ON WEDNESDAY morning last a pinging phone alerted me to a text: “Sad news coming from Beara this morning, with the sudden passing of Garda Aidan Cremin, he will be greatly missed May he RIP.”
Aidan grew up in Beaufort, played underage and adult football with the local club. He was an accomplished forward, with his left foot, being the appendage of choice when kicking was required.
During his adult playing career, the Mid Kerry club were going through a barren period, however, they did win the Mid Kerry championship in 1999 and won a county intermediate title in 2000.
Aidan was a key player in both victories.
As a student, he attended St Brendan’s College, Killarney where his footballing prowess earning him a place on their senior team.
After attending Tralee IT and prior to becoming a much-valued member of An Garda Siochana, Aidan worked in Moriarty Photography Killarney and even though he was only in early-'20s, he involved himself in coaching underage at his club.
This was the beginning of a coaching career, where so many young people in three counties of Ireland benefited from the not alone his coaching skill set but as importantly from his incredible generosity of spirit.
On graduating from Templemore, he took up duty in a place called Hackballscross, county Louth. He joined Kilkerley Emmets a local GAA club both as a player and as a coach.
He again made a huge contribution and though, he left the area 13 years ago to take up a position in Adrigole Garda station, the outpouring of sympathy that emanated from the Louth club on hearing of his early demise was a testament of his contribution.
A book of condolences was opened at the club, Further books were also opened at Adrigole GAA premises and Castletownbere Garda Station.
On arrival in Adrigole, he joined the local GAA club again both as a player and a coach.
His time, as a top onfield operator may have been coming to an end but he did manage to score a goal in the replay of the first 'Battle of Beara' in 2008 which was pivotal to an Adrigole victory over Castletownbere.
For the record, for any of you that may be tempted to make a documentary on these serious of neighbourly clashes, Castletownbere won the next instalment in 2011.
In 2012 Adrigole won an opening-round game but when the two sides meet again in that season's semi-final, the Town came out on top.
From his time of arrival, until his untimely passing, Aidan immersed himself completely in all facets of community activity, from coaching and managing several teams to involving himself in several fundraising and well-being events.
He was possessed of that gift of doing without the need for affirmation or any form of recognition. This enabled him to be a most unsung and effective leader.
On the closing of the Garda station in Adrigole, he took up duty at the Castletonbere station. However, he wasn’t lost to his first posting as he built a house in the area.
I am not aware of many West Cork primary schools that played in the Aviva stadium but on the back of Aidan’s coaching ability, Trafrask NS reaching an All-Ireland Primary School’s 5-a-side final in 2018.
They lost that day, but incredibly, they reached the final 12 months later, again at the Aviva, only on this occasion they arrived back in the beautiful peninsula with the laurels.
For a period, Aidan also served as a school’s GAA coaching officer where he visited primary schools in the division. This programme was another successful venture not least because of the skill and personality set of Garda Aidan, Beara CS is the main provider of second-level education for the vast majority of young people in the area.
Aidan was a regular visitor to the school and became an important part of the support system at the campus. This support had him, working as, a football coach, a mentor, and Community Garda.
Suffice to say that many including staff and students benefited from the involvement in their lives of this most genial of individuals.
He also had an involvement in some of the Cork County GAA football development squads in a coaching capacity while at all times ensuring that young boys from the division didn’t miss out because of their geographical disadvantage.
Earlier, I mentioned where it all began. In 2018, Beaufort won the Kerry junior championship and followed it up with provincial and All-Ireland success.
During that journey, when the club felt that another perspective would be an addition, their old soldier wasn’t found wanting. Aidan took a few sessions. This was done in his usual low key modus operandi.
There was no need for appreciation speeches, pound notes or even a fill of diesel.
During his time at Tralee IT and while working in Killarney, he got to know some people in Templenoe GAA club and as a consequence was a was a regular visitor to the area. In 2016, he got involved in the S&C with their adult football team.
They reached the county final for the first time in 28 years and finished a very creditable third in Division 1 of the County League.
Aside from making a lasting impression with the players on this team, many of the local residents speak in multitudes of positivity about his kind-natured demeanour.
As well as his massive input as a GAA volunteer, Aidan was an outstanding member of An Garda Siochana where the welfare of all sections of the community were central to his work.
As on the GAA fields, he made a lasting impression on many people within the peninsula. One need have no doubt, that some of his deeds of practical advice and kindness were only known to the recipients and himself.
When it came to making his final journey from CUH out of the Rebel County to his resting place in The Kingdom, his kind family ensured that the journey would include a final visit to the Beara peninsula.
After passing Ballincollig, as the cortège neared Crookstown Cross the left flashing orange indicators meant that Aidan was now heading for the Bantry line into the peninsula. Adrigole and other Beara people who reside away from the area gathered here to pay their respects.
When the cortège arrived in Beara on Aidan’s final earthly journey, many gathered along the route until it exited into Kerry. When passing Trafrask NS, there was a poignant and special moment when the local school children released red and white balloons.
There was a brief pause at Adrigole GAA pitch in acknowledgement of the countless hours Aidan spent on the pitch facilitating so many to develop as both footballers and citizens.
Those that gathered at so many vantage points along the journey did so while observing social distance guidelines in an appreciative, respectful and in many cases in a tearful manner.
Red and White, as well as Green and Gold flags, were on display on several locations along the route.
These great people certainly weren’t found wanting when it came to saying their final goodbyes to a Kerryman who became one of their own.
Sleep easy, mighty man!