AS TRIBUTES flowed in for Tommy Howe following his death last week, it was clear to see the high regard he was held in by many people.

Messages describing him as a “true gentleman” and a “great man” were read out by his family who described their father as “one in a million”.

The 86-year-old had lived a full life and a good Christian life with a great, positive attitude, according to his daughter, Paulene.

A dedicated husband and father, he had a passion for golf and bowls – the latter a sport in which he would represent Ireland in.

“He was a very hard worker and a very good father and provider for us. He worked very hard and gave us a great work ethic,” recalls Paulene.

“Anything he did, he did 110 per cent. There were no half measures with daddy. Anybody that needed anything, he was there, and he did more things for people, and the thing was he was so conscientious, we never would have known – he never told us anything that he did for people.”

Paulene talks of the close bond that Tommy had with her three children, Christopher, Lauren and Caoimhe, who she said told their grandfather more than they would tell their mother.

His work ethic and care for what he did could be seen in Tommy’s dedication to his job as a bus driver with Ulsterbus, and then in later years when he took on the tour pool and excursions.

Tommy would make sure everything was as well prepared as could be.

“He went and bought all the books he could buy on the history of Ireland, and on anywhere he took people. He took people to the light illuminations in Blackpool as well.

“Him and mammy would go off and he would have to see the place he was bringing the people to, the accommodation, to make sure it was right, to do the whole route. And when he took the people on tours he did the talking commentary, but he did all this on his own back.”

Golf and bowls

Sport was another big part of his life, as he played golf in Blacklion and Bundoran, while he competed in bowls for the St. Michael’s club.

Paulene recalls memories of how the family would go with their father to Blacklion and have a picnic down by the water’s edge and how, in later years, her father would travel to Bundoran every Tuesday for Seniors Golf, as well as the yearly excursion with fellow golfers to Marbella.

In bowls, he was part of the Irish side which won the British Isles Short Green Bowling Championships alongside fellow St. Michael’s members, Jude Morris and Paul Wilson.

Tommy’s thirst for life could not be quenched even when he suffered a massive heart attack 25 years ago.

While many people would have slowed down and taken a more relaxed look at life, Tommy was determined to stay active. He continued to play golf, and he only stopped going to bowls when the Covid pandemic arose.

“He was 86 years of age, but there’re many men at 50 who didn’t have the physique daddy had,” said Paulene.

Daily visits to the Lakeland Forum and St. Michael’s for Mass were very much part of Tommy’s daily routine. Even when Covid put a halt to this, it did not stop Tommy from getting his daily exercise in.

“When Covid came and he couldn’t go to the Forum, he didn’t like that, so we got him an exercise bike and equipment. He would go upstairs into the bedroom and everyday he would do his exercises.

“When I took him to the heart nurse in January and she put him on the scales, he was 11 stone. And she said: ‘Tommy, you have to be the only man coming through these doors, including ourselves, that has lost weight over Christmas!’,” added Paulene.

Despite Tommy’s sons, Kieran and Adrian, living away in England and Galway, they were still able to make it home for the funeral.

Kieran and his family received negative Covid tests just before flying, and were back in Fermanagh a day before Tommy was laid to rest. Adrian travelled up from Galway, and got to say goodbye to his father just before he passed away.

This, alongside the messages and the amount of people who lined the road on the way to the chapel and in Derrygonnelly on the way to the cemetery, was of great comfort to the family, who were able to mourn together.

Paulene had a special mention for two employees from Dunnes Stores who came to pay their respects.

“Daddy was a great man for Dunnes Stores, and two members of Dunnes staff came up with a hamper and said how they were going to miss daddy coming into Dunnes.

“I just thought that for two members in their uniform to do that, it touched me more than anything. I couldn’t believe how nice that was.”

He will be greatly missed; “he was one in a million – he was just wonderful, and we are going to miss him terribly,” said Paulene.

Tommy Howe was laid to rest on February 12 in St. Patrick’s Church Cemetery, Derrygonnelly.

He was the beloved husband of Josie; a loving father to Paulene (John), Kieran (Tracey), Adrian (Catherine); devoted grandfather to Christopher, Lauren, Caoimhe, Paula, Shona, Aisling, Conor and Tiernan; and to his great-grandchildren, Oscar and Cooper.

A dear brother of Aidan and Mary (McGrath), he was pre-deceased by John, Packie and his grandson Liam (R.I.P).

Funeral arrangements were by Damian McGovern Funeral Directors, Derrygonnelly.