“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile” Albert Einstein. This was the sentiment which adorned the back cover of a NUIG Magazine for former students which, ironically, came in the post just last week. In considering an opening for these lines I thought how apt they would be to encapsulate the life of Dr. Bernard McGuire who passed away at his home in Felton, Boyle last Friday.
I first met Bernard in U.C.G. in the late sixties and became a member of the boxing club there for which Bernard was an active recruiter. It is a validation of the activity and adventures of that small club that a number of members from that time were present at Bernard’s funeral this week almost fifty years later. His Donegal friend from then and always Ciaran McFadden gave a telling account, at Bernard’s funeral Mass, of how they met and the bond that emerged and continued. Ciaran spoke of the qualities of Bernard or Mac, as we first knew him, laced with anecdote and reflection of a good, generous man with a unique personality. Bernard would have been pleased with Ciaran’s summations and would have smiled at some of the evidential anecdotes.
Of course it was easier for me as both Bernard and I ended up in the same town and our friendship matured. Not alone was he a friend but he was a caring compassionate doctor to our family and to many families in the region of Boyle.
Bernard was not just a fine medical doctor but was a man with a variety of talents as an active brain grappled with numerous projects down the years. In more recent times a major project of his was the harnessing wave power and that continues at a third level institution presently.
I remember being with him when he first showed me what was become the site for his home of recent years. The site had been a mill, possibly with a hydro power history.
All that remained were some heavy sleepers crossing the river and the relic of an industrial building on the opposite bank.
He was to build a fine house there with which he had a major involvement. It was a fine achievement in a challenging location. As Ciaran said ‘Bernard was as much at home on a building site as he was as a doctor’. The final piece of that jigsaw was the Bailey bridge which he acquired, if my memory serves me right, near his North of England home of early years. He was rightly very proud of that bridge and liked to relate the story of its journey from Liverpool to Felton.
He loved traditional music and challenged himself with the construction of some instruments, one being a concertina. I was aware of its progress and completion and last August I brought a connection of mine, concertina player Conor Tivnan, out to Felton to ‘launch’ the concertina as it were. Conor did the occasion justice and the concertina got his seal of approval. So Bernard could tick the box on that project. It is something Conor and I are so pleased now that we did that as you can imagine.
On a recent visit he talked of times in the north of England around Liverpool and his progress in education mixed with his experience of working on the motorways and an adventure with a dumper. I seem to be using the word ‘adventure or adventures’ fairly often in speaking of Bernard! He also told me of how he ended up in Galway. He talked of his original home in Sligo and reflected on a picture in the room of his brothers one of whom had died just a short time ago in Sligo.
In retrospect it was a wider conversation than usual and his handshake as I left had a quality of finality. But I did not know or realise that then of course. Perhaps he did though. He certainly fought the good fight.
In conclusion I return to Ciaran again where he said “ Bernard took the cards that were served to him (in difficult times) and through his intelligence and discipline pursued a career that allowed him to do what was at the core of his persona, To Try Help Others.” That he did in spades.
While it is an oft-used phrase I think it is truly reflective of Dr. Bernard McGuire. Ni fheicimid a leithead aris ann