‘Three Card Trick Man’ laid to rest in Limerick

Thousands from Travelling community head to Limerick to pay respects to late 81-year-old

Three Card Trick Man Charlie Clarke plies his trade during Ladies Day at the Galway Races in 2011. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Three Card Trick Man Charlie Clarke plies his trade during Ladies Day at the Galway Races in 2011. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 16:50

Charlie “The Great” Clarke stopped traffic in his hometown of Limerick for the final time as seven horse-drawn carriages and a dozen sulkies escorted his coffin to his final resting place.

Thousands from the Travelling community, from home and abroad, journeyed to Limerick to pay their respects to the 81-year-old sometimes known as the “King of the Travellers”.

His niece, Joanne Clarke remarked: “It’s a sad time for all the family, but we are also remembering Charlie as a great character. He was known for causing traffic jams when he was on the road with his horses, and he did it one last time on his final journey; we all smiled at that.”

Mr Clarke will be fondly remembered as the Three Card Trick Man who annually wowed crowds at the Galway Races and festivals the length and breath of Ireland with his card skills.

Dozens of men took it in turns to carry the gold-plated casket carrying his remains from St Patricks Church, Dublin Road to Mount St Oliver Cemetery.

“We laid a huge wreath at the grave which said, ‘Charlie Clarke lived and died everybody’s friend,” added his niece.

“His family won’t forget him and neither will the Travelling and settled communities that knew him. We had a tremendous celebration of his life. He got a great send-off. There were definitely more than a thousand people here. They came from England and all over Ireland,” she added.

Charlie’s roulette wheel, which he was never without when travelling to and from festivals, was laid at his graveside, as were other symbols of his life including floral tributes of a horse and trap.

“He was also known as ‘Charlie The Legend’ and he was respected by everyone. He loved horses and people. He’d a great sense of humour; he would always tell me, whenever I asked him his age, that he was 63,” Ms Clarke said.

Born in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, Charlie settled in a house in Rhebogue, Limerick, about 30 years ago.

According to his niece, Mr Clarke was buried just a day before the 20th anniversary of the death of his son Mikey, who drowned in the Canal Bank, Limerick.

He was laid to rest alongside his late wife Winnie and their son.