The death has taken place of James O'Donnell
In towns full of characters, Ardara and Ballyshannon has sadly lost another one in the passing of James “Jimmy” O'Donnell of Creevy.
For, throughout his rich and full life he was a man of great character and was also a real character.
The Ardara native was a man of many passions, his family, his business for which he had a great head, all types of sports and he was an expert at verbal volleyball.
He played Gaelic football for Ardara, was a mentor and club official and his heart never left his native heath even when worked in London.
But you needed to be at yourself to go toe to toe with Jimmy in the field of wit and he had some mighty one-liners for all occasions.
He is perhaps best known for the famous O’Donnell’s Bakery which he ran along with his brothers Edward and Tommy for many years.
Through exceptional hard work and great business acumen the O’Donnells built up their business to be one the best known in the north west.
And though he was s director Jimmy liked nothing better than being in the thick of the action in the bakery where he enjoyed the banter and bonhomie.
Their bakery sponsored many Aodh Ruadh teams and trophies and both of Jimmy’s sons Frankie and James were involved with Aodh Ruadh.
James played for and managed Aodh Ruadh while Frankie was a major figure in Ballyshannon Rugby Club while Siobhan, Mairead, Esther and Emer have all inherited the entrepreneurial spirit that also was a big part of their late mother Esther.
Jimmy was also heavily involved with local darts and was chairman of the local leagues for a period.
He had an exceptionally generous spirit and once gave Daniel O’Donnell a large sum for the Romanian orphans and quietly helped many of the less fortunate.
Jimmy loved all sports, his own Ardara, Aodh Ruadh, Donegal and the Irish soccer and rugby teams and had a special soft spot for Manchester United.
Jimmy was the eternal entrepreneur and could spot an opportunity.
He loved to entertain and be entertained.
And he certainly enriched south Donegal and anyone who was lucky enough to meet up with him for he was always the same and treated all the same.
Codladh sámh a chomrádaí
In a tribute on their Facebook page, Aodh Ruadh posted:
“Aodh Ruadh extends our sincere sympathies on the passing of Jimmy O'Donnell last night.
“Our thoughts are with the whole O'Donnell clan, their extended family and friends at this sad time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.”
Meanwhile his native club Ardara paid this tribute: “The Club received the sad news...from Ballyshannon of the death of Jimmy O Donnell, Front Street. Jimmy was a former player, Club Treasurer (1970-71), Under-Age manager through the 1960s, and a mentor on the 1970 Junior Championship winning team with Joe Larry and Charlie Mooney.
“Despite moving to Ballyshannon in 1972, he always remained a proud Ardara supporter, and would always be waiting at the dressing room with his smiling face at Fr Tierney Park when our Teams would arrive to play Aodh Rua in the 80s and 90s, before he suffered ill health.
“Along with his brother Edward, Jimmy received the Charlie Bennett Hall of Fame Award in 2017 for his outstanding service to the Club.
“He will forever be remembered as a great Ardara man and Gael. We offer our deepest sympathy to daughters, Siobhan, Esther Mairéad and, Emer, sons, James and Frankie, brothers, Edward, Tommy, Francis, sister Rosemary and the extended O’Donnell family.”
He was predeceased by his wife, Esther.
Private Requiem Mass will take place on Wednesday, in Saint Patrick's Church, Ballyshannon, at 11am, followed by interment in Abbey Cemetery. Due to HSE and government guidelines, the family home and cemetery are private to family only. Mass can be viewed on https://www.churchservices.tv/stpatricksballyshannon
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