It is with profound regret that Westport United announces the passing of the late Tony Browne, Farnaught, Westport, a former footballer for the club who played for one of the greatest teams ever to come out of Westport.
Tony was a Farnaught native, born just weeks after the Hindenburg disaster, the biggest newsworthy and tragic event of 1937 which would have dominated the global media at the time and grew up during The Emergency era that saw plenty of hardship due to rations and the associated socioeconomic effects of WWII that affected Ireland, while it remained neutral. The same period saw Westport United enjoying its most successful decade to date with three Connaught Cup wins during the 1940's and Tony would have been growing up as a young boy during that golden period for the club. Despite the privations of the 1940's, Tony would have found anything to keep occupied on the hills of Farnaught and it's highly likely that Tony honed his footballing skills in the village with anything he could find. After leaving school, Tony worked with Mayo County Council before moving to Newcastle to work on the building sites in the mid 1950's where his brother in law was based. Tony came home with his wife, Kathleen and took up employment locally and it was at this period that his footballing talents became recognised locally. Tony was a member of the Angelus Park local league team that was ran by Con Cusack and lit up the local scene with his goalscoring exploits. Before long, Tony was donning the Red and Black for Westport United and was part of a team that dominated the Mayo League during the 1960's. Despite breaking a leg in a cup tie in Galway, Tony never let setbacks get in the way of progress and was a regular in the great Westport United side of that era and one of the greatest sides in the history of the club, playing alongside the legendary Chris Keane and Sean McLoughlin. On the pitch, Tony would score and create goals, some spectacular and some unorthodox and Tony had a great delivery of set pieces, particularly corner kicks. Out of Tony's numerous goals for the club, his most important was undoubtedly his strike against Hoganville in the quarter final of the FAI Junior Cup in March 1969. Johnny McNally netted the winner that day. It was a golden age for Westport United and the man with golden hair contributed his weight in gold to keep the local supporters happy. However, there was one competition that evaded Tony's grasp, the Connaught Cup. Tony was still working in Newcastle when Westport United won the Blue Riband in 1961 and had retired by the time United won the competition in 1974, making him one of the greatest footballers for Westport United never to win the competition.
After Tony hung up his boots, he concentrated on the family business and the stone that was excavated in Farnaught became a fashionable product that has adorned so many properties in the area and many houses have become enhanced by the beauty that the stone added to the visual aspect.
Tony kept following the fortunes of Westport United and celebrated each and every major success. Prior to the FAI Junior Cup final back in 2005, Tony contributed to the match preview on the Western People, evoking memories of his own playing days and looking forward to the pinnacle moment of Westport football and on that famous day of June 19th 2005, Tony was in Kilkenny to see Westport United finally being crowned FAI Junior Cup Champions, 36 years after helping his team to reach the penultimate stage of the competition and a shot of playing in Dalymount Park. Like all members of the Westport United family, it was the pinnacle moment of his footballing life to see a national title coming home to the spiritual football capital of Mayo. Tony also followed the fortunes of his grandchildren wearing the Red and Black and was proud to see Darren Browne, James O'Donnell and Ian McAleer all win the Connaught U.18 Cup against Castlebar Celtic in 2010 and the following year took pride in seeing James O'Donnell captaining the U.16 team winning the Connaught Cup and Killian Browne also coming home with a winner's medal. On both occasions, Tony was photographed with his grandchildren to celebrate their achievements. Sadly in December 2011, Ian McAleer, a member of the U.18 2010 side passed away and it was a devastating time for the family and Tony would always fondly remember Ian and proudly kept the post match photo of that 2010 Connaught Cup Final with his grandchildren pride of place in his house as a tribute to his grandson.
Another proud day for Tony came in 2012 when Westport United won the Connaught Cup for the first time in 25 years and his grandson, Darren Browne was part of the successful Westport team that defeated Athenry on penalties. Tony would be a regular fixture at games and he would travel the country to see his grand kids in action and if he couldn't make a match, he would always enquire about the result and how the lads got on. He would also love to be informed about what matches were coming up.
Unfortunately, Tony's health would change in the last couple of years but he still had his good days. Sadly, he became a resident in Pilgrim's Rest Nursing Home and he was later joined by his great friend, Sean McLoughlin, both of whom would be having great chats. Consequently, Tony missed out on what would have been his proudest family footballing moment when Darren Browne got capped for his country last September and there is no doubt that Tony would have been in Lecarrow to share that proud moment with his grandson.
Tony was proud of his football and was proud of representing his club and that is self evident of the newspaper cuttings he has kept of the more significant matches that he played in and those newspaper cuttings will be a permanent memory of the class and greatness that he exuded for the Red and Black that will be treasured by his family and passed into folklore.
Predeceased by his daughter Kathy and his grandson Ian McAleer. Tony will be sadly missed by his loving wife Kathleen nee Doyle, sons Tony (Belclare), Alan (Tubber Hill), David (Lecanvey), Kevin (Moyhastin), Tom (Farnaught), daughters Caroline (El Massry) Browne (The Quay), Tina McAleer (Farnaught), Ann O'Donnell (Newport), Sabrina Coughlan (Fahy), sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brother Joseph (London), sisters Margaret Nicholson (Newcastle, UK), Rena Devers (Ballina), brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and friends and Westport United extends its Vote of Sympathy to the Browne family.
Due to the HSE guidelines Tony's Funeral will be held in private. A memorial Mass to celebrate Tony's life will be announced and take place at a later date. The family would like to thank you for your co-operation and consideration at this difficult time. Family flowers only please. Donations, if desired, to Western Alzheimers c/o McGing Funeral Directors, Westport.
Tony's Funeral Mass will be live streamed on the Facebook page of St.Mary's Church, Westport and www.churchtv.ie/westport this Wednesday (July 8th) at 12:30pm. You are invited to leave your message of sympathy for the family on the comments section of our Facebook page, thank you.
Westport United extends its Vote of Sympathy to the family of the late Tony Browne.
May Tony's gentle soul Rest In Peace