Bob Welby was born on the 19th of September 1939 in the Ivy Gable, Moyvoon. He was the son of Robert and Mary he was the 3rd of six children, Maureen, Pat, himself, Peig, Bridgie and Tom. His grandfather was Pat Bob whose father in turn was also Robert, God knows how far back this goes. His mother was Mary Molloy from Tullykyne. He had a strong bond with his Tullykyne cousins which continues to this day.
Growing up at the Ivy Gable his dad farmer also worked as a contract ploughman, timber tracer for the forestry. He had quite a few workhorses and also bred horses and kept a couple of racehorses.
Young Bob was in his element here and developed a keen eye for all things equine.
He went to school in Killola National School and had many friends most notably Gabriel Coyne, Mike Walsh, Pat Walsh, Mike & John Sullivan, Pac & Sean Kyne to mention a few.
Quarrying limestone was very prevalent locally and these young men earned extra money for their families selling stone. They also sold a few loads for themselves which precured funds to attend race meetings, Galway, Ballinrobe, Clifden, Oughterard, Ballyconneely, dances, carnivals, Salthill, all by bicycle often returning home in small hours. Amazing where they got the time, so life wasn’t all that bad.
In 1956, Bob aged 17 headed to London with Martin Welby. Once there he served his time as a plasterer and got to work on intricate plaster moldings in such buildings as No. 11 Downing Street and Westminster parliament buildings, he had an eye for good work and excelled at it.
During a holiday in Ireland Bob purchased a racehorse somewhat hesitantly, but as he put it “I hit into a right good one” winning races up and down Ireland traveling in a horse box often driven by his sister Peig or Paddy Geoghegan along with willie Leahy and Patsy Corcoran. For a few years he would spend a few months racing in Ireland returning to England to work for the rest of the year.
In London at the time his friends included Gabriel Coyne, Pac Kyne, Mike Clancy & Mick Walsh. One night Bob went to a dance in Camden Town, and he spotted a pretty girl working part time in the ticket hatch. Bob was smitten. Soon after he wrote home to say he had met a lovely girl from Sligo, Eileen Brennan, that was that. He met his one true love. I suppose it’s fair to say he hit into a right good one again and this one was for life. They got married as did some of their friends Mike & Maureen Clancy, Gabriel & Kathleen Coyne, also Bob’s sister Maureen married Brendan Gibney. Unfortunately, Maureen and Brendan Gibney, Gabriel Coyne and Mike Clancy have passed on as have his brother’s Tom & Pat. Friendships forged in London 60 odd years ago remained to this day with their families.
Soon to arrive in London with Bob’s cousin Pat Molloy who had a friendship more like a brother than a cousin they were very close.
Working hard came easy to Bob he started out his own plastering company and Eileen as his bookkeeper. Along came three sons Kevin, Robert & Raymond, in 1967 they came home to the farm he bought in Portacarron and a new bungalow he built. Also involved in the home coming was another racehorse, purchased in Newmarket a leaving present for himself
Bob worked tirelessly plastering all over Connemara in particular. Eileen loved the farming life and our family was to increase along came Carmel, Pat, Tracy, Tommy and just when you think it’s all over baby face Mairead arrived. Life was good in Portacarron. Some of the young families there in the early years included O’Connor’s, Dixon’s, Kelly’s, Clancy’s, Joyce’s, McQuinn’s, Healy’s, Tierney’s and Faherty’s. Friendships were formed between kids of various ages and families. Portacarron was and still is a good place for kids to live.
Bob & Eileen had fun racing in Galway, annual trips to Listowel accompanied by old friends. Many Sundays’ pony racing, football matches and other sporting events. Whenever they were out together, they were admired by youngsters as they stayed on after the disco started in Faherty’s and got on really well with the younger generation. Often, they returned home with friends and socialized into the small hours.
He had many nieces and nephews and loved keeping an eye on their progress.
Bob also enjoyed fishing with Jim McQuinn, Matt Mons, Mike Clancy, Mike Walsh and others for a day on the Corrib.
With their family reared and some of the children getting married, life should have been looking rosy for the couple. But sadly no, Eileen was taken suddenly from Bob at the age of 57, 24 years ago. Bob was left alone but instead of withdrawing; he spent a large part of his remaining working life building houses for all his children. His ambition was that all his kids would have a house in close proximity, and he achieved this. During this time grandchildren started to appear and with them a new lease of life.
Pride is apparently a deadly sin: I don’t think so, Bob was full of it for his grandkids. His eyes lit up every time they appeared, and they all loved him. They quite literally may be the reason he survived his illness for so long, stunning medics on numerous occasions coming back from the brink.
In the end he died knowing his values lived on. He fulfilled his ambition, work done, kids all good. He passed away quickly in the end, He died happy.
Our family will be forever grateful to the many medical professionals who helped Bob through his illnesses and surgeries over the last few years, in the hospital also to the fantastic team from Dr. Winters’ surgery. John Winters who became Bob’s friend and then Dr. Sean Mullen, the receptionists Patti & Ruth whose kindness and professionalism made the whole experience of caring for Bob so much smoother and manageable. Not forgetting Shane Howard who often walked out to chat to Bob in the car when he’d go to collect a prescription after a doctor’s visit.
These kindnesses weren’t only from the medical people but from the community who did things like drop by with a freshly caught trout to get him eating again or helped him with a mobile phone while he was in hospital.
All these small kindnesses added to Bob’s quality of life.
As a family we all had our little jobs to do to keep things going bur all know that in particular the love and dedication and care given to Bob by Tommy, Tracy and Mairead could never be measured and repaid, if we all lived to be a hundred. They managed to keep him comfortable and safe all through the pandemic and as one doctor said “I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it”. Thank you!
I’d like to thank Dermot Walsh and Therese for their excellent help. All the people who have turned out to support and sent condolences from near and far. The turnout in Portacarron Monday night when we brought Bob home with the lanterns lining the road was particularly moving. People who brought food to the house, helped in Tracy’s house, the list is endless. I hope you know how much your support means to our family.
A special thank you to Fr. Michael for his help and Fr. Martin for letting us celebrate this Mass here and to Fr. Michael for the Mass and the rosary the other evening and this morning in the house.
So, whether you remember Bob as a young man in his sheepskin coat, or dancing the night away with Eileen, and they could dance. Or cheering on a favorite horse on a sandy beach or with a trowel in his hand, or in the sitting room recognizing your footsteps as you came in the front door.
You’d remember a man who was a hard worker with a kind heart, a broad smile and a gentle nature. Frank Sinatra only sang about it, Bob did it his way.
Bob you will be missed, you have gone to you Eileen and your God.
May you Rest in Peace, you deserve it.