Tributes have been pouring in following the death on Wednesday this week of recently retired Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, and Roscommon native, Lieutenant General Dermot Earley.
Lt Gen Earley, who retired from the Defence Forces on June 13, had been ill for a number of months.
In addition to his distinguished Army career, Dermot Earley will be remembered by many in these parts for his prowess on the football field, having played Gaelic football for Roscommon for 20 years from 1965 to 1985.
He was the holder of five Connaught senior medals, two All-Star awards, one National League medal (1979 ), one U21 All-Ireland Medal (1966 ), an All-Ireland runners up medal (1980 ), and two Railway Cup medals.
Local figures have been paying tribute to his leadership qualities, both on and off the pitch.
Minister for Housing and Local Services and TD for Roscommon-South Leitrim, Michael Finneran, described him as “a personal friend”, and offered his sympathies to his family and his colleagues in the Irish Defence Forces and in the GAA.
“Dermot was a great servant of this country and his loss will be deeply felt, not alone in Roscommon where he was born, in Kildare where he lived in recent years, but by his friends and family throughout the country,” said Minister Finneran.
Roscommon councillor John Kelly said Lt Gen Earley was “a colossus on every field that he graced”.
“If his sporting career was characterised by strong leadership and determination, so too was his military life. He served with distinction not just at home, but also abroad.
“As Defence Forces Chief of Staff, he was a hugely modernising influence and enhanced the reputation of our Military across the world.”
Speaking on Wednesday, Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sean McCann, said he was a man of “exceptional personal qualities”.
“He was an officer of keen intellect who focussed his many talents and abilities on modernising the Defence Forces and on enhancing the reputation of the organisation both at home and overseas.
“General Earley was a gifted sportsman and a man of unique interpersonal skills, whose conduct was the very essence of inspirational leadership,” he said.
Lt Gen Earley was born in 1948 and joined the Defence Forces as a Cadet in 1965. He was appointed Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces by the Government on 28 June 2007, and in April this year was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM ) with Honour by An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen.
He is survived by his mother Kitty, his wife Mary, his sons David, Dermot, and Conor, his daughters Paula, Ann-Marie, and Noelle, his daughter-in-law Sinead, his grandson Oisin, and by his brothers Paul and Peter, and his sisters Margaret and Denise.
Lt Gen Earley is to be buried with full military honours in Newbridge, Co Kildare on Saturday.