The community of Boyle has been deeply saddened by the passing of one of it's greatest activists Sandra McCrann. That community had been shocked when they first heard the news of her illness and displayed their concern at a communal prayer service in early March. I have used the word ‘community’ three, now four, times in a couple of lines, something one should not do. But Sandra was THE great community person. This has been referred to many times in recent weeks and especially in recent days. Sandra was always for the underdog. There were no boundaries.
I’ll retreat to a well-known verse from a Kipling poem that highlights those qualities.
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it”
Boyle Golf Club in its tribute to her spoke appropriately thus;
“The feeling around the club this week is one of great sorrow, we have been left bereft by the loss of one of our finest members, Sandra Mc Crann. Sandra was a former committee member and Lady Captain of the club, and was the co-author of the book produced to commemorate Boyle Golf Club's centenary in 2011. She also gave of her time to the club in many other ways, including helping out with both events in the clubhouse and maintenance on the course. However, none of this quite touches on the most important thing Sandra brought to the club, which was Sandra herself. Her easy-going, selfless, inclusive and generous nature were what set Sandra apart - from small acts such as her welcome and support for new members of our club to such significant ones as acting as carer for loved ones who needed her help”
These sentiments are re-echoed by the various organisations Sandra was involved with. And when she was involved it was not in a casual way, it was real involvement. Still while her mind might be playing with ideas, a deal of the time, the outward demeanour was calm, calm.
Apart from a very productive period with the Golf Club she has had a lengthy association with Boyle Celtic. Circa 2006 she explored the role of linking soccer with advancing education possibilities. In this she and a number of Celtic officials visited Sunderland then under the direction of Niall Quinn where this was in train. Niall welcomed them and they explored their ideas.
Twice young Celtic teams were brought to England once to Reading and then to Sunderland for tournaments. I asked one of the officials if Sandra was with them “If she wasn’t there we wouldn’t have been there either” was the confident reply. “She was a brilliant organiser and had everything down to a tee”. These were totally financed by fund-raising campaigns one involved the production of St. Brigid’s crosses from Corrnameeltha.
Two of her boys Brian and Jake are fine footballers and she supported them diligently and calmly. In more recent times she provided the half time refreshments during Boyle Celtic games. ‘Provided’ is not just a right word there, ‘presented’ might be more appropriate. For someone like me with a very sweet tooth it was special every time. Visitors were awe struck by the ‘spread’ at those games. If you showed a particular fondness for a certain variety you could even get to take it home! I felt ok in doing same as I was not alone in that. She had a hand too in the impressive Sporting Mural on Celtic’s Clubhouse gable.
Apart from her culinary expertise she assembled a very impressive pictorial history of Boyle Celtic some of which adorns its clubhouse walls while the remainder is included in large files. These were used to advance the club's status when in the final grouping for National Junior Club of the Year in Kilkenny in 2017. She certainly contributed to raising Boyle Celtic to a new level of achievement and possibility.
With Boyle GAA I remember her when the young Boyle team, including Brian, went all the way to Mosney and the finals of the Community games. While her boys were more into soccer Sandra did her bit with a number of years on that tough gig of the weekend GAA Club Lotto.
There was also her interest in local history as with her important project in numerating the names on the headstones in The Church of Ireland graveyard at the top of Green Street. In this I was told she was assisted by her mother.
Sometimes Sandra would come across some items of interest and pass it on to me such as the newspaper accounts of Sir Alan Cobham’s Air Display near Grange, Boyle in 1933.
She spent a number of years working with David O’Connor Auctioneering Boyle where her manner, disposition and work ethic shone through. In asking a few people of their memories of Sandra the recurring theme is of a woman who treated everyone the same with courtesy and consideration.
Boyle GAA Club in extending its sympathy to the Mc Crann family on the sad passing of Sandra referenced her thus;
“Sandra was a dedicated member of a lotto team for many years and an avid supporter of Brian and Jake’s teams. Her friendship, lively wit and can do attitude will be remembered with great fondness.”
As her funeral cortege passed by the Abbey Park and Boyle Celtic Park a guard of honour from the Golf, GAA, and Celtic clubs with community groups lined the roadway for a distance. It was a telling testament to the regard, recognition and respect for a very special, unique person, who leaves a legacy of ‘communal’ achievement and a treasury of memories
Ar dheis De go raibh a h-anam dilis.