He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song….
My beloved husband, Jim, passed away peacefully on Sunday June 23 2013. I am going to post here the eulogy our daughter, Anne, delivered at the funeral and then I will take a break from blogging for a while. Jim and I were a team and it’s hard to carry on with the best man down.
What can I say to you about
my lovely father, Jim Cogan?
He grew up in Cork, the son of an English
mother and Cork father, the second youngest of 4. Jim’s mother was a convert to Catholicism and
had all the zeal of a convert. The
family was a religious one. After
school, Jim entered the SMA order. They
had a church near his home in Cork. For
a while, Jim was happy in the order and he made many lifelong friends during
his time in Galway, Dromantine and UCC.
But religious life was not for him and he had the courage to leave 6
months before ordination. Jim had many
fond memories of his time with the SMA.
It was always part of who he was.
Jim got his first temporary
teaching job in Scoil Mhuire, Kanturk where he met Mary, the love of his life. That was his first step towards the Kerry
border. In the Summer of ’73, he saw an
ad. in the paper for a Science Teacher’s job in St. Michael’s, Listowel – a
place he couldn’t even find on the map.
He made his first trip here for his interview with Father Diarmuid
O’Suilleabáin. Those were different
times. The interview took place in the
principal’s house. Interview over, Jim
was told he had the job and Father O’Sullivan asked him to stay for tea which
he cooked for him himself. So began
Jim’s long association with Listowel.
Father O’Sullivan recognized the
counsellor in Jim and he retrained as a Guidance Counsellor. Subsequent principals & colleagues in St.
Michaels did everything they could to make life easier for Jim. In his time in school, Jim touched many
lives. Only Mary knew the enormous
effort it took on cold wet mornings to get himself to work, but with
characteristic determination, Jim pushed himself to give his best effort
always. It gave him enormous pleasure to
get an email from a past pupil and he loved to hear that a man he had helped
had done well and gone on to be happy in life.
Jim was hopeless at
remembering names. When he and Mary were
out walking, if she saw someone whose name he should know approaching, she
would say ‘Let me take your photograph with… announcing the name loudly and
clearly. All that photograph taking was
only a ruse. Jim became the most
photographed person in Listowel.
Jim was at the head of every
technology curve. He was one of the
first with a home computer, and an electronic organizer. He embraced the ebook which changed his
life. He inspired the rest of the family
towards technology which is a lasting and fruitful influence on us all. Mary, who is famous in our family for once
turning over a CD to play the other side, is now the unofficial Listowel blogger
thanks to Jim.
Jim was always fascinated by
new inventions and gadgets and he shared that passion with his late brother,
John. As soon as his disability began to
affect his everyday life, John stepped in to invent and adapt simple things to
help with everyday tasks.
As his disability increased,
so did his determination to find new technologies to help him overcome these
disabilities. Everyone who knew him was
familiar with his mastery of hands-free devices. He was an expert on voice-recognition
software and few things gave him more pleasure than the discovery of a new
piece of software that enabled him to do something for himself. A friend of ours tells a story of the day
that she and her young son visited our house while Jim was on his
computer. When they got home, Padraig,
aged four at the time, sat in front of his computer and issued the commands
‘Wake up’ ‘Mouse Up’ ‘Mouse Down’ and was so disappointed when his mouse
wouldn’t obey as Jim’s did.
My father was a ladies
man. Most of Jim’s best friends were
women. Apart from Mary, some other women
had a special place in his heart. What
would he have done without Joan, Helen, Breeda & Eileen? His advancing disabilities brought even more
ladies into his life. Jim had PA’s,
home-help, Cathy Corps and the twilight service, and the Community Care
team. These all enabled him to live at
home to the end. His final days were
spent in the Bons, Tralee where he was given exceptional care and attention by
all the friends he had made over a very long association with that
hospital. It gives us, his family, great
consolation that he was able to be at home with Mary for so long and his last
days were in familiar surroundings among friends.
Faced with battle after
battle in his 65 years of life, Jim Cogan’s quiet courage and resillience is an
inspiration to us all. Coming to
Listowel, and particularly Cherrytree Dr. was to be one of the better moves of
his life. But by far the best move he ever made was in marrying Mary Ahern from
Kanturk. He drew love and strength from
their relationship, and she was his very own Listowel Connection for over 40
years. I know that he would want me to thank her for absolutely everything.
In Listowel, he found himself
among a supportive community of neighbours, friends and colleagues. Throughout
his life Jim had a wonderful capacity for making and keeping friends. He was a
wonderful father and grandfather. He was
very proud of us and we are very proud of him. Thank you.
Among the many messages of condolence was this lovely one from Jim’s old friend, Bernard Lynch
“I am so sorry to hear the sad news of Jim’s passing. If Jim is not with God, then there is no God. Ever since I first met him in 1965 I found him to be one of the most transparently credible human beings I have ever known.
In Jim’s eyes the difference of social position, of intellect, of culture, which different people exhibit, and on which they so fantastically pin their pride, was so small as practically to vanish. For him, as I knew him, all that remained was the common fact that here we are, each of us pent into peculiar difficulties, with which we must struggle by using whatever fortitude and goodness we can summon up. He was more lovingly aware than most of the depths of worth that lay hidden in each person’s life.
To paraphrase Yeats
Rich memories, nothing but memories
But in the grave all, all, shall be renewed
The certainty that I shall see that man
Leaning or standing or walking
As in the first loveliness of his youth
And with the burning fervour of his youthful eyes
Has left me muttering like a fool….”