Jock Hunter

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.

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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’s Block

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

Jock's BlockJock Hunter.

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.

34 thoughts on “Jock Hunter

  1. His sounds like a life well-lived, and he, himself like a right character.

    Black sheep are the very best sort.

    It’s a pity people don’t get to see their own funerals though sometimes – Jock might have had good old chuckle at his own.

  2. What a man and what a tribute to his life. We are lucky if we can count more than 1 true friend in a lifetime, it looks as though Jock had many. Thanks for sharing Bock

  3. Very splendid. Friends are very important. I’m sure Jock had a great time and was there in some way and probably still is now and again.

  4. You had me worried there for a minute, Bock. Thought I was being led up the garden path to a devasting pun/chline, delivered aurally. The world, if not Limerick, seems to have less room for people like him now.

  5. I’ve been away from the computer all weekend, just switched it on and came online. This was the first thing I read, and it’s put me in an excellent mood for the afternoon. Cheers!

  6. At a party on the Ennis Road a few years back, I had the distinct pleasure of being asked by Mr Hunter “Margaret………are there any more like you at home……a sister perhaps”
    I took that as one of the great compliments of my life. I remember listening to his marvelous Jazz collection back at Tom Murphy’s aunt’s place. John M and I had driven him home. We enjoyed the music and the scotch he shared so freely with us. Jock’s carefully culled collection was superb………just like himself.

  7. Powerful stuff – We ‘witch-doctors’ could learn a lot ;-) John Thompson the undertaker is one of the soundest men I have ever met – During my time in Limerick I always enjoyed working with him and his late father, Frank. I remember one particularly tragic funeral of a 1 year old girl through meningitis and John’s care and consideration was second to none. A good death may not be granted to us all but we can at least do the next bit right and with John Thompson you are in safe hands.

  8. I knew Jock well when we served in the Northern Rhodesia Police. One dark evening, he bet an RAF officer a fiver that he couldn’t take off and land in the dark. The flier bet Jock a fiver he daren’t go with him. It only took a short time for them to get airborne but a long time to land as the pilot couln’t see the runway. Absolutely typical!!

  9. Ian — Thanks for the information. If you’d like to make contact with me by email, Jock’s friends in Limerick would be delighted to hear from you.

  10. I have wonderful memories of “The Honourable” Jock Hunter from my Africa Years – Lusaka/Ndola in Northern Rhodesia/Zambia. He was certainly a “one-off”. We last met up in a pub in Berwick Street, Soho in about 1981
    and he said then that he just couldn’t settle in London. He would of course be drawn to Ireland because his free spirit would have the right to roam there. Like so many of us ex Northern Rhodesia Police types, Jock would have Africa engraved on his heart.
    Heartfelt thanks to Jock’s pals in Limerick for putting in place such a fine memorial.
    It is quite possible that one or two of his old pals from Africa will call in to The White House pub to raise a glass in Jock’s memory.

  11. Dear Jock – all the memories of our childhood, you the closest friend of my brother, your sister and I inseparable friends. All the fun we had in Edinburgh and in Acharacle. It is wonderful to hear you reciting the Two Scottish Sinners – you sound exactly like your father, and have his laugh of course as always – how he would have enjoyed your recitation, especially the lilt on “and upon the third day”. You and he were the only people to call me Elpie.

  12. I’ve just discovered this stuff about Jock Hunter from something Ian Conchie wrote in our Northern Rhodesia Police Association magazine in Summer 2009 (Ian died in November 2009). I lived in Edinburgh, as did Jock, in 1961 when we both joined the Northern Rhodesia Police together. Jock’s father, one of the three Scottish High Court Judges at the time, was I think relieved to see his son transported far enough away for him to stop getting his name into the press due to his various escapades. We both arrived in Northern Rhodesia on 10th February 1961. We shared a room at the Police Training School at Lilayi. He tended to snore a lot. What a character. If a crowd of us we went out in his old Citroen banger none knew whether we would come back alive that evening. His driving was atrocious. Glad to hear he found his true home in Limerick.

  13. Dear Bock and dear all,

    I am lost for words…I’ll be very grateful if one of you will get in touch with me.
    With many thanks
    Maria Hunter

  14. Thanks to a kind member on the arrse website I discovered that Jock had moved to Ireland and made many friends there. I met Jock in the Northern Rhodesia Police training school just outside of Lusaka the Capital of N.R. I had some memorable evenings with him. He was what we called a remittance man, someone whose family would rather have abroad often supported by some financial remittances from the family because their youthful escapades at home could be a possible embarrassment. I remember us pulling his leg after he had got a commendation for disarming and arresting a gunman whilst being unarmed himself, “I must still have been pissed from the night before to have done such a silly thing” was his typically modest comment. A great bloke sadly missed as many of my former Police colleagues are.

  15. Gosh … Ken Williams of all people … why haven’t you joined the NRP Association? If you give me your email address I’ll send you a form … we have a big thrash coming up in June

  16. Hi Don,
    Good to hear from you after such a long while, I have sent you an email but this is mine in case you haven’t got it. A kind chap who posts on the arrse website under the pseudonym “spudgunny” was kind enough to send me the original link to this article. Its quite amazing I have just been in touch with Julian Perkins who was in Bancroft with me, we lost touch in the 70’s.
    Send me the application form & I’ll get it sent off.

  17. Jock was one of them chaps that made everyone feel special always had smile and a big hello, First time I met Jock I was working in the Nestor’s when a group of old timers walked in, It was like a scene Reservoir Dogs all of them wearing dark glass’s hahaha you know the guys, One of them pulled out a water pistol and squirted at me I knew then that I was dealing with Jock and his crew hahaha I Have to say Jock was a Gent and always talked about his rugby and always a story, He is well missed by all those who came across him R.I.P Jock ………….

  18. I knew Jock when he was at school in Edinburgh as was myself. Never seen him since except when he was fishing on Loch Shiel, Acharacle. But listening to the recording made at his funeral, his voice was the same as I remember it from nearly 60 years ago – amazing after all this time and his face had not changed at all – a few wrinkles but that’s all. Often wondered about him and where he was. Good to know he had so many friends in his last years. Caught up with him on Google through his sister who had found him there. You all met a very kind man and that is how I remember him. Not many of his sort around these days, alas.

  19. Hello Shiel

    Thanks for getting on contact. If you have any little details to add to our knowledge of Jock, please feel free to share them. All his friends in Limerick would be fascinated to hear more about him.

  20. Jock was a free spirit as a youngster, even though I have not seen him since I was about 17. He left an indelible impression of something that is almost intangible to describe. He was an avid fisherman like his father, mother and sister and since I come from a fishing family as well, understand the peace it must have given to him, probably the only peace from what I gather! I don’t have any more anecdotes to share but if any come to mind later, will let you all know.

    I live in Jamaica and have done for nearly 50 years and the tradition of fishing lives on in my family, albeit of a different sort. Son and grandson have inherited the bug.

  21. Do you – Bock – have an email address as I have found a typical photo of Jock doing something daft and can send it to you.

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