Lives Lost to Covid-19: Rodney and Margaret Reid helped young people avoid drugs and crime

Couple died within two weeks of each other after 65 years of marriage

 Thomas and Margaret Reid helped set up and run the Donore Boxing Club near the St Teresa’s Gardens flat complex in Dublin

Thomas and Margaret Reid helped set up and run the Donore Boxing Club near the St Teresa’s Gardens flat complex in Dublin

 

This article is one of a series about people who have died with coronavirus in Ireland and among the diaspora. You can read more of them here. If you would like a friend or family member included in the series, please email liveslost@irishtimes.com

Thomas (Rodney) Reid 
1936 - 2021

 

Margaret Reid 
1938 - 2021

From the early 1970s, Thomas (Rodney) Reid and his wife Margaret helped set up and run the Donore Boxing Club near the St Teresa’s Gardens flat complex in Dublin, a south inner city facility that would offer countless young people a distraction from the crime and drug addiction that took an unrelenting grip on the area.

“A lot of kids went one way and a few he saved. This club was on the ground floor of a block of flats. It wasn’t equipped for anything but he made it what it was,” says Selwyn Hess, a family friend, and one of many in the community who valued the couple’s contribution.

After 65 years of marriage, Rodney (85) and Margaret (née Taylor) (83) died within two weeks of each other. Rodney’s funeral procession passed his old club. Some of the family got to go inside.

“Rest in peace to a legend of a man,” said a post on its Facebook page.

The Reids met a long time ago in Margaret’s native Birmingham before settling in Dublin. They had 14 children and carved out a life in the city community.

Rodney would go on to be honoured at Dublin’s Mansion House for his work. All the while, Margaret worked tirelessly in the background; everything from administration work to washing the boxing gear. She wrote letters to arrange tournaments and helped organise posters.

Irish champions

“[St] Theresa’s Gardens was probably one of the biggest heroin hubs back in the day and he set up this boxing club to deter kids from being on the street. And they produced Irish champions hand over fist,” Hess says.

The couple became ill over Christmas. Margaret had gone into an induced coma before her husband’s death but never recovered. In the end, neither one was aware the other had died.

On the day Rodney’s remains were brought to Francis Street Church, balloons were released in the air near their last home on South New Street in Dublin 8.

Hess recalls the chains coming off the church gates and being put back on again once the strictly limited number of mourners had passed through. Much of this extensive inner city family, with grandchildren and great grandchildren, were left outside.

“I would say if this Covid wasn’t here it would have been as big a funeral as you could get,” Hess said. “They were that well respected.”

Covid-19: Lives Lost

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