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25 Sept 2022

Tommy Fingers Gallagher remembered as a great character with a quiet generosity

Mourners heard of his love for life, the outdoors and most of all, family

Tommy Fingers Gallagher remembered a great character with a quiet generosity

Tommy Fingers Gallagher's remains leaving his home

The community of Ballyshannon gathered to bid a sad but fond farewell to one of its most loved citizens, Tommy Fingers Gallagher.

Tommy, or ‘Fingers’ as he was affectionately known, died peacefully at home on Tuesday surrounded by his loving family. 

Funeral Mass took place in St Patrick’s Church, Ballyshannon on Thursday morning, followed by burial in the Abbey Cemetery.

At the beginning of Mass, symbols of Tommy’s life were brought to the altar. They included a picture of Tommy, a family picture, a bridle and a book of Robbie Burns’ poetry.

Rev Cathal O’Fearraí expressed sympathy on behalf of the community to Tommy’s wife Claire, his children James, Valentine, Shirley, William, Thomas, Mary and Timmy; to his 13 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren; his sisters Margaret, Jeanne and Anna; nieces and nephew; the extended Gallagher family and a wide circle of friends in Ballyshannon and further afield. 

Describing the late Tommy as ‘one of the elders of Ballyshannon,' the celebrant told mourners in the church and watching via the parish webcam: “When we encounter the death of a loved one it is really about celebrating life, and today we celebrate the life of Tommy Gallagher."

Those gathered were reminded that Tommy was born in Bishop Street to Maggie Jane Lawne and James Gallagher. 

“He went to school over in the Rock, to the De La Salle Brothers,” said the priest “And then he spent really all his life working to do with very much the outdoor life, which he had a great fondness and great love for, working on farm, working with animals, being very close to nature. 

“The bridle here conveyed to us his great love of horses, of greyhounds which he bred, of cattle, and as a family they very often went selling cattle all over the place, maybe to as far away as Scotland. The outdoor life was his life.”

Fr O’Fearraí went on to describe Tommy as a man who was very much a part of the community of Ballyshannon. 

“A real character is the best way to describe him,” said the celebrant.

“If you went up there to the top of the town in years past, round Shannon’s Corner, you’d probably meet Tommy. Indeed, he was a person who loved to meet people, who loved to chat, and of course, when you met Tommy there was always a story, a story he’d have to tell because he knew a lot about life  and about Ballyshannon itself.

“He was a man who enjoyed life, he had that kind of glow of happiness about him. He was full of life and enjoyed life. And not only on the farm or looking after his animals, or out shooting rabbits, or fishing during the summer out on the estuary with his sons; he himself was a man who was very much a people's person.

“But in and through all that, it was his wife and his family that were central to his life. He worked hard and provided the very best for them.”

The priest told mourners that Tommy had been a kind and generous man. 

“He loved when he had the good things of life, to share them with those who had not, and to do that in a very quiet and unobtrusive way,” said the priest. 

“Tommy was a man well known for visiting the sick in hospital or in their homes. 

“You would often see him at the back of the church here at funerals. Indeed he attended funerals all over the countryside.”

Mourners heard how Tommy also loved poetry and loved telling stories.

“And,” continued the priest, “He was  a man who could sing a few songs whenever he was in company. 

“He had good interest in politics and a great interest in what was happening in life. 

“And for many of you here his wife, children, great grandchildren, friends and neighbours, you will have many memories and great stories indeed that you can recall about Tommy because he was a man who was life-giving to his wife and family, and to so many others. 

Before Tommy’s remains left the church for his final journey to the Abbey Cemetery, the priest thanked the Kilbarron Choir for the beautiful and fitting music, and all those who had participated in the service.

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