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Phelim's loss felt by whole community


Sudden death: Phelim Brewster

Sudden death: Phelim Brewster

Sudden death: Phelim Brewster

AUGUST 7, 2004. I am in The Gaelic Club, Surrey Hills, Sydney, watching Fermanagh beat Armagh in the All-Ireland quarter-final. Beside me, and in foul form, is my cousin Dermot.

Although he is of Fermanagh heritage, his upbringing in Pinebank, in the Tullygally area of Craigavon, imbued him with enough Orchard County spirit to give his footballing allegiances to Armagh.

On the other side of the world, Tom Brewster kicked the winning score of the game for the underdogs. His cousin Phelim was brought up in Pinebank too, but having attended Ernesiders matches with his father Pat and watching Tom and his brother Paul represent Fermanagh with distinction for years was enough for him to be a son of the Erne County.

Phelim jumped for joy. For years afterwards, he revelled in telling that yarn to those who knew him around Craigavon.

The Brewsters are a remarkable GAA family. Paul and Tom's father, Mick, played on the Fermanagh team that won the All-Ireland junior title in 1959. The Enniskillen Gaels' grounds are named after him.

Phelim will be buried tomorrow. Just 43-years-old, he died suddenly at home and leaves a widow Una, and three children, James, Clara and Michael.

A former player and captain of the local Eire Óg club, the tributes earlier in the week from his friend Thomas Larkham spoke of a true gentleman.

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The green spaces at Pinebank from my memory are still filled with children playing football and golf, with Larkham noting: "He would always be out with the kids - eight or nine from our row - and he maybe had them all out giving them private golf lessons on a bit of a green near his house."

Families lose an awful lot with the untimely loss of a caring parent. Communities lose out too. And the GAA community at Eire Óg have suffered an enormous loss.


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