Michael Farrell, class '37
Dr. Michael Farrell or “Doc” was born in Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, educated at Castleknock College along with his brother Tom and qualified in Medicine in RCSI in 1943. An uncle, Martin Farrell from the family home in Borris-in-Ossory was also at ‘Knock 1894-95 and a grand uncle of these Borris-in-Ossory Farrell’s emigrated to the US and was father of the famous golfer Johnny Farrell who won the US Open in 1928 and represented the US in three successive Ryder Cup campaigns – 1927, 1929 and 1931.
After internship Michael joined The Royal Naval Volunteer reserve and soon saw action in the English Channel as ships surgeon on board RNVR Monowai, assisting casualties extracted from the Normandy landings in 1944. Later, after the allied invasion of Europe was underway he was posted to Singapore to act as Port Medical Officer following the Japanese surrender. Returning to Ireland he undertook post graduate study in Public Health and following appointments in Kilkenny and Kerry, was posted to Leitrim where he was to remain for the rest of his life.
For some, a posting to Leitrim in the 1950’s with its declining population, poor roads and absence of industry might have been seen as akin to a posting to the Russian Tundra. However he, along with several pals most notably Bill Child, Tom Maher [SVC class '56], Brendan Lynch and Sean Hanahoe but including many other Carrick-on-Shannon stalwarts recognised the potential of the Shannon for leisure and tourism. A local branch of the newly formed IWAI was soon established. Meetings were held on a regular basis in The Bush Hotel. Rallies were planned. The potential of a re-opened Ballinamore – Ballyconnell was not appreciated until many years later because the burning issue of the late 50’s and early 60’s was to restore the Knockvicar Lock entrance to Lough Key, which was duly accomplished.
Among the earliest boat hire companies attracted to Carrick was Mitchel Marine run by Cliff & Gill Hogg who were prominent in the local IWAI. For several years “Doc” served as Able Seaman on board “Sampan” under the command of Bill Child. The two would disappear each year for The Shannon Boat Rally - efforts to contact either were fruitless. No cell phones. The Doc’s ever patient wife Mary would trawl the length of the Shannon with culinary delights for the two wandering sailors, usually to no avail. Nothing changed when a few years later The Doc commanded his own vessel - a Freeman 22 aptly named “Monowai”. On one occasion, Mary managed to leave some delicious lamb chops on board. Unfortunately, rather than putting the chops into the rudimentary fridge, Doc placed the lamb chops in a locker together with his Rally closing dinner “good clothes” where all were discovered several days later after a neighbouring boater complained of the odour emanating from “Monowai”.
The years went quickly by and unfortunately the Doc had died before the Ballinamore Ballyconnell canal was officially re-opened in 1994 as the Shannon-Erne Waterway. Devoted to the Shannon, one of Doc’s favourite pastimes was to sit in Dromod Harbour on a summers evening looking out at the broad expanse of Lough Bofin frequently to witness the grounding of boats whose unwary skippers had decided to cut inside the black mark located at the southern tip of Derrycarne. His love of the Shannon continues in the lives of his three children – Michael, Anne Marie Brody and Gillian Daly, all boat owners and members of the Carrick-on-Shannon Boat Club together with his many grandchildren who are regular visitors to the Shannon in general and Carrick in particular. Michael Farrell died March 23rd 1990 and his remains are buried together with those of his wife Mary in The Parish Cemetery in Mohill, Co. Leitrim.
Requiescat in Pace