Andrew Maher

 

Everyone who met Andy liked him. He was outgoing and friendly, a good companion, a little larger than life. His sense of humour and mischief was tempered by an innate civility and integrity. He was 56 when he died on September 9th.

The scenes come flooding back. We first met in our diningroom, which had been turned, by the simple use of a red bulb, into a tiny ballroom for my sister's party. Andy was part of the canoeing section of the Espoir Youth Club in Mount Merrion, while I ran the dances in its sister organisation "The Barn". We studied together for the bank exams in an academy in St Stephen's Green under a tutor rejoicing in the name A.H. Sparkhall Brown. Neither of us made the bank, but we became firm friends.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the group expanded until there was a regular gang. We went to Achill Island, Roundstone and Kerry on holiday weekends. We partied in The Intercontinental Hotel and Elizabeth's. We travelled to America and to Austria for skiing, where Andy managed to hit a car while sliding down the nursery slope.

Some gregarious people can be wearisome, but Andy oozed charm and courtesy. He loved meeting new people, whether a fisherman in Mayo, a policemen in Nashville or a customer in Tokyo. He was well-read, inquisitive and, that rare thing, a good listener. So he was ready-made for the job that he worked in up to the end - as an international salesman. He travelled the Far East, America and South Africa selling mechanical handling equipment. He had a unique bass voice and those who heard his rendition of Jesus Wants Me for a Moonbeam were rarely left unmoved. Or were given the choice.

When he learned, late last year, that his illness was terminal, he bore the news with the great courage that Hemingway described as "grace under pressure". He made no complaint and showed that strength of character of which heroes are made. If there is any consolation in his going, it is in the fact that he had time to say goodbye properly to his beloved wife, Kathleen, and see his three adored children, Cillian, Ailbhe and Doireann, reach maturity.

May he rest in peace. He was a good and decent man, and we all loved him.

B.B.