There was profound and widespread shock in Dungiven this morning (6th February) to hear of the sad and sudden death of Francie Brolly. This sense of deep loss was particularly felt within the local GAA community where Francie had played a prominent role for most of his life, as a player with St Canice’s, as an administrator and as a promoter of all aspects of Irish culture.
Francie played on the first Dungiven team to win a County Minor Title in 1956 and played senior football with the club for the next twenty years. He played centre half-forward in two losing Senior County Finals (V Bellaghy in 1960 and V Newbridge in 1966) and was on the panel of the 1976 beaten finalists (V Ballerin).
At the end of a very lengthy playing career Francie involved himself with the everyday running affairs of the club. It was an inevitable progression as his father Joe had served as Club Secretary for much of the 1960’s. In 2000, Francie was elected St Canice’s Club Chairman, a position he held with distinction for the next three years.
His unquestionable passion was for the Irish language, and he ran classes in the club for many years, tutoring the young and not so young. All who were taught by him recognised his infectious enthusiasm and grá for An Teanga Gaeilge. Francie’s contribution to the development and promotion of the Irish Language is perhaps his greatest legacy and is unparalleled locally and throughout the county.
He also excelled as a musician and, with his wife Anne, entertained regularly in the club lounge. He was also a regular attender at sessiuns held monthly. From time to time he turned his hand to composing and famously penned ‘The H-Block Song’ in the late 1970’s.
As a music teacher in St Patrick’s High School, Dungiven he nurtured in his pupils a great love for all aspects of Irish music. Without exception, his former pupils speak fondly and highly of him.
Francie served as an elected public representative both on Limavady Council and in the N I Assembly. He represented East Derry as a Sinn Fein MLA from 2003 to 2010.
Francie Brolly was, in every sense, a gentleman and true Gael. He was an active member of St Canice’s GAC until his untimely death and the club is deeply indebted to him. We extend our sincere condolences to his dear wife Anne, his sons Joe, Proinnsias, and Conal, his daughters Áine and Nollaig and to the entire Brolly family.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal