November 10, 2006
The late James Corless
James Aloysius 'Weeshie' Corless of Kinvara, had a high profile career in hurling both in Ireland and in Chicago, and was a highly respected businessman.
Hurling people knew him as 'Weeshie', a derivation of his second Christian name. To his neighbours in Chicago, he was Al. At work, some people called him James A. At a reception in The White House, when they got his first name mixed up, there was no confusion about who was being addressed.
Second youngest of the thirteen children of Cecilia and Michael Corless of The Square, Kinvara, he developed a love of hurling and its skills while playing with his brother Colm, one of the great hurlers of their generation. It was during his student years at Blackrock College, Dublin that his hurling prowess came to prominence, and he won the Leinster Schools Senior Hurling Championship with Blackrock College.
At club level, he played hurling with Kinvara and Ballindereen and, 1949, won the County Senior hurling Championship with Ardrahan. He played for Galway and for Connacht in the Interprovincial Railway Cup series.
His early years were spent in the family business in Kinvara, gaining experience in farming, running the licensed premises and as undertaker. After World War II, he took up a sideline, selling insurance, and his success allowed him to change over from cycling the countryside to owning one of the few cars on the roads in the area at the time.
In 1950, like so many young Irish people at the time, he emigrated to the USA, hopeful of building a new and better life. He first went to Pennsylvania to work with an uncle who owned a coal yard and undertaking business. After a few years, he moved to Chicago.
While in Chicago, he was active in GAA activities. He played hurling with the Harry Boland Hurling Club and progressed to club administrator, becoming Honourary Treasurer. He was instrumental in Harry Boland Hurling Club's sponsorship of Irish County hurlers to play in the North American competitions. As was the custom, these hurlers were accommodated in homes such as his during their stay in Chicago. In the mid-1960s, one of the two Kilkenny hurlers staying with him was Eddie Keher.
His son, Dr. Kevin Corless, was to recall a follow-up to Eddie Keher's visit. "Some fifteen years later, dad and I were at the All-Ireland hurling final in which Eddie Keher and Kilkenny defeated Galway. After the match, we were standing by the steps leading up to the presentation box in Hogan Stand, when Eddie Keher walked by. Dad shouted out: "Congratulations from the Harry Boland Hurling Club in Chicago". Immediately, Eddie said" "How're you Weeshie!".
It was after he had moved to Pennsylvania to Chicago that Weeshie was joined by his sweetheart, Bridget (Bridie) Kelly of Ballindereen, and they were soon married. They established roots in Chicago. In the early 1960s, their children, Kevin and Una, were born. For 20 years, he worked in Chicago, progressing to a management position in his company. In 1973, he realised the emigrants dream to return home to the old country. His brother Michael, who owned the family business, had passed away, and he took over.
He changed the way business was done in the pub and as undertaker, and was proud of these innovations. He was especially meticulous in the planning and conduct of a funeral.
James Corless became an active member of Kinvara GAA Club. The passing of his wife Bridie was traumatic for him and their children Kevin and Una. He closed the pub. He immersed himself in his other social activity - namely, playing 25.
He met and fell in love with Mairead Tierney. Happiness returned to his face for the joy she brought back into his life. He was rejuvenated. They married and lived in their beautiful home, Corrig Lodge, surrounded by lovely gardens beside the waters of Kinvara Bay.
In a tribute delivered during the Concelebrated Requiem Mass in St Joseph's Church, Kinvara, his son, Dr. Kevin referred to his father's mother who had "nurtured dad's faith and special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Dad would often tell me that it was his faith, hard work and a strong family that got him through life", he said.
He recalled: "Dad had a knack of subtly getting Una and me to never accept our work as just good enough, but to make sure it was always the best. No matter what we did through the years, he would ask if we had done our best, regardless of the outcome. He taught us the prayers we would all say as a family; the same ones Theresa and I say with our family at night.
"After prayers", Dr Kevin continued "it was storytime, but not just any stories. There were stories of life in Kinvara and hurling stories. The only thing dad loved more than hurling itself, was hurling with his brother Colm. He took pride in his family and the achievements of all his brothers and sisters in their vocations in both religious and lay life", he said.
Very Rev. Frank Larkin P.P Kinvara, was Chief Celebrant at the Concelebrated Requiem Mass in St. Joseph's Church, assisted by Very Rev. John O'Reilly O.P., Very Rev. Martin Noone (Dublin), Very Rev. John Gilligan (Dublin), Rev. Dennis Gavin (Blackrock College, Dublin), Rev. Michael Donoughe, Columban Order, Very Rev. Joseph Kelly, Former P.P Ardrahan, and Rev. Ned Casey SMA CC, Kinvara.
"we celebrate his life today", Very Rev. Frank Larkin P.P., said in the homily. "He came from a family that lived by high standards. He was raised that way and brought up his family by those standards. His faith was strong and his presence in this church was directed towards the Lord. He came here until recently.
"He died on the 17th anniversary of his wedding", continued Fr. Larkin, "and many of the hymns sung today at his funeral are the ones that were sung at his wedding. He had great appreciation of nature and from his garden brought flowers for the decoration of the church. Faith permeated his actions and his life said all that was to be said about him. He lived into mature years and his Requiem Mass is a celebration of his joys, fulfilment and assimilation of Christ in his living", he said.
Galway Cathedral Choir, of which Mairead Corless is a soprano member, sang hymns during Requiem Mass. Cathedral organist Ray O'Donnell played the organ. Breda and Fiona Corless were the soloists.
The Readings were read by Una (Wilson), daughter, and Aidan Corless, Fiona, Bridget, Kathleen and Violet. The Gifts presented were hurley (Conor), newspaper (Emma), memento of deceased's visit to The White House (Maeve), deceased's mother's Rosary Beads (Mara) and bread and wine (Colm, Alphonsus, Mairead and Theresa).
The Cathedral Choir sang 'Salve Regina' at the removal of the remains. hurling club colours draped the coffin and the funeral was attended by a very large cortege on both days. The burial took place at Mount Cross Cemetery.
James Aloysius 'Weeshie' Corless is survived by his wife Mairead; by his son Kevin; by his daughter Una; by his brothers Colm and Alphonsus; by his son-in-law Dan; by his daughter-in-law Theresa; by the members of his extended family, by other relatives and many friends.
Courtesy of The Connacht Tribune
10 November 2006
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