February 27, 2008
The Late Jim English
In terms of contribution to the G.A.A. both on and off the playing fields, and in two counties, few can equal the contribution of the late Jim English, whose sudden passing on Saturday last at his home cast a deep gloom over the entire south-east and beyond.
Jim took suddenly ill at his home in Seskinryan, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, on Saturday, and died in the loving care of his wife, Maggie, and beloved family.
Many teams have emerged with glorious success at provincial and national level, but few sides won the hearts of the public across the country like the Wexford Senior hurlers of the mid-1950s.
Jim English was part of that great era of Wexford hurling, having famously captained the 1956 All-lreland winning side over Cork in a final that drew an attendance of over 84,000 people - a record that stands to this date.
A native of Rathnure, Jim was a substitute on the 1951 All-lreland losing side, while he was also a stalwart wing-back on the 1954 team which lost to Cork.
Always described as small in stature but big in heart, Jim did not end his career with his All-lreland victories of '55 and '56, but went on to help his beloved Model county to further glory against Tipperary in 1960.
As news of Jim's sudden passing became known throughout his native county, Wexford, and adopted county, Carlow, the glorious era of Wexford hurling was reminisced upon once again.
His contribution to Carlow G.A.A. was not forgotten on Barrowside, where he had won wide admiration for his involvement in the G.A.A. in the county since arriving to live in Bagenalstown around 1960, where he worked in Keenan's as foreman until the company's closure.
Born in 1932, Jim - who made an outstanding debut as a fair-haired young Minor - was the toast of Wexford and Leinster in 1954 for his brilliant display against Christy Ring in the All-lreland final of that
year. So magnificently did the lad from Rathnure prove his worth that he was an automatic choice for the Ireland team, but an attack of 'flu prevented him from taking his place.
He was first chosen for the Senior side back in 1951, being a substitute on the county tearn which reached the All-lreland final, losing to Tipperary. Jim emerged as a player renowned for his sure striking, sense of positional play and boundless energy, and despite his small frame he was constantly seen emerging with the ball through a forest of players as he set Croke Park alight with the quality of his hurling.
Only 5'9" and 11 and a half stone in weight, Jim's greatest moment arrived in 1956 when he captained the county to that historic All-lreland success over Cork, having won his first medal in the previous year against Galway.
At the time it was said that 'every inch and ounce of
him is a hurler'.
It was an era when Wexford set the hurling world alight, with Rathnure's fondness for the game paying big dividends, as the Model county emerged as a force and on the threshold of greatness.
One of the longest-serving players of that era, Jim won National League and Oireachtas Senior hurling titles with the county, while he also helped his native Rathnure to championship success, chipping in with a football victory in 1952.
Meanwhile, Jim moved on to live and work in Bagenalstown in Carlow, but even in exile he never lost interest in Rathnure and the fortunes of his beloved Wexford.
At the same time, he became involved with the Erin's Own club in Bagenalstown. On his arrival in the town he first became Chairman of Muinebheag Juvenile club going on to serve as Chairman of both
Erin's.Own adult hurling club and St. Andrew's football club. Up to his death he was Vice-President of the Erin's Own club.
Ironically, Jim finished his playing career when lining out in Senior club hurling for Erin's Own.
While he may have hung up his boots after what was a long and distinguished career both at club and inter-county level, Jim then became immersed in the official side of the G.A.A. on Barrowside.
He served for many years as one of Carlow's Leinster Council delegates. In 1992 he became Chairman of Carlow County Board, going on to serve for nine years, before retiring. He was then appointed as County Development Officer, while at the time of his
death he was President of Carlow G.A.A.
At the end of his playing career he became heavily involved with Carlow Senior hurling as a coach and mentor, giving total commitment to th.e G.A.A. in the county from 1960 up to the hours before his sudden and shock departure.
A great family man, Jim married his wife Maggie in 1958, and they would have been 50 years married this July. His sudden death came as a great shock to his wife, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and extended family.
Described by everyone who knew him as a quiet, assuming gentleman, Jim's contribution to life in both Wexford and Carlow will never be forgotten.
Jim is survived by his wife Maggie, sons Tom, James, Pat and Colm, daughters Mary (Shannon), Noleen (Hayden) and Olive (Buckley), brothers, John and Joe, sisters, Maggie and Maureen, grandchildren, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law,
sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.
Courtesy of the Wexford People
27 February 2008
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