Any man brave enough to call one of his lovely daughters, Valentine, is surely a romantic.But, Tommy “Fingers” Gallagher, Ballyshannon’s feisty force of nature and its finest living legend has the soul of a bard, the strength of a lion killer and a tongue that could charm the hinges off Heaven.
“Fingers” is that rare avis, a dealer and a dreamer, a wordsmith and weaver of dreams, a man who loves to entertain and be entertained.
When he was young and truly magnificent, he won the heart of his lady in London and swaggered in the finest Crombie.
His people, the Gallagher’s were great cattlemen and the young “Fingers” roamed the roads of Ireland, with a song in his heart, a rapier wit and a love of Robbie Burns.
One man and his dog, Tommy Fingers Gallagher PICTURE: THOMAS GALLAGHER
He also had a great love of nature, for all kinds of animals, a man who was always a sweeper up of strays, whose home was always open to the needy, but never to the greedy
And it was from his mother’s people, the Lawn's, that he got his gra for poetry and song and anyone who has met him will be given some really pithy pieces on life’s many little ironies.
There are very few people in Ballyshannon or indeed all over Donegal who have not heard some of his timeless one-liners.
For “Fingers” life is a gift given to be tasted through the teeth, take it and shake for we are only here for a while and he never thought that money was the measure of a man…. or woman.
He is, by temperament a socialist an egalitarian with a true heart of a maverick who has always lived in and for the moment.
It is true that the greatest gift a man or woman can give is life.
Well his sunny spirit lives in his family, he gave them a love of life, song, drama and story and their native land.
He taught them to always stand on their own two feet and others could admire, accept or shun the view.
Anyone calling in to Tommy and Claire’s home in Cluain Barron is treated like a Gaelic chief and he has some wonderful mementoes that reflect his wide interest in poetry, nature, various arts and crafts and a real good whiskey.
I remember being at the funeral of a man who, like “Fingers” had the winning ways of a maverick with a heart of gold, a man that Fingers and his family cared for when he would be unwell.
When the coffin was being laid down and the all the prayers were said, Fingers gave one of the shortest but wittiest graveside orations yet.
“May you rest in peace, for you were a gentleman and there are not many of us left”.
Truly, there are not many men like the silver tongued, rich voiced Tommy ‘Fingers” Gallagher, the eternal rebel heart who never looked up or down on any man.
Long may you reign a chomradai!
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