TOM LAVERY – the Herbertstown man who gave half a century of service to Gaelic games
Five day days after his beloved Limerick won the All-Ireland senior hurling title, Tom Lavery said farewell to this world. A native of Herbertstown, Tom arrived in Dublin in 1952 and gave over 50 years of service to the GAA in the capital. Initially he played for Treaty Gaels, an all-Limerick team in the capital but in 1956 he joined St. Ita’s of Portrane where he worked as a psychiatric nurse. He won a junior hurling championship with St. Ita’s in 1959, and from 1956 to 1973 he served the club in numerous roles including Chairman, Secretary and delegate to the Dublin Junior Hurling Board. He also helped form the first camogie team in St. Ita’s in 1961.
Club Limerick Dublin Chair, Paul Stapleton paid this tribute. “Tom was one of our most loyal and longest serving members and made a great contribution to our Club and to the promotion of Limerick in Dublin. He also gave great service to the GAA in Dublin, but his first loyalty was to his home county. Tom was undoubtedly a great GAA man and a great Limerick man but more importantly he was a true gentleman, and a great friend to all who knew him. He will be greatly missed by all especially his dear family.”
In 1973, he moved to Na Fianna and in his capacity as a Croke Park steward, he witnessed Limerick’s All-Ireland triumph over Kilkenny in that year’s final. His duties at GAA HQ spanned four decades, 1964 to 1990, being part of a loyal crew that gave of their time on match days. Like so many more, he was present in 2018 to savour the moment that Limerick’s rise to the top began.
Tom will be remembered by many in Dublin for over 40 years of service to the Junior Hurling Board which ran one of the biggest competitions programme in the country. He soldiered with many great friends on that team including his Na Fianna clubmates Con Ryan (Tipperary) and John Leonard (Galway). He was also a founding member of Coiste na Sean Gael in Dublin – a body that honoured
club men and women who devoted decades of voluntary service to Gaelic games in the county.
Tom, his wife Una (from Blessington) and children Gabriel, Declan, Fiona and Tom moved to beautiful Ashford in Co. Wicklow some years ago but he still made the journey to Dublin for meetings of the Limerick GAA Supporters Club and latterly Club Limerick Dublin. He never missed a function or event. In more recent years, Tom lived in Our Lady’s Island in Wexford.
Ten years ago in 2011, Tom and a large entourage of family members were heading on their annual pilgrimage to the Mecca of National Hunt racing in Cheltenham. As they waited in Dublin Airport to board the plane, Tom’s mobile rang. On the line was Paul Stapleton of Oola, Chair of Club Limerick Dublin who informed the Herbertstown man that he had been chosen as the Limerick Person of the Year in Dublin for 2011.
It was a deserved reward for a great Limerick man who never forgot his roots. Concluding his acceptance speech that night, he quoted a few lines of a Limerick poem.
“I think of all the happy times, we spent here long ago, we played our games and dreamt our dreams as life ordained it so.
I call to mind my youthful days before I chanced to roam, from the green fields of my native sod and my County Limerick home”.
Tom Lavery (2nd from left) is conferred with the Limerick Person of the Year Dublin Award in 2011 by Club Limerick Dublin Chair Paul Stapleton in the presence of Liam Lenihan (left) then Limerick County Board Chair and current Munster Council Chair and 2010 Limerick Person of the Year Dublin Award recipient John Keating from Ardpatrick.