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James Christopher Byrne 1953 – 2017.
In a year that has already seen our Club lose former stalwarts Joe Flaherty and Frank Kane it is with great sadness that the Club can confirm the passing of our Executive Committee member James (Jem) Byrne.
Jem’s sudden and untimely death after a short illness has rocked our Club to the core. On behalf of the Football Club I would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Jem’s brothers and sisters and his extended family at this very sad time.
As his family home looks out on to “The Lawn” it was always likely that Jem would be involved with some football club in Ballyfermot. Thankfully Jem’s father Kevin was heavily involved with Cherry Orchard in the early days and it was us who were the lucky ones.
Jem Byrne was involved with Cherry Orchard for practically his whole life. During this time there is no aspect of running a football club that Jem wasn’t involved in, from managing teams, transporting players (in days when lifts were few and far between) marking pitches, putting up nets, signing players, committee work, selling tickets, sponsoring a team himself or getting sponsors, you name it, Jem done it.
In football, the players get the medals, the manager gets the plaudits and the Club gets the profile. It’s seldom that a person from behind the scenes gets the acknowledgement they deserve for the huge amount of work they put in. Words like immeasurable, outstanding, or huge can all be used to describe the contribution Jem made to Cherry Orchard Football Club in particular and football in general.
The truth is the difference between a Club surviving or ceasing to exist in many cases can be down to one or two individuals and Cherry Orchard are no different. The word legend is used far to often these days but I terms of Jem’s contribution to our Club it seems inadequate. Every Club needs a person like Jem Byrne but very few are lucky enough to ever have one.
Whether you knew him as Jem, Slaughterhouse, JCB, or one of his many pseudonyms he went by, if you were involved with Cherry Orchard Football Club over the last fifty years you would know Jem. Football played a huge part in Jem’s life, when he’s not working hard for the Cherry Orchard cause; Jem got his football fix travelling the world to follow the “Boys in Green”. He was one of the few Irish fans who travelled to Iceland when they won their first International trophy in 1983.
Jem Byrne had a mantra that you make friends through football but you should never lose them through football and this served him well over the years. He made countless friends covering the length and breadth of the Country from Fanad to Avondale from Castlebar to Boyne they never forget the big man with the long hair that’s involved with The Orchard.
Jem was a gentleman, a unique character with a dry and witty sense of humour, mischievous, sociable, straight and direct. I have no doubt that each one of us will have our own personal and special memories of the mark Jem left in our lives; he was that type of person.
He often described himself jokingly as “a gentleman, a scholar and a good judge of bad whiskey” I know for sure he will be sadly missed by those of us lucky to have called him our friend.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam, - May he rest in peace.
Cherry Orchard Football Club.