Gerry Hickey – An Appreciation

Wise and genial man with a gift for music

Gerry Hickey: served for many years as treasurer of the Irish Kennel Club

The hands of Gerry Hickey, who died on April 18th, 2018, held many talents. As a boy in Fermoy he crafted canoes and fishing rods with his father; he could make and mend anything out of near-nothing.

The gift of music underscored his life, and he harboured ambitions to be a conductor. He taught himself piano, playing first by ear and, later, through the grades; at a singsong, no matter how many octaves the Rose of Tralee occupied, he could always accompany her. On retirement, his clarinet introduced him to the Greystones Orchestra, where he found untold joy and generous friendships, and his annual highlights were the Proms and the National Brass Band Championships in London.

Having been nudged away from a musical career, Gerry joined the National Bank (later the Bank of Ireland) as a junior. At 19, in 1949, he moved to the Limerick branch within days of Frances Daly, whose magnetism reached him at the far end of a long counter. Their married life started in Drumshanbo, in 1954, and his career brought them from Claremorris to Kells; Longford to Marino; Ennis to College Green; and retiring in 1989 from Raheny to Enniskerry. His instinct and intellect saw him rise through bank ranks, as an inspector and branch manager, and he soon learned how to judge the probability of a loan being repaid.

“In my day,” he was fond of saying, “the clever fellows weren’t the ones lending the most money. They were the ones who got it back.”


Throughout all the transfers Gerry and Frances had the constancy of each other, and their five children: David, Carolyn, Howard, Andrew and Joyce. They were quick to adapt to new places, and to forge friendships of great depth and breadth by joining choirs, clubs and committees that reflected their many interests; Gerry served for many years as treasurer of the Irish Kennel Club, and his long term on the committee of the Bank of Ireland Third World Fund was a source of great pride.

Their shared love of dogs led them into the show ring as breeders, exhibitors, breed club officers, stewards and judges. Gerry’s keen eyes and gentle hands were in frequent demand and he and Frances discovered that the best way to cure a fear of flying was to travel to Australia for a season of dog shows.

Retirement enabled them to judge – as a representative sample – poodles in St Petersburg, terriers in Trondheim, Shih Tzus in Sydney, Vizslas in Vancouver and Mastiffs in Malacca. Frances meant everything to him and he was bereft after she died, on June 25th, 2009.

Apart from the Crosaire – and, in latter months, the Simplex – he rarely had a cross word, but he was never shy of expressing his considered opinions on the affairs of the nation. The irony of his life and death is that his big, bright heart failed him; but it never failed his family and friends, who miss his kind wisdom and calm geniality every day.

Joyce Hickey

Joyce Hickey

Joyce Hickey is an Irish Times journalist