by ehistoryadmin on October 19, 2019

Leinster Leader 15 March 1986

Late Mr. James Behan

The death took place recently after a lengthy illness in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Athy, of Mr. James (Jimmy) Behan, 25 Pacelli Road, Naas. Aged 79, he was a very popular and respected figure in the town. Native of Naas, he was reared at the Harbour and his home stood where the coalyard is located. He joined the newly founded Free State Army in 1922 at the age of 16, and served for a number of years before going onto the reserve. He rejoined the regular army when the Emergency was declared, and served throughout it.

Afterwards, he joined the Board of Works and was located in the Curragh, and later in Devoy Barracks, Naas. He retired about 10 years ago. He was then free to devote himself totally to his major interest. For nearly 30 years Jimmy had been the owner of a “wonder donkey”, “Patsy”. He raced at donkey derbys throughout the county and farther afield. Jimmy used to claim the donkey was never beaten, and no one dared contradict him. Patsy had an unusual attribute for a donkey. For that breed of animal he was a “miller,” and did not need stick or carrot to leave the opposition foundering behind him, or still at the start line.

When Patsy, in his heyday, was running at a donkey derby, he was “money on”. His rider, for many of his achievements was Jimmy’s nephew, Patsy. Jimmy himself was always on hand to make sure his donkey was best turned out in the field, and to give expert advice. The donkey’s fame spread afar and was the subject of newspaper articles, including one in this paper’s Punchestown supplement. Up to the time of his last illness, Jimmy cared for the donkey in a manner similar to top racehorses. He was a familiar for years at the dispensary grazing Patsy. Now aged 27, Patsy had not been raced for years, but is still looked after as a cherished pet by the Behan family.

Jimmy’s other great passion was horseracing, and like a true Naas man he maintained his interest in the “nags” right up to the end.

Remains were removed to the parish church in Naas. There was a concelebrated Requiem Mass before the funeral, with Dr. Ryan, the Coadjutor Bishop, the chief celebrant, with Very Rev. Fr. Moling Lennon, P.P., and Frs. O’Connell and Byrne, C.C’s. There was a huge attendance at the removal and funeral which took place to St. Corban’s cemetery, Naas.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; sons, John, Thomas, Seamus, Anthony (all Naas), and Patrick (Monasterevan); daughter, Marie (Naas); brothers, Billie and Arthur (Naas); sisters, Mary (Naas) and Margaret (Dublin) and by nieces, nephews and grandchildren, and daughters-in-law.



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