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Personal tribute to Don McGreevy

9 Nov 2017
Personal tribute to Don McGreevy

It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Don McGreevy from his son Sean this morning. Our thoughts are with Sean, sisters Joanne and Donna and the family circle at this sad time.

Don was a much-loved character within the cycling fraternity. He was a commissaire and a member of the Ulster Cycle Promotions club which promoted the Tour of Ulster. He was a familiar face long after retiring from his commissaire duties, supporting his son Sean at the races.

I first met Don back in 1986 after the final stage of the Tour of Ulster which was a circuit race in Belfast City Centre. He was there with his wife Ann and young Sean and got talking with my parents. During the race he and his wife were cheering me on. Sadly, Ann passed away after an illness while Sean and the family were in their teenage years.

Despite the task of rearing a family himself and working Don found time to keep Sean involved in cycling. He also took an active role after completing a commissaire course. He was active for over 15 years.

Don and my wife Bronagh became great friends and shared many laughs together while watching races. Sometimes Don would take Bronagh in the car around the big loop races. At the Tour of the Sperrin’s one-year Don was going to key points of the route to follow Seans progress and be there if needed. The bunch passed, and they were satisfied all was well so decided to have tea and buns. Little did they know that Sean and I were dropped, we had passed the layby but didn’t see them because it was in a dip. Don was in the bad books with Sean that day but him and Bronagh laughed about it many times.

Sean managed a clothing business in Belfast and kept Don up to date with all the ‘labelled’ gear. Bronagh used to take his photos and put them on the website and say” Don is on the cat walk and today is modelling …….” There were many hearty laughs, he was always up for the fun. When he decided to call time on his commissaire career he would lie low before the events started with Bronagh incase he was asked to step in to the ‘comm’ role at short notice which put him under pressure, he was so accommodating, give help where ever he could. Eventually he just said, “I’m doing no more”.

I witnessed Dons proudest moments when Sean won the inaugural Jimmy Trainor memorial trophy for the Tour of the Mournes in 2004. Jimmy was a close friend of Dons and they worked together for years on the Tour of Ulster. Another big day for Don was in 2005 when Sean finished his first Ras Tailtean in Phoenix Park, Dublin. He didn’t run away from the camera those days but asking Bronagh to take photos and was as proud as a peacock.

Bronagh had many conversations with Don but any time they met the conversation always included Sean. There would be laughs like

“he didn’t do well and there will be no speaky speaky going home in the car” followed by great laughs. Sean was oblivious to it all. Maybe if Sean did well, Don would say “he will be all chat the day” and I will get in to the hall for tea and buns.

Sean was Dons everything, he was devoted to him. Bronagh and I would tell him he was really good to Sean and he would say sometimes “poor wee Sean was left without his mummy and I try to make it up to him”. He also said many many times “Sean is very good to me, he phones me every day, does every thing for me and I love going to the races with him”.

Don was a gentleman in every sense of the word, he was devoted to his family and kept his wife’s memory alive by speaking about her a lot to Bronagh. I know Sean will miss his father very much and I hope all his cycling friends will help him through this very difficult time.

We have lost a very good friend but have loads of colourful memories.

The funeral will take place on Saturday at 10am Requiem Mass in St Michaels Church, Finaghy Road North, Belfast. Internment afterwards in Castlewellan area.

Brendan Kirk

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