JOHN PATRICK ROACHE 1905- 2011.
From the Castlecomer Forum:
The death has taken place on
April 4th in New Zealand of John Roache
formerly of Crettenclough in his 107th year.
Born in Crettenclough on 30th march 1905, his parents were Paul and Mary
(nee Somers). His father lived to be 94 years old and his mother 97 years
old. He was the second oldest of nine children, sadly one of his sisters
Lizzie died young. His other siblings were Peter, Bridget, Philip (Phil),
Edward (Ned), Kathleen (O’Meara), Ellen (Nellie Healy), Mary (Malone), all lived
to reach good ages, and actually three of his siblings collected their
weekly old age pension accompanied by their mother.
He left school at 14 years of age and worked on the farm of an uncle
nearby. In 1928 he went to Australia with his sister Nellie by boat. The journey
took one month and Jack gained a stone in weight during the journey. It
was snowing when he left Ireland, but when he arrived in Freemantle, Perth,
it was 100 degrees. In Ireland he had heard of the long green grass in
Australia, but when he stepped out of the taxi on his arrival in Freeemantle he
went to the knees in sand.
His first job was with his aunts milking cows on a dairy farm. He liked
the cows but the hours were long and there was little sleep, also Jack said
that his aunts treated him like a child and were too bossy, so he moved up
the coast to the wheat fields. He spent a couple of years operating an eight
horse team, ploughing ten acres a day, six days a week, all year round.
He then moved to a smaller farm for one year doing the same type of work
but operating a six horse team.
He then began work in the gold fields panning for gold. The money he
earned here was only enough to pay for his food and to keep him in tobacco. He
later gave up smoking when he was 75 years old. He never made his fortune
here, his crock of gold remained at the end of the rainbow.
He decided to move to New Zealand in 1938. He arrived in Foxton, in the
north island; His first job was on the buildings. The first night he arrived
he met Dorothy Brown whom he later married. When the war broke out he began
working in the flax factory in Foxton, where he stayed for ten years. Next
he took up carpentry. He soon set up a sawmills business with another man,
after some time this man’s brother became a partner also, things weren’t
really the same after that so eventually Jack sold his share of the
business to these two brothers.
He then started his concrete business. He first started making concrete
posts, which led to concrete blocks and then on to cow sheds and milking
parlours. He stayed at his concrete business until his retirement when his son
David took over the business, which he still operates very successfully.
Along with David, Jack and Dorothy had five other children, Ruth, Paul, (who
died suddenly in 1999 aged 59) Dorothy, Elizabeth and Frances. His wife
Dorothy died in 1990.
He once had a dream about a horse whose name was Bad Mac, he decided to
put a bet on it the next day, but the guy working in the betting office put
him off saying that the horse was no use and gave Jack the name of another
horse to bet on which he did, but this horse didn’t do any good and guess
what, Bad Mac won at 100 to 1. Jack never backed a horse after that.
Jack loved his garden, sowing all types of vegetables. At ninety nine
years of age he decided to halve the amount of gardening he was doing. In his
101st year he was still cutting his lawns on a ride on lawn mower. He was a
great man with his hands, at one time along with three other men he built a
wooden extension to the local catholic church. This project took a month
He was a great family man and enjoyed nothing better than the family
gathering when his children, grand children, great grand children and great
great grand children would all gather at his home. He had time for everybody.
He saw many changed in his 106 years. But he took all these changes in his
stride, and there was no age barrier when he was conversing with anyone.
He never forgot Ireland and Crettenclough and made some journeys home
during his lifetime. His last visit was in 1991. His wife had died the previous
year and understandably Jack was feeling down. His family thought a trip
to Ireland would help raise his spirits. So his family came with him. He was
eighty six at that time and it was to be his last visit.
Some of his family have been to Kilkenny since then, actually in 2008 a
cousin of Jack’s bought a dvd of the Castlecomer Wellie Race to New Zealand,
so impressed was Jack’s son David with the amount of money raised by the
event that himself and twelve of his own immediate family came to Moneenroe
to participate in the Wellie race of 2009.
Jack reached his 106th birthday on 30th March 2011. Sadly he passed away
on 4th April 2011. Helping at his funeral was his dear friend of many years
Fr. Kieran Rice who is also a Kilkenny man, originally from Jenkinstown..
On the occasion of his 100th birthday, President Mary McAleese sent him a
medallion and a letter of her good wishes, which he was very proud of.
Actually on her visit to meeting with Irish people in Wellington, New Zealand, a
few years ago she sent an invitation to Jack and a friend to attend, which
he duly did, and Fr. Rice went as his friend. Jack’s photograph appeared on
the Irish Independent the following day with the President and her husband.
He was laid to rest with his wife in Foxton Lawn Cemetery, New Zealand. Ar
dheis dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.
Date of this item added : 2011-05-24