Tributes paid to popular local figure Breffni Rowan

There was sadness throughout Athlone this week at the news of the death of former councillor, sports aficionado, and community activist Breffni Rowan.

Mr Rowan, a well-known and respected local figure from Westlodge, Athlone passed away yesterday (Thursday ) after a short illness.

His passing came just days after he had been honoured by the FAI for his contribution to soccer locally. He was presented with the FAI John Sherlock Services to Football Award during the recent FAI Festival of Football in Westmeath, in recognition of his contribution to underage soccer in Athlone.

Breffni was one of the founders of the Athlone and District Schoolboys/ Girls League (ADSL ) and he was involved in the development of the organisation, working with hundreds of local young footballers over the years.

In a statement yesterday, ADSL secretary Terry O’Neill, said: “The ADSL are saddened to learn of the death of one of our founder members and a true legend Mr Breffni Rowan, RIP.

“Bref will be fondly and well remembered by all who knew him. On behalf of all our football family, we extend our sincerest sympathies to his family at this very sad time. May he rest in peace.”

Well known on the political scene, Breffni was elected as an Independent councillor on Athlone Urban District Council in 1985, and served as a councillor until 2004. During this time he played a prominent role in securing funding for the Regional Sports Centre. He was colleagues for several years of former Independent councillor Austin Berry, who passed away just last week.

Breffni was also heavily involved in the local community, working in recent years on the European People’s Festival.

Athlone’s deputy mayor Aengus O’Rourke said it was with great sadness that he had learned of Breffni’s death yesterday.

“I would encounter him almost every day walking down Pearse Street, and we would generally talk about politics, sport, and Athlone - in that order.

“He is a huge loss on a lot of different levels. He was very dedicated to his family and to his grandchildren. He was a significant player on the European People’s Festival, and also played a part in promoting town twinning. He had a great love for sport, and was very forward thinking,” said Cllr O’Rourke.

Breffni is survived by his wife Ruth, daughter Sharon, sons Fergus, Neil, and John, and sister Maureen.

His remains will be reposing at Flynn’s Funeral Home, The Strand, this evening (Friday ) from 5.30pm to 8pm.

His funeral Mass will take place tomorrow, Saturday, at 11am in Ss Peter and Paul’s Church, with burial afterwards in Coosan Cemetery. Donations, if desired, in lieu of flowers to Cancer Care West.

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