Tribute to Michael Reilly

Michael Joseph Reilly was born in Lattone, Glangevlin, in County Cavan in Ireland.  He was the eldest of 5 children: 4 boys and a girl, Hugh, John, Jim and Evelyn.  Michael went to Curratavy School with his brother Hughie; they were two very naughty boys, who had a lot of mischief up their sleeve.

After leaving school, Michael worked briefly with the council, working on the roads where he was praised highly for his work, but spent the majority of his time on the farm working around the homeplace.  He later followed Hughie to England in 1959 and he worked up and down the country, including Glasgow, Sheffield and London, putting in footings for roads, residential and commercial buildings.

He eventually landed in Eastbourne, and walked into the Brighton Arms where he met his great love, Olive.  Michael and Olive moved to London and got married in St George’s Cathedral on 27 May 1972, and they had some party that lasted for 3 days!

They went on to set up home in Stockwell where they had a fantastic social life with lots of friends, neighbours and family.   Shortly after they were married they were blessed with their miracle child Kerry who arrived 4 months early and only weighed one pound 7 ounces!!!  Michael idolised this tiny little bundle of joy but absolutely could not bring himself to hold her at first because she was so small.

Michael loved a pint and a brandy until he made a decision for Lent in 1984 to leave the beer and brandy on the shelf, and after Lent finished, he didn’t touch another drop.  His outlook on life changed.  He loved driving Kerry and Olive around the country, and Eastbourne was always the ‘go to’ day trip to see Olive’s family and his brother Hugh.

It was the happiest day of his life when he watched his little girl marry the love of her life John O’Halloran in his home parish of Glangevlin.  Olive and Michael were very proud parents and gave Kerry the wedding of her dreams.

Following many happy years living on South Lambeth Road, they then decided to make a big decision to move out to Welling where they were extremely happy until Michael sadly lost his Olive in January 2006.  Michael had a very comfortable, caring, loving home with Kerry and John and all the little dogs they had along the way which he enjoyed taking for many walks.

He enjoyed a wonderful social life in Welling, frequenting the Irish lunch clubs in Falconwood and Bexleyheath, and he especially loved day trips on coaches to the coast.  Michael had many happy holidays: his most favourite place to be was his homeland Ireland, and he also ventured to Spain for the Irish weeks where he would meet friends, get to know the artists and listen to the Irish music.

Michael loved nothing more than listening to Irish country music, whether it be in the car, on the TV or the radio.  Kerry and John would often sit in the sitting room, thinking that Michael was having a party in the next room.

Michael’s faith was very important to him and included himself in many parish communities. He was especially close to Father Tom Heneghan who he would often visit at Corpus Christi Church, in Brixton, and Fr Eric Nimmo of St John Fisher Church, in Kidbrooke, both of whom have sadly passed away and they were both very much missed by Michael.

He was without doubt the resident Neighbourhood Watch, and loved nothing more than to discourage the parking attendants from walking up Ruskin Avenue, where he lived.  The neighbours in Welling loved to stop and chat to Michael on the corner of the road, didn’t understand half of what he said but kindly nodded and enjoyed his little chats.

Michael was not afraid to speak out and often let his feelings be known, but he was a generous and kind man, with a twinkle in his eyes that alerted others that a joke was coming and it could be questionable.  All of Michael’s family and friends will miss his little chats and hearing his funny sayings; he had a great memory for history and could tell a story that would have you in stitches.

It is safe to say that Kerry and Olive were his whole world, and he was happy making sure that they were happy.  Michael will be truly missed by us all.

God bless you Michael, may you rest in peace.

Kerry & John O’Halloran and the Reilly family