Close to 300 raise toast to ‘our absent hero, Neville Furlong’ at Limerick event

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Odran, Kyle and Trish Furlong at the Night for Neville Picture: Dave Gaynor

Odran, Kyle and Trish Furlong at the Night for Neville Picture: Dave Gaynor

IT IS rare that a dinner dance sells out, rarer still that there wasn’t a ticket to be got a month in advance.

But it makes perfect sense when you hear it was in memory of the late and great Neville Furlong. Exactly 271 people packed in to the Castletroy Park Hotel on Saturday for a night for Neville to celebrate his life. 

And what a life he led until it was tragically cut short just over a year ago from cancer. Neville passed away in Milford Hospice aged 49. The former Irish rugby international, Garryowen FC player and coach, GAA  trainer, army captain, family man and lots more left behind a legacy.

One that close personal friends Frank O’Connell and John O’Callaghan wanted to mark. They could have sold hundreds more tickets such was the demand to honour the memory of the Wexford man who lived in Castleconnell.

Frank said it was sold-out a month in advance.

“I had a waiting list. People were begging us to squeeze them in because they wanted to be there. It wasn’t actually advertised. It was on Facebook. Our plan was that anybody who was there heard about it through word of mouth and came to us looking to go. There were people from the army, business, retirement village, rugby, locals and, of course, his family. It was such a diverse mix of the community – it was amazing,” said Frank.

Neville’s late wife, Trish, set the tone for the evening.

“It was celebratory, very upbeat. Trish made a little speech at the very start of the night, she raised a toast to ‘our absent hero, Neville’ and that set a great tone for the evening. We played a photo montage of Neville through the years for 10 minutes. Luka Bloom graced us with his presence for half an hour and played some songs. Local band Free Beer rounded off the night,” said Frank.

Luka’s friendship with Neville says a lot about the man who scored a try against New Zealand.

“Neville was friendly with Luka Bloom’s son. Luka came to visit Neville in hospital in his final few weeks. That visit was very special to Luka, he couldn’t get it out of his head, they sang songs together in the hospital. When he head about this event he wanted to come along and be part of the night,” said Frank.

While the final figure hasn’t been totted up yet Milford Hospice will be getting a cheque for over €17,000.

Frank wished to thank Liam Toland, MC, all the staff in the Castletroy Park Hotel and the Furlong family for allowing them to celebrate the life of Neville.

See page 42 of L2 for more photographs of the night