtas for many years, serving as a senator and a TD.

An ardent Gael with Castlepollard Hurling Club, on and off the pitch, Seán played underage and senior hurling proudly for ‘The Town’. He won a Feis Cup hurling medal in 1971, and the following year he started at corner back in the Westmeath senior hurling championship final against St Brigid’s, in a teak-tough ‘Pollard full back line that also included Paddy McCabe and Mick Murphy. For Seán and for Castlepollard, there was no shame in ultimately losing out to a fine St Brigid’s side, who won their third consecutive title.

Seán married Minnie Connell, a native of Ross, County Meath, and they had four children: Danny (who sadly passed away in December 2020), John, Marie and Paul.

One of life’s characters, Seán was terrific company, and one who could regale a crowd with a great story. He was a lover of music, dances, bands and listening to the radio. He enjoyed a good sing-song, and when you’d hear him start into ‘If Those Lips Could Only Speak’ or ‘Gentle Mother’, you knew the evening was only starting.

In 2013, Seán went to live in Portiuncula Nursing Home, Multyfarnham. He immediately made a positive impact on the community at Portiuncula, and made many friends there. His many achievements there were recognised at a national level in 2019, when he received the Nursing Homes Ireland Resident Achievement Award. This is a prestigious national award made to only one nursing home resident per year out of around 20,000 residents in private and voluntary nursing homes. Seán was rightly proud of this achievement.

The citation for the award read: "Local man, Seán Cassidy, moved into Portiuncula Nursing Home, Multyfarnham, Westmeath in 2013. In his own words: ‘It saved my life coming here’. Physically and mentally, Seán thrived with the help of nursing home staff who he can’t praise enough."

Seán made his own community in the nursing home and he involved himself as much as possible – making and selling crafts, advocating for other residents, helping new residents adapt, and organising events and outings. He made a real success of life in the nursing home.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Seán faced it head-on with typical bravery, fortitude and resilience. In May of that year, the Sunday Independent published an article on Seán, in which his photo appeared on the front page with fellow resident, Fr Patrick Brady. The photo showed Seán working on his crafts. The nursing home remarked that Seán "was truly unique and a family member that you can be immensely proud of".

Seán, predeceased by his parents Dan and Bridget, wife Minnie, son Danny and granddaughter Rachel, is sadly missed by his sons John and Paul, daughter Marie, brothers Donie and Micheál, aunt Anne McCormack, grandchildren, daughters-in-law Geraldine and Karen, son-in-law Sean, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, cousins, relatives and a large circle of friends.

Seán’s removal to St Michael’s Church, Castlepollard took place on Thursday last, September 15, where he was received by Very Rev Fr Martin Carley (PP, Collinstown/Fore), deputising for Very Rev Fr Patrick Moore (PP, Castlepollard), who was on pilgrimage in Lourdes. Funeral Mass for the repose of Sean’s soul was celebrated by Very Rev Fr Oliver Skelly (PP, Coole) on Saturday last, September 17. Seán was laid to rest in St Michael’s Cemetery, Castlepollard.

The Funeral Mass was attended by Captain Ian Galloway, aide-de-camp to An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD; Very Rev Fr Phil Gaffney, administrator, Mullingar Parish, and members of Castlepollard Fire Services. The latter, along with members of Castlepollard Hurling Club and Fianna Fáil party activists in the Longford-Westmeath constituency, formed a guard of honour as the funeral cortège made its way to the cemetery.

Seán’s family has thanked the matron, staff and palliative care team at the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar for their care and sensitivity during Seán’s final illness. They have also extended their sincere gratitude to the management and staff of Portiuncula Nursing Home for the great care they gave Seán since 2013.