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Farewell to an Irish legend

Wednesday, 22nd July, 2020 4:43pm

Big Jack.

The funeral of the former Republic of Ireland football manager took place on Tuesday in England. Large numbers of Irish supporters gathered at Walkinstown roundabout in Dublin to remember him while many people also paid tribute to him in Ballina in Mayo. They unveiled of a new mural of Charlton, which has been painted on the wall of a building overlooking the river.

He bought a house there in the early 1990s. The former World Cup winner with England threw himself into life there in the summer, often taking part in events and parades.

He was a huge figure in my life when I was younger. I don’t remember much of Euro ‘88 but the World Cup of 1990 was a huge event.

I had the jersey and watched nearly every game in the World Cup, even if some games were abandoned to go out and play football on the green.

They were innocent joyous times and Big Jack was a huge part of that.

He was loved by Irish people who seemed to like how down to earth and straight talking he was. He had no airs and graces and treated everyone the same - bar journalists who he had less patience with!

He was unusual in being a hero in two countries; he was a proud Englishman and a Word Cup winner and a very proud honorary Irishman who clearly cherished his team as manager of the national team.

He transformed Irish football and his legacy continues after so many clubs were created up and down the country after Ireland reached successive World Cup knockout phases and a Euros.

The Irish team now boasts players from all over the country, rather than being a Dublin-centric entity with a few from Cork and other areas.

Big Jack was familiar to many Cork kids for another reason too. There he was, sitting in his fishing gear whenever you went to Cork Airport.

He perched on the edge of the fountain in the old terminal, as large as life and nearly as memorable.

Truly, we may never see his likes again.

Rest well Jack.

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