It was with massive sadness that Buccaneers Rugby Football Club heard of the death of PAT HYNES, a truly iconic figure in Athlone and Buccaneers rugby for many decades. He was undoubtedly the most loved member in the club, although he would surely squirm at that description. Pat passed away aged 71 following a lengthy illness bravely borne with fortitude in his own positive manner.

Known far and wide, in many sporting circles and beyond, simply as BIG PAT he made a huge contribution to the club that he absolutely loved. He played with distinction in the colours of Athlone RFC for many seasons, captaining them in the 1984 Connacht Junior Cup final having played on the team that won the same Cup in 1979. Following his lengthy playing career Big Pat then coached and managed various teams including the Senior squad in the club. He also served in various administrative roles including Football Chairperson and his immeasurable voluntary work ranged from marking pitches, painting dressing-rooms, stewarding on Ireland U-20 match nights, putting up match signs and, on one memorable occasion, holding up a broken crossbar during an AIL match. Refereeing was possibly the only rugby challenge he never undertook, perhaps with good reason!

He was involved in many strands of the club but found his true niche in latter years as Facilities Manager and he was immensely proud of the facilities at Dubarry Park where he minded the pitches and dressing-rooms area like gold dust. Dare any team risk treading on a pitch without his say so! He took deep pleasure in the achievements of Buccs players such as Robbie Henshaw and Jack Carty and derived great satisfaction in framing theirs and others representative jerseys to put on display in the clubhouse where he also erected numerous photographs of teams and players, past and present.

Pat was President of Athlone RFC in 1990/91 and 20 years later he was elected President of Buccaneers RFC in 2010/11, thus becoming the first club member to be honoured as President of the club under it’s former and present names. His efforts on behalf of the club were recognised when he won the coveted ‘Club Person of the Year’ award in 2012. His passion for the club knew no bounds, so much so that he not only took to the stage in 2016’s “Strictly Scrum Dancing” but emerged the most popular of victors! He had a great love of animals too with a faithful dog called ‘Bundee’ after one of his favourite rugby players while his inimitable sense of humour is evidenced by naming his donkey (or ass as Pat referred to the mammal) ‘Louis’ after a player who did not meet his standards! Standards were important for Paddy and he applied that to every task he undertook in the club and in his home.

A man of real generosity and integrity, Big Pat’s trojan endeavours on behalf of the club over many decades will be irreplaceable. The term ‘legend’ is too readily bandied about nowadays but the description is so apt for the man from south-east Roscommon. His loss will be greatest to his wife Peggy, son Patrick, daughter-in-law Maria, his beloved grandchildren Maja, Jenna and Patrick, and sister Maureen. Heartfelt condolences are extended to them and the wider Hynes and Turley families and vast circle of friends, clubmates and colleagues.

A massive crowd attended Pat’s liturgy service in St. Mary’s Church, Moore, on Holy Thursday officiated with appropriate compassion by Fr. Michael Molloy. The Parish Priest’s beautiful homily was the first occasion that this writer witnessed applause from a congregation for a priest’s funeral oration but it was truly merited as was Big Pat’s long-time friend Michael Grogan’s eulogy. The attendance included many rugby figures including familiar faces from the past as well as representatives from numerous sporting clubs. Buccaneers RFC provided a Guard of Honour from the church to the graveyard. The Henshaw family played a slow air as the great man was laid to rest and followed that with a rousing rendition of Paddy’s party-piece “The Boys from the County Armagh” to which the mourners joined in.

One minute’s silence was observed before the Connacht Junior Cup final while the club’s weekly Executive Committee meeting was cancelled also as a mark of respect to Big Pat.

May Pat Hynes’ gentle soul rest in eternal peace.

Ni bheidh a leithead aris ann.