By Jimmy Rhatigan
MEMBERS OF a loving family dreaded going to a memorial event to mark the life of one of the most popular men in Callan and environs.
Willie Cooke, born June 11, 1977 passed away in his all too young years on December 2, 2017.
As they grieved, his parents, brothers, sisters and children were hesitant about a community event that came so soon after the family funeral.
But they were so overwhelmed by a passionate and caring turnout for the hugely admired and good humoured Willie that they didn’t want the day to end, a friend told The Reporter.
Occasion was a Tractor Memorial Tractor Run, with an auction and raffle for the man who worked with local farm contractors, John Joe Burke and Stephen Dunne.
The fund-raiser was to help the children Willie loved, son Owen and daughter Amelia Rose who will benefit from a fantastically successful and hugely supported benefit run organised by former employers and workmates
His heartbroken relatives were delighted with the respect shown to a man who was so central to their lives.
The run of over 140 tractors, was led by Willie’s friend, Paulie Barry in a John Deere.
In front of the convoy in a decked out van was Westcourt business Park tyre dealer, Philly Ireland.
The off was at the Fair Green, Callan, a traditional meeting place for farmers in the region and the convoy motored through Dunnamaggin and Kells.
Back at the Fair Green a big crowd had gathered for an auction of mainly farm machinery, fuel vouchers and trailers of wood, donated by local business.
Auctioneer was Philip Lynch and spirited bidding meant that all lots were sold out in record time.
And there was more to come. A gathering was enjoyed at the Cosy Inn Bar where a well supported raffle, again with prizes from generous local businesses, generated more funds for the late Willie’s young children.
Main organisers of a goodwill project that won the hearts and minds of local people were John Joe Burke, Wayne Byrne, Kevin Ryan and Paulie Barry, all of whom worked with Willie.
Family present, all of whom appreciated a wonderful memorial day were his mother Marie, father Pat, sisters Aisling, Carmel, Caroline, Sandra and brothers, Charles and Dermot.
It is expected that the memorial run will be an annual event.