Posted August 17, 2015
Yesterday, the club was shocked to learn of the tragic loss of one of our own, Govan Jolliffe-Byrne. All of us here in Naomh Mearnóg express our deepest condolences to his family, his mother Elaine, father Bob, brothers Peadar, Finn & Aidan plus extended family and friends.
Govan joined the club in 2008 having arrived from South Africa with his family. Immediately, Gov settled into the club and the community. He was part of a successful underage football team,which won an U16 Football Division 2 League medal in 2012. In 2013, Gov was one of the leaders of this team that reached the Minor Football Division 1 League Final.
Last year, his transition into the adult ranks was seamless. Govan represented both Senior and Junior footballers, despite still only sitting his Leaving Cert. Gov won an U21 C Football Championship medal earlier this season. It was a special win for Gov and the team as they all had a very close bond from their days of playing underage football together. He had become an important member of those adult teams, as that mischievous twinkle in his eyes and unique wit endeared him to all, no matter what their age. Without us realising it, he became an integral part of what made being part of the club so special and enjoyable.
Govan’s talents were not limited to Gaelic Football. He represented Portmarnock AFC at underage soccer and was also a member of Portmarnock Chess Club. He attended Portmarnock Community School where he excelled both academically and in the sporting fields. Gov represented their GAA and athletics teams with great distinction. Govan’s outstanding Leaving Certificate results meant he went onto NUI Maynooth to study Computational Thinking. He also worked as a bar man in the local PSLC and was a very popular member of staff. Gov really was an all-rounder and we are sure each one of these separate groups are feeling the same loss that we are right now.
This summer Govan travelled to where his heart was, Africa. When he talked of Africa, where he spent so much of his formative years, he spoke with such passion and love. He returned to South Africa with many of his friends through a Transition Year project in Portmarnock Community School, where again he touched the hearts of many adults and students from both Ireland and South Africa. He spoke of his desires to sit with silver backs gorillas in Uganda and to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. He had maturity and wisdom beyond his mere 20 years, yet he still somehow managed to maintain a youthful enthusiasm that just drew people in. This is what made Govan so special and unique.
Govan, it is still hard to believe that we won’t be seeing that glint in your eye, that pep in your step and that cheeky smile ever again. It is impossible to put into words what you meant to us here in Naomh Mearnóg but there is one thing we can all agree on, whenever we think of you Gov, you will always bring a smile to our faces.
You truly were one in a million Govan Jolliffe-Byrne.
Beidh Govan in ár gcróithe go deo.
Naomh Mearnóg GAA club