Former Mayor’ s tribute to Liam Wadding Byrne 09/02/17 : the

Former Mayor’ s tribute to Liam Wadding Byrne 09/02/17

| February 9, 2017

wexford chronicle1

That giant of a man Liam Wadding Byrne passed away recently. I had the privilege of knowing Liam for many, many years. When I first met Liam he was a deep sea sailor who truly sailed the seven seas of the globe. At that time, before the age of the internet, mobile phones or even phones or televisions in our houses once a sailor went to sea we didn’t hear of them anymore until six months or so later they returned to our shores.

Liam was one of the last of that breed and during his time at sea sailed into exotic lands and ports that we had only heard spoken of on radio or seen pictures of in glossy magazines. He sailed the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn through storms so great that big strong men like himself dropped to their knees and prayed that God would deliver them safely through to the ocean beyond. He met people of many skin colours, black, brown, yellow, big people small people and people who spoke many strange languages and dialects and had never heard of places like Ireland. Liam took it all in his stride and one wonders what all these people would have thought of this big amicable and pleasant Irishman.

When Liam returned home after many months at sea he would keep people like myself and our mutual friends enthralled at stories of his adventures and escapades in these strange far off places. The much missed County Hotel in Anne Street was a particular haunt in those days and many a girl friend was stood up and many a dinner thrown in the bin as we gathered around listening to Liam’s stories. Liam enjoyed every minute of it and I can still see him, immaculately dressed in the latest suit fashion, crisp shirt and tie, a cigarette in  hand and a glass on the counter as he enjoyed the spell he had over us. Liam could hold an audience.

He also had a tremendous ability to treat prince and pauper alike. I well remember many years ago been given the task of broadcasting a Christmas message on a radio wavelength which could be heard by Irish seafarers all over the world. Liam was sailing off the coast of east Africa and his ship picked up the message. When he returned home the following February we met up and Liam informed me that he and his shipmates had heard that broadcast. My chest must have expanded at least two inches with pride until Liam mischievously added “and you sounded like a right jerk”. Deflation immediately. On the next breath of course was, “and what are you having to drink”.

Liam was a big man in every way and quite often was called upon to intervene if a dispute in a pub became overheated. Seldom did he have to use physical force to calm things down but if there was any pushing or shoving you can be assured that it was Liam doing the pushing and shoving.

When Liam met Brenda, the love of his life, the more cynical of us thought, “This isn’t going to work”. But it did and Liam, while never tamed completely, became a devoted husband and family man as the children arrived.  His lifestyle changed and I’m sure he gave the benefit of his worldly knowledge to them and his grandchildren.

Although in recent years I didn’t see as much of Liam, as both our lives moved on, I always regarded him as a great friend. I could write about him for a day and not say enough. I hope these few words will bring a little comfort, by showing the regard in which he was held, to Brenda and all Liam’s family.

May he rest in peace.

John Roche

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