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04 Oct 2022

Tributes paid to ‘an icon of Newcastle West town’

Tributes paid to ‘an icon of Newcastle West town’

“HE WAS a great character, a great conversationalist. An icon of Newcastle West town.”

That’s how former publican Jimmy Lee has been remembered by the leader of Newcastle West’s municipal district Michael Collins upon his sad passing.

Warm tributes have been paid to the businessman and horse-racing fanatic, and it’s clear he is missed by so many people across the community.

Jimmy ran Lee’s Bar in Newcastle West and grew up at Lee’s Cross in Ballingarry.

But there is so much more to say about a man who lived until just after his 87th birthday.

“He was quite a character,” acknowledged his sister Mary Lee-Geary.

“He would have been a very easy person. Always great with people, and particularly the next generation. He had a great bond with youngsters all his life, and he was very attached to his grandchildren,” she added.

The love felt for Jimmy across the generations was evident from the number of people who have approached the Lee family since his death, with Mary saying: “He’d sit outside the door for his last number of years, and the number of people who have said to me they miss seeing him is incredible. He was the mainstay of The Square. People young and old would chat with him. Everybody would all have a word with him passing up and down.”

Although the Lees are a football family – his son Billy leading Limerick’s Gaelic football team – it brought him so much joy to see the hurlers win their third straight All-Ireland title.

Despite he not being very well, Mary said he was determined to “stay up to the very end” and watch John Kiely’s charges defeat Kilkenny.

But it’s horse-racing which was Jimmy’s big passion.

“He was one of the great gamblers,” said his sister. “He never missed Listowel, he never missed Cheltenham. He once said he was at every racecourse in Ireland. That was his greatest achievement. But he was always up and down to Paddy Power’s!"

On his 87th birthday which took place on July 6 last, Jimmy placed a bet on a horse that had his nephew – jockey Billy Lee – in the saddle.

It won of course!

“Jimmy loved nothing better than the challenge of a bet. He’d win, and he’d lose,” said Mary.

Appropriately, in his final days, Jimmy placed another wager on a horse that went on to win. It was almost like his life was complete at that point.

He passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on July 27, 2022.

The husband of the late Mary, he’s deeply regretted by his family, Margaret, Billy Joe, Mary and Jimmy, as well as his sisters Breda Walsh, Mary Lee-Geary, Ann Raleigh and Margaret Lee. Also missed by extended family and a wide circle of friends.

May he rest in peace.

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