Mr Tony Clarke

MR Tony Clarke, who has died aged 66, was born on October 11, 1954. He began his education in Legananny Primary School before moving on to St Malachy’s High School in Castlewellan.

At the early age of 14 Tony sat the Michelin apprentice exam.  Even then his technical knowledge was recognised and he was selected to undertake a placement at their Ballymena factory.

Here he excelled and after a few years he was promoted to head of maintenance and a technical supervisor in the Mallusk plant. During these years at Michelin Tony also expanded his sporting interests to include swimming, which he had a natural talent for, making him very proud. 

Tony married his wife, Veronica, in 1977 and together they raised a family of four children, Chris, Michael, Niall and Vicki, and later eight grandchildren.

He moved back home to Leitrim in 1983 and established AJ Clarke Electrical Contractor which, with the help of his family, has morphed into the very successful AJC Group.  Tony remained hands-on in the company until his final days and was very proud of all they had achieved. 

In the early 90s Tony became involved in the Liatroim Fontenoys GAA club committee.  He began their fundraising journey with a steak barbecue, raising the money which enabled the Fontenoys to hire the tent for their first festival in 1994, and so began the festival years.

Tony was a driving force in the club’s festival committee and this was to become one of the biggest events in the locality every summer. During this era of the festival, and the club’s new Lotto, the seeds were sown for the great new Fontenoys development that has been achieved in recent years.

Tony was a man to deliver his best for the Fontenoys and for the whole community. He believed passionately that the community included all people. This was widely recognised and Tony became club chairman from 1997 to 2000. 

Apart from work and the GAA, Tony in his spare time had a great interest in travel. 

He travelled extensively around the world.  This can be seen by the map hanging pride of place in his home with drawing pins at every place he has visited.

At home he loved his Lego sets, Meccano, Formula One and farming. He also enjoyed a bit of craic and a good night out. With his close friends and club mates and family, he often went to the Munster final and followed his beloved Down on their All Ireland journeys. 

In recent years Tony had to deal with some health issues, which he carried with a smile and an optimistic outlook to the end. Tony passed away on July 1, 2021.  He will be sadly missed by his family, friends and the community as a whole.

He was a loving husband to Veronica and a rock for his family, a Liatroim Fontenoy who cared deeply about the club, a Down man who enjoyed all the ups and downs that would bring, a keen traveller, a businessman, a great mentor to those around him and a man whose faith was central to how he lived.