Billy Horan, obituary
Tributes have poured in from near and far – and from all facets of life – following the death last week of retired journalist and teacher Billy Horan, a man who recorded so much news and history for his own good. -loved Ballinrobe for the past 70 years.
Billy Horan, who was also the Connacht Tribune’s longtime local correspondent for his home region, died suddenly – a month after his 89th birthday – at Mayo University Hospital on Tuesday last week, surrounded by his family magnetic.
Ballinrobe GAA Club described Billy as ‘much loved within the community’ and a man who will be greatly missed.
Ballinrobe Racecourse, another organization to which Billy has given dedicated service for more than 50 years, formed honor guards at funeral ceremonies in Ballinrobe on Thursday and Friday.
Billy Horan was born in Partry and was the eldest of six children. He was educated at St Jarlath’s College, Tuam and UCG (now NUIG) and later completed an H Dip.
After teaching briefly in Ballygar, he spent the rest of his career at Ballinrobe – first at CBS from the early 1950s, then at the Community School when it opened in 1990.
While teaching at CBS he promoted Gaelic football and was involved in coaching teams in the Colleran Cup and Flanagan Cup competitions.
English, history and Latin were his subjects, and he engendered a love of writing and speaking among his students, some of whom became reporters and many more became teachers.
Billy’s love for Gaelic football started at an early age and his father (Joe) won an All-Ireland junior football medal with Mayo.
He was involved with the Ballinrobe GAA Club from the start of his time at Ballinrobe.
He played cornerback for Ballinrobe in the South Mayo Junior Championship. From an early age, he was also involved in coaching teams.
Throughout his involvement with the club he has served as President, Secretary, County Council Delegate, South Council Delegate, Public Relations Officer (a position he held for many decades) and Scór Officer.
He was heavily involved with the committee that bought and developed Flanagan Park in the early 1960s. He was also involved in fundraising for the Ballinrobe GAA club through the weekly bingo in Old Town Hall and various other initiatives.
Billy was president of the club and only resigned as president at its annual general meeting last November.
Last month, the club marked its retirement with a special presentation at the launch of our five-year strategic development plan.
Billy served as Chairman of the Board of South Mayo GAA and was PRO of the Board of South Mayo GAA for several decades. He was also president of Mayo GAA.
Billy was deeply involved in Scór and had a great passion for Scór – at divisional, departmental and provincial levels.
Ballinrobe was very strong at Scór in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in dancing and Question Time, and in fact competed successfully in Question Time for Ballinrobe.
Billy was a firm believer in the preservation of Gaelic traditions, although as a Latin scholar and noted teacher he had broad interests.
He was also the manager of the Mayo Junior team for a time and also served as a referee for a time.
Billy has been recognized by Mayo GAA / The Green Above the Red Trust and by GAA nationally with a President’s Award for his dedication to GAA.
He began writing the Ballinrobe Notes for Mayo News in 1952. He was to expand his memoir over the years and was the longest-serving contributor to the Connacht Tribune, a role he fulfilled until the week of his death .
Long before game reporting became a staple of local newspapers, Billy was an avid game columnist.
While his main interest was the GAA, he was very good at promoting and reporting on other sports in the locality.
Ultimately, the people of Ballinrobe and South Mayo meant a lot to him and he covered all sorts of sporting, cultural and community events.
Last week on Monday, the day before his sad passing, he submitted his final scores for the Connacht Tribune, which appeared as usual in last week’s newspaper.
He loved music, especially country music, and was a radio enthusiast, listening to the radio and picking up game commentary, news reports and interviews from around the country via internet radio.
He loved local radio in Mayo and around the country and followed GAA where people he knew were very closely involved.
Billy watched football religiously, and until last weekend watched National Football League televised games with great interest.
He also enjoyed horse racing and was a member of the Ballinrobe Race Committee and delighted in the buzz of the racecourse on race day, meeting and conversing with trainers and jockeys.
He didn’t bet much, but on occasion, after seeing a horse that caught his eye in seven or eight races, he had a calculated flutter, often with spectacular success, though the bet might be small.
Billy was also involved with the old Ballinrobe Town Hall, the Ballinrobe Active Retirement Association, the Town Development Company and the campaign to build An Sportlann, now the Lakeside Sports and Fitness Center and its operation in its early years.
Billy enjoyed good health until the very end. His passing leaves sadness throughout the community as evidenced by messages received by his family since his passing from all elements of society, including his former students at Ballinrobe CBS and Ballinrobe Community School.
Predeceased by his beloved wife Ina in January 2021, brothers Aidan (New Jersey), Frank (Luton) and Con (Limerick), Billy will be sadly missed by his sons Michael (Dublin), Liam (Ballinrobe) and Maurice (Tralee) ; daughters Liz Bree (Westport) and Sara (Ballinrobe); son-in-law Paul, daughters-in-law Teresa, Noreen and Bríd; grandchildren, Dara (Westport and Boston), Patrick and Fiona (Westport), Sinead, Michelle and Emma (Dublin), Ina, Kimberley, Jean and Murray (Tralee), sisters, Maura Roche (Moate) and Carmel Biggins (Ballinrobe ), relatives, neighbors and circle of cherished friends.
His requiem mass was held at St Mary’s Church, Ballinrobe, with interment immediately afterwards at the New Cemetery.