The black sheep of a Scottish family, Jock turned up in Limerick ten years ago, searching for an old colleague from the Northern Rhodesia police. He was an extraordinary creature with the gift of instantly becoming beloved by all who met him. He settled here, he won a huge circle of friends here, and when he died he was one of the most mourned men I have ever known. When he became ill, he moved for a while to Castleconnell, a village outside Limerick, and he was astounded by the discovery of Paddy Guerin’s pub. I have found Heaven, he announced. A pub and a fishing-tackle shop all in one! Jock’s doctor promised him he’d see the Mayfly season and he was true to his word.
Shortly before he left us, I managed to persuade him to record a couple of stories in Eamonn’s studio, which he did, and when we left the tape running we even got a couple of jokes from him. But his health was failing and he never did manage to record all the fairytales.
He was a gentleman. The day before he died, he phoned me, and he said I’m terribly sorry, but I really feel I won’t be able to finish reading those stories. Please accept my apologies.
When he died, we held a huge wake for him. There were no priests or ministers or other witch-doctors. We laid him out in Johnny Thompson’s funeral home, in his beloved Munster rugby shirt, and people brought fiddles, whiskey, saxophones. Tom Murphy acted as Master of Ceremonies. People stood up beside the coffin, took the microphone, told stories, sang songs, told jokes and reminisced about their times with Jock. QJS threw back half of a naggin of whiskey and laid the remainder beside Jock. Somebody else donated a copy of the Times of London, open to the crossword, and a pen. Nicky Woulfe put in a rugby ball. Some kind person left smokes.
Jock had all he needed for the afterworld.
Johnny Thompson said it was the best funeral he ever saw, and that was how he wanted to go himself, which was a hell of a thing for an undertaker to say, but he wasn’t just bullshitting. I’ve met him at dozens of funerals since and he always takes me by the elbow. Jesus, that was a great funeral, he winks.
Jock was cremated. Most of his ashes were scattered on Thomond Park and with the remainder we constructed a white concrete block – Jock’s Block – which rests outside the White House pub. We set up the wet concrete on the back of a trailer and in the middle we placed his urn which contains, inter alia, a bookie slip, a pen, a pouch of tobacco, a pack of Rizla, a bunch of photographs and a sheaf of farewell notes from his friends. Everybody gathered to stir the concrete and the block is still there. You can see it any time you pass that establishment.
It has a simple plaque that says
A proud Munster Man.
Born Duirinish, Scotland
6th February 1940
Died Limerick 12th July 2004
Made for him by his friends.
Heineken Cup Final 2006
In a final twist, Jimmy Griseto broke off a piece of the block and took it to Cardiff for the final of the European Rugby Cup last year. When we won, Jimmy had a word with the security people and explained the importance of the situation. They understood, and so Jimmy got to scatter the crushed stone on the field of the Millennium Stadium. We were all in Cardiff to see our team take home the European Cup at long last, and so was Jock. And so he remains.
It seemed only fair to give Jock the last word at his wake, and so we wired the room for sound.
This is what Jock said at his own wake.