The St. Vincent's team who won the 1954 London Championship featuring Aloysius Blessing, third from left in back row. Also on the team were his brothers Noel and Terry
The following is a tribute to former Aughavas, Leitrim, London and New York footballer, the late Aloysius Blessing, who passed away on September 15, 2018.
Another stalwart of the Blessing family has passed to his eternal reward. Aloysius was born in Aughnaglace, Aughavas to parents Rose Ann Cooney and Michael Blessing. He emigrated to the United States in 1955 and worked as an electrician in Yale University for over thirty years.
Aloysius settled in Hamden, Connecticut where he was an active member of the New Haven Football and Hurling Club. He received the Irishman of the Year Award in 1993.
Aloysius loved Gaelic football and played competitively on several teams in Ireland, England and the United States, his unique skills on the pitch helping his teams win several championships.
These included Leitrim Senior Championships in 1949, 1951 and 1952 with Aughavas and Connacht Junior Championships with Leitrim in 1952 while he also won a London Gaelic Football Championship in 1954 and a New York title in 1959 with Leitrim.
In later years, he coached a team of young footballers including his sons on behalf of the New Haven Gaelic and Hurling Club.
is strong physique made him ideally suited for the centre-back position, both for club and county.
His passions beyond Gaelic football included golf, tending to his garden of tomato plants and enjoying a good chat with family and friends. He also cherished time with his grandchildren.
Aloysius lived in an area when emigration was high and means of transport were scarce. Men who were prominent in bringing players to games at this time included Willie McKiernan, Peter Higgins, Jack McBrien, Felix O'Rourke and Pee Fitzpatrick.
It was a time when there was five dance-halls in the parish. Money was scarce and people socialized in their own and neighbouring parishes. Facilities were poor and players often shared football boots. It was considered a threat to get togging out in Sonny McKeon's or John Joe McGirl's pubs in Ballinamore. Otherwise, the back of a ditch or a hayshed served as dressing rooms.
The bicycle and shanks mare were the more common way of getting around. Michael "Red" Moran typified the long-distance cycling footballer.
The Blessing brothers with their cousins, the Cooney brothers and near-neighbours, the Kiernans, the Mollaghans, the Reynolds brothers, all combined to form the nucleus of a good football team using Joe Kiernan's meadow for training while Paddy Joe McKiernan often organised training sessions in his own meadow.
Close by were John Conefrey, a great supporter and his brother, Father Pat, a prominent player in his college days. In later years there was Mick McCabe and family, Terry Shortt, Sean and Geraldine McKiernan and Mary Conefrey to research in the library, all supporting the blue.
Without digressing, it shows how such a unifying influence the Gaelic Athletic Association has had on family, parish and national life. In our time, Anna McKiernan and family, Terry Williams and family, the McBrien brothers, Terry Shortt, Sean McCartin, Gerry Gallogly and family, Tom McLoughlin and family, Pauline McKiernan, Sean McLoughlin, John Moran and family, Enda McNamara and family, Martin Kenny and family are all contributing in one way or another to keep the Association alive.
Of course, we cannot forget the McGovern brothers for all their sponsorship, the ever lucid veteran, Willie Lyons, historian Michael Whelan and that maestro from Ballinamore, Tommy Moran who ties up the past and present generations with his gifted eloquence.
Aloysius Blessing, beloved husband of the late Kathleen Finucane Blessing passed away peacefully on September 15, 2018 with his family by his side. Aloysius has played the game of his life. "He has run the race and we can be sure that a crown of glory awaits him".
Aloysius is survived by his children, Noel Blessing with his wife, Cynthia Banuelos Blessing of New Haven, Olive Blessing of New York City, Patricia Blessing Bell and her husband Jeffrey Bell of Los Angeles and Michael Blessing and his wife Rebecca Joanne Blessing of Hamden.
Aloysius is also survived by his four grandchildren, Fiona, Gabriel, Liam and Dylan. He is also survived by his sisters Patsy Blessing McTeague, Angela Blessing Gray and brother Terry Blessing, former Aughavas & Leitrim footballer.
Deceased sisters include Claire Blessing O'Connor, Olive Blessing Gordon, brothers Noel, former Leitrim and Connacht footballer, Michael and Raymond, all former players.
Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam uasal.