The sun peeked out from behind the clouds on an otherwise bitter cold morning in Oakvale Woods, Stradbally, last Wednesday as Jillian Kennedy unveiled a bench in memory of her beloved husband, Paddy Byrne.
Acknowledging the special but sad day for the family, Jillian said her life had been exceptionally difficult since her wonderful husband had died in very tragic circumstances in a workplace accident in Windsor Motors in Galway, last August.
“Since then, life has been exceptionally difficult for me and my whole world has been utterly altered from that which Paddy and I had planned together.”
Jillian chose Oakvale Woods for Paddy’s memorial, as it was a place where they shared many happy memories together and had walked every day with their dog Barney, who died a year before Paddy.
Joined by her sisters Iris and Caroline, brother Mervyn and dad Bob and members of Paddy’s family including his brother Martin and his wife Agnes, and his sisters Nancy and Concepta and niece Amy, Jillian remembered fondly all the time they had spent together in Oakvale.
“We loved watching the buds come on the trees in springtime, the bluebells to appear in on some of the less walked routes in the woods, the wild strawberries to appear in the bushes in Summer and then the Autumn to fall with all its glorious colour. We loved this place and there could be no other location more fitting for a memorial to Paddy than Oakvale woods.”
Once Coillte gave approval for Jillian to donate the bench, she said there was only ever going to be Paul Moore to design it.
Jillian continued: “Everybody loved Paddy and he lit up a room when he came into it. His very presence cheered up the most dispirited soul. He loved nature and the animals and I think he would be very proud that he now has his own bench in Oakvale Woods. A unique bench for a unique person.
“I hope that all the many visitors who call to these woods every day will enjoy sitting on Paddy’s bench. Those who know him will be able to remember his kindness and fun times they had with him and those who don’t know him, maybe they’ll wonder who Paddy Byrne was and know by the fact that this bench is here, that he was loved very much.”
To finish, Jillian read the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken, which was also read at Paddy’s funeral.