July 05, 2011
Luke Morrissey, 30 Conway Park, Bagenalstown, who passed away suddenly at his home on Friday, June 24 was a GAA man through and through. A native of St Mullins - noted hurling country - Luke was firm in his belief that hurling was the greatest field game in the world.
Born into farming stock at Ballycrinegan, St Mullins, Luke was one of six Morrissey brothers who hurled with the south county club, forming the backbone of an outstanding club team of the late 1040s and 1950s.
Luke was one of a family of nine children of Mikey and Bridie (nee Bolger) Morrissey.
The Morrissey farmstead was just a couple of pucks of a hurling ball from the Kilkenny and Wexford borders so Luke was reared in an atmosphere of hurling ferment.
The brothers learned their hurling 'against the barn door'- the Rackards of Killane were famously educated in the game "at the dairy door."
Luke holds an unrivalled record at minor level in Carlow GAA. Playing with Kilcloney at U18 level - there was no minor club in St Mullins at the time - as a 14 year old, Luke won his first MHC medal playing in goal. That was in 1950 when the full back was his older brother Mick, who was to make such a name for himself with the Wexford hurlers.
In 1951 Luke was again in goal as the championship was retained while in the following two years he played midfield for Kilcloney. In 1953 he had the distinction of winning the county minor double with the south county club.
In all, Luke Morrissey won nine Carlow SHC medals with St Mullins between 1953 and 1968. He also played club hurling across the county boundary in Kilkenny with Danesfort and Paulstown. At that time he was working with the creamery in Goresbridge - later he worked with the local creamery in Graignamanagh.
Luke was also a talented footballer. In 1956 he was centre back on the Graignamanagh team which won the Kilkenny SFC title, beating Glenmore in a replay. The replay took place at Nowlan Park in early 1957. Ollie Walsh was corner back on that team - Ollie was Luke's hurling idol; he regarded the Thomastown custodian as a prince among goalkeepers.
In 1956, Luke won a Leinster JHC medal with Kilkenny but was omitted from the panel which subsequently won the All-Ireland.
He was educated at Good Counsel, New Ross, and was selected on the Leinster Colleges Interprovincial senior football team which beat Munster in the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park in 1953 by 0-11 to 0-9. The team lost the final by a point to Connacht with Luke at midfield.
In 1957, Luke played for Kilkenny in both the Leinster junior hurling and football championships on the one day. Kilkenny won both and Luke remembered the score in the football as 3-7 to 0-1.
Luke also played football and hurling with his native Carlow.
Mention was made earlier of Mick Morrissey, who passed away suddenly in 1993. Mick threw in his hurling lot with Wexford when he went to work in New Ross. He went on to play for Wexford, winning three All-Ireland SHC medals in 1955, '56 and '60 being an outstanding corner and wing back. He is the only Carlow man to win an All-Ireland senior hurling championship medal.
Mick emigrated to New York after the 1960 All-Ireland win, playing in a NHL final with New York. He was founder member of the Emerald Golf Society in New York in 1977 and wad made Life President. The Society continues to flourish and members made their annual golfing trip to Ireland to coincide with the hurling and football finals.
Moling, the youngest of the family, was part of Carlow's greatest hurling team, playing midfield and winning All-Ireland JHC 'Home' and Intermediate medals in 1960 and 1962 respectively. He won a number of Carlow SHC medals with St Mullins.
Luke's son Michael, a garda sergeant based in Enniscorthy, has the complete set of All Ireland medals. He won minor, U21, junior and senior titles with Kilkenny, captaining the junior side which won the 1986 All-Ireland by beating Limerick in Thurles. He also won a Dublin SHC medal with Cuala, while stationed in Kill-o-the-Grange.
There were other facets to Luke's life besides the GAA.
In 2007 he published a book of original poems and songs of Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford. The book was launched in Carlow's Dolmen Hotel by former Kilkenny All-Ireland hurling Johnny McGovern.
In contains some 500 poems, songs and photographs from the three counties.
Luke was also a talented ballroom dancer and had planned to go dancing on the night of his passing in Ardattin, where a minute's silence was observed in his memory.
He was also a fine singer and a lover of traditional music. Luke was a life-long member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association.
Luke always kept a neat garden and had been tending the garden in Conway Park when he died. Luke had undergone a heart procedure some time ago.
Remains reposed at Somers Funeral Home, Bagenalstown, throughout Sunday when many of Luke's friends came to pay their respects.
Removal took place on Monday morning to St Andrew's Parish Church, Bagenalstown, where they were received by Fr Paddy Byrne, CC, Fr Byrne paid tribute to the life and times of Luke in a homily. A St Mullins jersey draped the coffin.
The attendance at the funeral included former Wexford hurling stars John and Martin Quigley from Rathnure.
Members of St Mullins GAA flanked the hearse on Luke's final journey to the local cemetery of the Assumption, where Fr Byrne recited the final players at the graveside.
Luke is survived by his wife Helen, children Breda Murphy (Dunmanway, Co Cork), Claire Barron (Washington DC), Michael (Piercestown, Co Wexford), Pat (England), Sinead (England), Isobel Whelan (Clonee, Dublin), Ivan (Kilkenny) and Alan (Bennettsbridge) and by their mother Lizzie (nee Lawlor).
He is survived by his brothers Eddie (Castlekelly, Gowran), John (Closhgregg, Thomastown) and Moling (Mountmellick), sisters Breda Kealy (Knock, Ballymurphy) and Mary Fogarty (Foulkstown, Kilkenny). Luke was predeceased by his brothers Mick, Jimmy and Pat.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.
Courtesy of The Nationalist, 5th July 2011
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