Tony Toher

An Appreciation

 

Anthony (Tony) Toher, MPSI, died on December 13th, 2016, at the age of 96. A dedicated Sligonian, he brought great enthusiasm to his work as a pharmacist as well as to many local initiatives.

Tony was born on June 8th, 1920, in Rosses Point, Co Sligo. He attended Summerhill College and Clongowes Wood College in Co Kildare. Unfortunately, he fell ill and his family brought him back home for healing. He continued with private tuition and dedicated his recovery to celebrating active life for the rest of his days.

Tony studied pharmacy in Dublin and trained in retail pharmacy in London. On returning to Sligo, in the late 1940s, he established a pharmacy on O’Connell Street, Sligo. He brought to Tohers’ chemist all the latest thinking: displaying all non-dispensing items on open accessible shelving, establishing a perfumery counter, and a same-day photo development service which hired out cameras for family events. He most enjoyed the business management of Tohers, where he computerised the operation long before others did. Tony retired from retailing in 1988 and the business remains under its original name.

He was a founder member of Sligo Film Society in 1942. A keen photographer, he founded the Sligo Photography Club in 1951. He exhibited a selection of photographs in Sligo called “The Yeats Country”. This term was adopted by Dr TR Henn (a native of Sligo who was adviser of Sligo’s first Yeats International Summer School) and has since become the tourism and international byword for Sligo. In addition, Tony was an active member of the Yeats Society and president of the Sligo Field Club.

Tony supported the late Nora Niland, Sligo county librarian, as she assembled what is now the largest public collection of Jack Butler Yeats paintings outside of the National Gallery, Dublin. Through his friendship with James White, administrator of the Havery Trust, Tony secured five paintings for Sligo library. These formed the nucleus of the now Niland Gallery and proved to be a stimulus for Nora Niland to continue to build the collection, with the support of Sligo business people.

He had many interests. With the help of his friend Billy Tamplin, in the early 1950s, he competed on his Norton 500cc in the annual Isle of Man Grand Prix. His book Exploring Sligo and North Leitrim Walks, The Yeats Country, published in 1984, was the fruit of nearly 60 years of rambling the hills of Sligo, remains the definitive guide. And his work for the preservation of the North Sligo Armada sites at Streedagh Beach was recognised in 1997 when he was made an honorary associate member of Las Associaciones de la Armada Invencible, La Coruna, Spain. Tony introduced water skiing to Lough Gill – making his own timber skis – and was a founder member of the Sligo Water Ski Club. He was an active sailor all his days, being a member of Sligo Yacht Club and the Irish Cruising Club.

For many years he was involved in the Sligo Chamber of Commerce, becoming its president in 1979/80; and was also involved in the Sligo Tourist Development Association.

He had a rich and deep spiritual life. He was, for many years, an ardent Buddhist, but in his later years, he returned to the Roman Catholicism of his youth.

Tony was vibrant, ever active and seemed ever young.

He was predeceased by his sister Hilda (Keaveney). He is survived by his wife Ray (Rachael), his niece Tracy Elston, his step-daughters Denise Murphy (Drogheda), Bernie Mooney (Dublin), Alison O’Neill (Celbridge), their children and grandchildren.