The recent unexpected death occurred of Thomas Kilcoyne (MRCVS), late of Charlestown Rd., Tubbercurry. Aged just 78, Tommy as a quiet and un-assuming gentleman who served the farming community of South Sligo as a Vetinary Surgeon for 50 years.
Born in 1941, in the middle of a family of 8 children to parents Michael & Mary Kate Kilcoyne of Ougham, Tubbercurry, Tommy attended Primary School locally in Tubbercurry, before going to St. Nathys College, Ballaghadreen for his Post Primary Education.
It was while in St. Nathy’s College that he proved himself exceptional in many sporting and academic fields. In sport, he followed his father’s footsteps as an exceptional athlete and Gaelic footballer.
In athletics his specialist events were the 100 yard sprint 110 yard hurdles and Long jump, winning Connacht & All Ireland Medals in a variety of events in the Secondary School Competitions.
In Gaelic Football Tommy starred as marksmen on the St. Nathys College team which won the Hogan Cup in 1957 for Senior College football.
On graduating from St. Nathy’s College in 1957 he went on to study Veterinary Science in University College Dublin, again following his father’s footsteps in choice of careers. While in UCD he continued to distinguish himself both in sport and academically.
In athletics Tommy won various Irish University competitions and competed in the Catholic Student European Championships over those years in both France & Belgium where he also won various medals in his chosen events.
He proved top of his class academically also in UCD and graduated with honours in 1963. Indeed it was known that his tutors wanted him to come back to UCD as a lecturer, but circumstances intervened to prevent that happening.
Just after finished college in mid 1963, his father Mick Kilcoyne died suddenly while still a practicing vet, and Tommy made the decision as a young 22 year old graduate to take over his fathers practice which extended all over South Sligo and into parts of East Mayo. No mean task for a young man. This meant giving up his sporting career of athletics and football, a big sacrifice indeed, but the demands of work can sometimes be cruel. Tommy took to his work like a duck to water, and worked long days and nights to help farmers and their animals in need. He soon proved himself to be an exceptionally good veterinary surgeon who could diagnose and treat animals quickly and efficiently. Over his lifetime he came to know at least 3 generations of farmers on many farms. When the job at hand was finished he chatted the farmer while washing down, and getting ready for his next call. He never seemed in a hurry even though he knew other urgent calls awaited him. Those were the days when many farms had no phone in house, and no vet had a mobile phone !!!
The job of a vet was difficult in those years, as they felt they were on call all day, every day. Sick animals did not recognise week-ends, bank holidays, or even Christmas Day.
The call came in and Tommy went out, any day, anytime, decade after decade.
The business practice expanded over the years and Tommys brother Joe in due course joined the practice to help with the expanding workload. On the domestic front Tommy married Roisin, and in due course their own family brought great joy to them as they grew and developed. Eventually a third generation of vets qualified in the Kilcoyne household when Conor and Isabella graduated with Conor joining Tommy and Joe in the family practice & Isabella going to the top of her profession in the equestrian field in the U.S.A.
Tommy’s hobbies as a mature man included a bit of shooting and fishing and he owned a few very useful greyhounds & horses over the years. In co with his father in law Paddy O Connor he owned horses ‘Extra LA’ and ‘Moy Rapsody’ which brought joy and frustration in equal measures but introduced some of this children to the horse racing world.
He also enjoyed golf and was an exceptionally good Bridge player, a game he took up in later life. In the latter part of his work life he preferred to just work in the busy Spring season when calves and lambs were arriving in big numbers on the farms and he was delighted at the end of the 2013 breeding season to call it a day to his work having completed a full half century serving the farmers and animal owners of South Sligo.
Every so often a person of true talent comes into a community to serve the people, and when Tommy Kilcoyne came along in Tubbercurry, we were lucky to have him working with us and for us for a half century.
He passed away quietly and without fuss, much as he lived his life. May he rest in Peace.