Barry Geoghegan's Memory Honoured

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The Nationalist- 28th October 2014

Barry’s memory honoured at Carlow’s twin city in Arizona
By Charlie Keegan

The links forged between Carlow town and its twin city of Tempe in Arizona were highlighted ina hugely positive manner over a weekend in October.  The city in America’s southwest honoured the memory of the late Barry Geoghegan, Wexford Road, Ballinacarrig, who was part of the 2004 exchange between Carlow and Tempe.

Barry, the youngest in a family of five children of Tom and Marian Geoghegan, passed away suddenly in his Dublin apartment on 22 December 2006, his death attributed to sudden cardiac death/sudden adult death syndrome, which claims the lives of approximately 100 Irish people each year.

Just two weeks short of his 20th birthday, Barry was preparing to come home to Carlow for Christmas when his sudden death occurred.  His passing caused enormous shock throughout the Carlow community.

The 19 year old who had captained Eire Og to the Carlow minor football championship in 2005, had begun work with the Whitehall branch of Bank of Ireland in Dublin the September before his death.

The Geoghegan family kept Barry’s memory very much alive through the establishment of a trust in his name.  Its primary aim was to provide defibrillators as a possible life-saving measure against sudden cardiac death.  The cost of a defibrillator, an alarmed cabinet to hold it and the provision of trained personnel in the use of the equipment, amounts to about €2,500.00.  More than 50 defibrillators have been supplied by the Barry Geoghegan Trust.  They have been provided to schools, sports clubs, communities and voluntary bodies throughout County Carlow.

The trust also made donations to the Irish Heart Foundation and has supported Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), which provides screening for families affected by sudden cardiac death.  In recent times, the trust has been wound down and the remaining funds of €1,700 given to Cardiac Risk in the Young.

As part of the 2004 Tempe Sister Cities exchange with Carlow, Barry was a member of the Carlow group, and his outgoing personality, sense of fun, wit and charm made a big impression on his American host family and on the people in Tempe associated with the exchange programme.

The Tempe ten-year reunion took place from Friday to Sunday 10-12 October.  On the Saturday night, the reunion dinner was held in Barry’s name, with proceeds going towards a memorial to him.

Then, on the Sunday morning, there was the planting of a tree as a permanent memorial to Barry in the Tempe Sister Cities Garden at one of the Arizona city’s largest parks called Kiwanis.  Not far from Barry’s tree is a row of plaques and boulders with the names from every Tempe Sister Cities delegation, including the Carlow man’s name on the plaque dedicated to the 2004 group.

Everyone had written notes to Barry or his parents on coloured cards, which were all hung on his tree for the ceremony.  A special memorial plaque to Barry is to be placed at the base of his tree, with appropriate wording and bearing his photograph.

Delegates at the reunion also made a donation to Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, where Barry’s nephew Ari is currently receiving treatment.

The first spring after Barry’s passing, his family planted a magnolia tree in his memory in their garden at Ballincarrig. His nephews and nieces, when playing in the garden refer to it as ‘Barry’s tree’, and on visits to his grave in St Mary’s Cemetery refer tohis grave as ‘Barry’s garden’.

The Geoghegan family has expressed deep appreciation for the manner in which Barry has been honoured by the Tempe Sisters Cities exchange and extends particular thanks to Heather Nyhart, Barry’s friend who did all of the co-ordinating between Carlow and Tempe in relation to the honouring of Barry in the Arizona city.

The link between Carlow and Tempe was formally established in 1998, with local historian Michael Purcell and community activist Bernard Jennings to the fore at the Carlow end.  Rick Whelan from Carlow travelled to the United States for the ten-year reunion in Tempe.  Barry had three sisters – Emma, Laura and Ciara – and one brother, Padraic.  He is greatly missed by his loving family, aunts, uncles, cousins and especially his brothers-in-law, nephews and nieces.

Barry Geoghegan