“And you heard WE lost John?” was how the news broke of Daddy’s passing amongst our community in Doorus and further afield. ‘WE’ being the operative word, and a testament to the high esteem in which he was held.
As the messages of condolences poured in from near and far, everyone agreed that the ‘rock of our community is gone’. A man full of honour and integrity, who loved to chat to people, offering words of wisdom from a life well lived. Daddy impacted on the lives of many, and as the days of his funeral unfolded, stories which we will cherish forever were revealed, confirming him as a man of hard work, principled, respectful, kind and a leader who adapted to whatever life threw at him.
Born in 1951 to Peter and Lena Huban of Knockaculleen, Doorus, Kinvara; John was the second youngest of eight children. Throughout his life, he mirrored his parents’ example of working hard, setting a good example and being trustworthy.
John could turn his hand to anything. He started out working in Coen’s in Gort, as a lorry driver, and as he often told us ‘that you’d need a set of arms on you, as there was no power steering back then’. He worked as a self-employed building contractor for 42 years thereafter. His physical work, which is evident in many homes around South Galway and further afield, will outlive us all. In addition to the physical element of his work, his personal touch in dealing with people when they moved into the area was so important to each newcomer. As he embarked on the journey of building their house, he was their first point of contact in the community. A letter we received from a lady whose house he had built fondly said, ‘John is woven into my family’s history forever’. She spoke of his ‘patience and reasoning’ as he talked her through every new idea that she had as the house developed.
The love and centre of his life was Mammy. In 1975, he married Mammy, Mary Quinn of Moy, Kinvara and had four children, Damien, Joanne, Siobhán and Jason and from there our legacy began. Over the 44 years of their marriage, Dad set an exemplary example of how to be a good husband and father. We never wanted for anything and they both instilled a strong faith in all of us. Dad was the foundation of our family, our protector, and moral compass.
We are indebted to Galway Hospice, for the care they gave to our family
Standing tall and broad at 6ft 4” with hands of steel, he was famous for his size and strength. He was renowned for being able to lift objects single-handedly where groups of men had failed. On the pitch, his hurling prowess was evident from a young age, but really came to the fore in Kinvara’s great run in 1979 when we reached the County Senior Final. En route to that final, playing in full forward, he scored a massive 9 goals in 3 matches. Included in that was a record 5-1 from play against the then reigning champions Ardrahan. This record remains unbeaten 40 years later. He also held numerous official roles within the club, and served as Club Trustee to Kinvara GAA, a role he acted in right until the end.
Upon the news of his neuroendocrine cancer diagnoses in April 2018, our world was shattered. Remaining strong for us, and as always thinking positively, living with cancer became only one part of his life. He worked diligently with his oncology team, and with the palliative care team of the Galway Hospice. For twelve months, he remained on various building sites, overseeing work, while taking his chemotherapy. He retained a very good quality of life, and the jewel in the crown of his final year here on earth was the arrival of his sixth grandchild, Ella. He loved being a Grandad to Yvie, Michael, Anna, Miah, Oisín and Ella. He was so proud of them.
As his life drew to a close, he spent his final weeks in the Galway Hospice. Immersed in the warmth, love and spirituality of its tranquil surroundings, he was kept pain free and comfortable. For us as a family, we were guided down this unfamiliar road, with thoughtful spiritual care, and advice from its pastoral staff, David and Breda.
Grief is a powerful emotion, ever present and ever changing. We are indebted to Galway Hospice, for the care they gave to our family, as a whole, when we were at our weakest, walking down a road untraveled by us before, which none of us knew how to tread. Its staff are truly God’s angels here on earth.