O’Rahillys GAA club of Corby and its players paid its respects to the club’s president and former chairman Bernard ‘Benny’ McGovern, who passed away on 4 May, with a minute’s silence. He was 82.
On 19 May, the club played its first game since Benny’s passing and its players were joined by opponents Sons of Erin for the silence, prior to the sides’ Division 3 game in Northampton.
From Blacklion, Co Cavan, Benny moved to Corby in the late 1950s, after initially settling in Glasgow, and it was in Corby that his love for GAA was cultivated.
He served O’Rahillys in a number of different roles after its formation in 1975, including as the club’s county board delegate and in that capacity regularly attended Warwickshire board meetings.
One of the original founders of the Corby Irish Centre in 1974, Benny was a trustee for over 25 years.
Benny worked in the Stewarts and Lloyds’ Steel Works in Corby, Northamptonshire, and Phoenix Paving in Kettering, for many years.
He met and married Theresa Melvin in Glasgow and they went on to have seven children – John, Theresa, Brendan, Vincent, Katie, Eileen and Kevin. Benny had 20 children and ten great grandchildren.
John, Brendan, Vincent and Kevin all played for O’Rahillys.
“He was one of the kingpins of the Irish community in Corby,” Benny’s son Brendan told the Irish World.
“He hardly ever missed an All-Ireland final; he was there [Croke Park] that often he should have got a game. He went all over the place for Gaelic, he’d go to Leeds or London.
“And he was always up for going to Ireland with O’Rahillys to play Gaelic matches in various counties, and then the club in Ireland would come back to Corby the following year.”
O’Rahillys treasurer and Warwickshire County Board President, Aidan Flynn, said: “We will miss him very much – he was a great character.
“He was involved with both O’Rahillys and the Corby Irish Centre from day one – and made a huge contribution to both.
“He was very enthusiastic and a great man to turn out for any fixture. We used to travel all over the country to football matches – London, Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry.”
Benny’s late wife, Tess, was previously treasurer of the club for many years, and whenever a team came over from Ireland Benny and Tess would do the buffet “and make everyone feel welcome”.
Aidan, also a former chairman of O’Rahillys, added: “They were involved in everything Irish around Corby.
“Three of Benny’s grandsons now play for the club, so the McGovern family is still well represented.”
O’Rahillys secretary Adrian Flynn, said: “Benny is a great loss to the family, O’Rahillys GAA club and the Irish community in Corby.
“He had a lot of roles with the GAA club and was someone who was just always there. Benny was a big supporter of the club and would be out there every weekend.
“He was always at GAA games and was very well-known in GAA circles in Warwickshire. He was proud Cavan man.”
Announcing Benny’s passing, the club paid tribute on its Facebook, posting: ‘Benny will be sadly missed by everyone at the club. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. R.I.P Benny’.”
It prompted a number of tributes with Benny described as a “lovely, sincere and brave man” and a “true Gael” who always made new members to club feel welcome.
Others called him a “gem of a man” and a “true gent” for whom the GAA “ran in his blood”.
The funeral arrangements for Benny McGovern are as follows. Thursday 30th May – leaving his house at 5:15pm walking to St Brendan’s Church for service at 5:30pm.
Friday 31st May – Funeral mass at 11am at St Brendan’s Church, Beanfield Avenue then onto Shire Lodge Cemetery. Afterwards at Corby Irish Centre for a celebration of Benny’s life.