Tony Devenney obituary: Followed in father’s footsteps as a postman

Motorcycling and angling enthusiast ‘enjoyed the simple things in life’

Tony Devenney enjoyed fishing on Lough Ennell and Lough Owel.

Tony Devenney enjoyed fishing on Lough Ennell and Lough Owel.

 

This article is one of a series about people who have died with coronavirus in Ireland and among the diaspora. Read more at irishtimes.com/covid-19-lives-lost. If you would like a friend or family member included in the series, please email liveslost@irishtimes.com

Anthony (Tony) Devenney

1949-2020

Anthony (Tony) Devenney was a motorbike man. A “wild card from the day he was born, the minute he was old enough he saved his money and got a motorbike”, says his daughter Fiona.

He used to race in Mondello and had the scars to prove it, including breaking both his thumbs.

But marriage and motorbikes do not mix and when he met his future wife Colette Garland “the bikes had to go”. They were replaced by cars in a rainbow of colours, including a canary yellow Vauxhall Chevette and Mini Countryman.

Born in June 1949 in Lifford, Co Donegal, Tony was the eldest of five siblings. Monica, Danny and Brendan survive him while their sister Helen, who had Down syndrome, died in 2016.

When he was two the family moved back to Mullingar, his mother Mary’s home town and where he grew up. He worked for time as a healthcare assistant in Stewart’s hospital in Palmerstown, Dublin, but then followed in his father Hughie’s footsteps as a postman.

He even did the same route in the townland of Gaybrook outside Mullingar that his father had covered years earlier on a bicycle.

Tony’s route “used to take him the whole day and half the night because he was always stopping, especially with elderly people and going in to check up on them”, having cups of tea and slices of apple tart along the way.

He met Colette in the Lake County nightclub in Mullingar, part of the hotel of the same name, no longer in existence.

When they married, they moved into Lynn Heights, Mullingar, in 1979, the year Pope John Paul came to Ireland. The couple had two daughters, Fiona and Lorraine.

“Daddy had lifelong faith and nurtured ours by bringing us to Saturday night vigil Mass at seven o’clock in the cathedral where we would sit in the same seat under the pulpit,” Fiona says.

He loved his holidays to his beloved Donegal, trips to visit his sister Monica and brother-in-law Owen on the Navan Road in Dublin, his fishing on Lough Ennell or Lough Owel and a pint with his brothers in the Roadhouse in Mullingar.

The simple things in life made Tony happy. “When the four of us were out on Ennell in the boat with a flask and sandwiches he was as rich as a king,” his daughter says.

He loved Irish music and played the mouth organ, always the same two Irish airs. “He loved these two tunes but he’d wreck everybody’s head and it was a running joke that we used to hide the mouth organ if we were going to family occasions.”

His only trip abroad, apart from visits to London to see his daughter Lorraine, a nurse, was a holiday in Sitges, Spain.

But mobility became an issue and then aged 66 he was diagnosed with dementia. Colette cared for him at home for as long as possible. But in January 2018 he moved into Newbrook Lodge nursing home in Mullingar where his family says he received wonderful care and where in June 2019 he celebrated his 70th birthday with a party.

Tony tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, April 13th, the day after his daughter Lorraine got the same diagnosis in London. He died the following Saturday, April 18th.

“He was comfortable at 3.30pm and gone at 8.30pm.” Lorraine could only watch the funeral from afar on the Mullingar cathedral webcam.

Ironically the social-distancing restrictions meant he had a “small, no-fuss funeral that would’ve suited Daddy’s personality down to the ground”.

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