The death of Peter John Rafferty, late of Tullyvannon, on July 13, weeks short of his 84th birthday, was deeply felt throughout the Killeeshil area.
Peter John was a husband, father, grandfather and a much loved and highly respected neighbour and friend.
One of Peter John’s most significant achievements was his key role in the founding of St. Mary’s GFC Killeeshil in 1956. That was the year that Tyrone won its first Senior Ulster Championship which sparked off a new interest in Gaelic football within the County. Peter John and his late brother Paul, bought a pigskin football and, in the evenings, kicked around in a field on their farm adjacent to the old A4. Word spread around the Parish and, in a short period, they were joined by up to 20 others for the evening kick-about. This led to the decision to form a Club in the Parish of Killeeshil and Peter John was the anchor from the outset. The new Club was affiliated and competitive football commenced. Peter John was one of the few men who had a car at the time and he was more than happy to transport half a team to games in the days when seat belts were non existent and passenger regulation were a bit more relaxed.
The Club struggled in its early years owing to mass emigration in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. At this time, the Club has no fixed abode and moved around regularly, taking goal post cut from pine trees with them, to any reasonably flat agricultural land which was available. In the late 1960’s Peter John was instrumental in purchasing the land in Killeeshil where the Club is based. He was to the forefront in having the initial field developed, and indeed on the same the site Killeeshil Community Centre was built in the Mid 1990’s.
Right up to his death, Peter John’s commitment to St. Mary’s GFC never wavered or diminished. Not only was he a founder member but he was a Club President, Trustee and a source of wise counsel. It was fitting that, on the introduction in 2017 of the Tyrone Credo Awards for dedicated service to the GAA, Peter John was the Clubs first recipient of a gold award in recognition of his lifetime of unstinting service.
Peter John Rafferty was patient, tolerant and generous. He had a strong Catholic faith which he lived in true Christian fashion. He had friends in all sections of the community. In his latter years, he derived great satisfaction in attending youth games, and supporting the boys and girls teams in their Club colours taking part in competitions.
Like in his farming days when Peter John worked at potatoes, carefully preparing the ground and planting seed, the biggest seed he planted can still be seen wearing the green and white hooped jersey, Killeeshil GFC owes its existence in large measure to the drive and determination of Peter John Rafferty. He was an exemplary volunteer whose community spirit and all round decency is an example to us all.
To Marie, Brian, Colm, Sean, Brenda, Nigel and Noleen, his grandchildren, his sister and entire family circle, Killeeshil GFC offers it’s sincere sympathy on your loss and our deep gratitude for his legacy.
Go ndeanfaidh Dia trocaire Ar a Anam uasal.