The death of Paddy Joe Coppinger at his home last week caused widespread sadness in the entire area and beyond. Paddy Joe who was in his mid 80s was the main history person in the area. He was blessed with a wonderful memory and had an extraordinary wealth of information, particularly on family history. Paddy Joe was an icon who had information on not alone almost every family the parish but of a wider community that spread throughout many parishes, particularly in Craughwell and Loughrea areas from which his mother came.
Over many years the home of Paddy Joe Coppinger was sought by people from across the county who came looking on family research and it was rarely that Paddy Joe let them down. Indeed on many occasions when a query failed him Paddy Joe would go chasing through other people to find out the information that they were looking for. His home was always open where his wife Bridgie always had the kettle boiled.
Paddy Joe was a legend in the Lackagh community and he was to the fore in all of the rich heritage that took place within the parish over the years. He played a leading role in two parish histories about Lackagh published under the direction of Marie Fahy and Brid Higgins in Community projects. He was a founding member of Lackagh Museum and played a vital role in the establishment of the museum project.
Paddy Joe was a man of simple pleasures and although he seldom left Lackaghbeg, he enjoyed immensely all of the journeys that he took to visit people in other areas, attending funerals away from home and the occasional trips he made outside of the country. It was meeting people and having discussions with them that Paddy Joe loved most. He was never a man to just observe scenery and he wanted to know about the place and more importantly the people. Paddy Joe loved life and lived it to the full.
He farmed all his life in Lackaghbeg where he gained a rich heritage from his father John who lived well into his 90s, as well as many of the older men in the village like Tom Moran, Denis and Willie Lardner, Martin Tarpey and James Moran. In the days when conversation was effectively the only pastime for local farmers, Paddy Joe listened carefully and being blessed with a recording mind was able to pass on much information to the generations that followed.
He was a hardworking farmer and the horse and plough became an important part of his life. A keen ploughman, he captured three Horse Ploughing Championships in his youth. It was fitting that his grandchildren would follow in his footsteps, albeit in tractor ploughing, and his coffin was draped with the National Ploughing Association flag. Members of the ploughing association formed a guard of honour at his funeral.
In more difficult days Paddy Joe and his wife Bridgie ran a farm that was self sufficient and they provided for a large family. In later years Paddy Joe enjoyed the visits of people. He kept regular contact with his brothers, all of whom emigrated and set up new lives over-seas. He was proud of the fact that his brother Edward became a regular contributor of poems to the Claregalway Parish Newsletter, Nuacht Chláir.
He will be sadly missed in the Lackagh community, but he has left behind a rich legacy of wonderful memories for the many people he met over the years.
His remains were removed from Lackagh Mortuary Chapel to the Church of Our Lady of Knock, Lackagh. Following concelebrated Requiem Mass where Fr Des Walsh P P was joined by Fr John D Flannery, Fr Johnny Dunleavy SMA and Fr Brendan Gunning, burial took place in Lackagh Cemetery.
Paddy Joe is survived by his wife Bridgie, sons Gerry, Tommy, Paddy, daughters, Cathleen, Mary, Norina, Breda, Olivia, brothers Michael, Dan and Edward, grandchildren, in-laws, nieces, nephews, relatives, neighbours and friends.