Bandon GAA Club indebted to late Kathleen Canty for years of service

The ultimate volunteer, Kathleen - who died in October - was involved in countless organisations in the town
Bandon GAA Club indebted to late Kathleen Canty for years of service

Kathleen Canty (right) in her capacity as PRO of Bandon For The Special Olympics in 2003, pictured alongside Liz O'Brien and Ann Beechinor. Picture: Gavin Browne

The spirit of volunteerism of Bandon GAA stalwart Kathleen Canty, who died recently, will remain an inspiration to the club going forward, says chairperson Ian Doyle.

Kathleen’s passing on October 31 leaves the club, and the town, with a tough task in covering all of the work that she did, across various organisations.

However, her legacy will be to show what can be achieved, Doyle feels.

“She set the marker on volunteerism and commitment and dedication,” he says.

“People can aspire to be like Kathleen and that’s the best way of honouring her memory.

“Like every club, we try to do succession planning and having people to take over roles but she was involved in so many different things.

“There was another committee recently, doing the history of Bandon GAA, and she was stepped in that, too. So, while she was stepping back from some things, she was getting involved in other stuff.

“It’ll be very hard to replace her and the club will miss her desperately as regards her commitment and her involvement – her passion for the club and the games.”

Kathleen Canty was born on March 8, 1947, the only child of the late Daniel and Annie Canty. She attended Presentation primary and secondary schools, which were a positive influence on her life, before she proceeded onto university to study primary school teaching.

By the time of her retirement in 2009, she had become vice-principal of St Columba’s Girls NS with Facility for Deaf Children.

In delivering the eulogy at her funeral, Ian Doyle summed up Kathleen’s level of community involvement.

“Kathleen was a true Bandonian and a wonderful ambassador for our town,” he said.

“She gave her time so selflessly to so many organisations including Bandon Parish Assembly, Brinny Pitch and Putt, Age-Friendly Bandon, Bandon Hyperbaric Oxygen Centre, Bandon Meals on Wheels, Bandon PTA, Bandon Legion of Mary, Cumann Seanchas na Banndan, Bandon Hill Walking Club, Bandon Toastmasters, Coolfadda Bridge Club, Bandon For The Special Olympics, Cumann Fianna Fáil and Bandon GAA Club.

“Apologies if I missed any club or organisation but it was difficult to keep track on all of Kathleen’s busy activities. I often wonder where did she have the spare time.”

Kathleen Canty (far right, front row) pictured in 2019 at St Michael's Centre in Bandon along with some of the participants in community group Creative Bandon's 'Generation Yarn. Back: Lucy Finnegan, Chloe Moloney, Erica O’Donoghue, Karuk Wongkumad, Ann Fragolini, Fiona Horgan, Sara Buckley, Anna Daly and Caoimhe Ní Fhlaitheartaigh. Front: Betty Kelly, Mary Jo Duggan, Mae Maxwell, Daphne Jeffers and Kathleen Canty. Picture: Donie Hurley
Kathleen Canty (far right, front row) pictured in 2019 at St Michael's Centre in Bandon along with some of the participants in community group Creative Bandon's 'Generation Yarn. Back: Lucy Finnegan, Chloe Moloney, Erica O’Donoghue, Karuk Wongkumad, Ann Fragolini, Fiona Horgan, Sara Buckley, Anna Daly and Caoimhe Ní Fhlaitheartaigh. Front: Betty Kelly, Mary Jo Duggan, Mae Maxwell, Daphne Jeffers and Kathleen Canty. Picture: Donie Hurley

Local politics was a passion for Kathleen, who was a Bandon Town Commissioner from 1979-99 – often the only female presence – twice serving as chairperson.

Her level of dedication to the GAA club was unmatched.

“She was involved way back in the 1970s, if not earlier,” says Doyle.

“Her father was Daniel Canty, the local taxi driver, and she grew up on North Main St. She was into the whole heritage and culture of Bandon, she was very passionate about that.

“She got involved in loads of organisations over the years, but the GAA was probably the biggest one.

“I was looking at the 1984 centenary booklet and Kathleen was listed on five or six different committees within the club – adult, juvenile, badminton, fundraising and pavilion, she was in everything. And that was all in one club, not to mind any other ones apart from the GAA!

“Her big thing was the pavilion, she took over as secretary of that and managed and organised it and looked after the bookings. Then, every Thursday night for four decades, she managed the bingo. Everyone all over West Cork knew Kathleen from that point of view.

“She was a constant presence within the club – Kathleen was the pavilion, really.”

That passion remained up until the very end, as noted by an anecdote in the eulogy.

“Two months ago in early September, Bandon were playing a football game in Ballinacarriga,” Doyle told the mourners.

“As usual, Kathleen had arrived extra early to get her parking space. As the Bandon players were warming up on the pitch, Kathleen was doing laps around the pitch on the pedestrian walkway.

“Every time she passed the Bandon dugout, she stopped to give our club secretary, Colman O’Mahony, and myself instructions, making sure that we were duly prepared for the championship match.

“Throughout her life, Kathleen clearly demonstrated kindness and empathy in her professional life as a teacher and in the wider local community. One of the reasons Kathleen had a wide circle of friends was because of the kindness and empathy she showed over many years.

“In recent times, as Kathleen’s health deteriorated, many of her friends had the opportunity to return that kindness to her and support her through her illness.”

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