Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


Mr. William (Bill) Dillon
of Bagenalstown

Written by Michael Purcell

It was with deep regret that the Bagenalstown community learnt of the death of William (Bill) Dillon, of 44 Eastwood, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow., poet, historian and writer, who died on December 17, 2004 aged 56, after a short illness.

A native of the town, Bill was the son of Mary Dillon Kinsella and the late William Dillon of Kilcarrig Street. He was fond of out-door activities and enjoyed swimming, hill-walking and cycling. He enjoyed good health for most of his life up until his illness.

At the age of 15, Bill joined the Irish Guards regiment of the British Army in 1963. He completed his cadetship in Surrey and passed out at the top of his class.

During his military career, he did tours of duty in Canada, Africa, Cyprus and Aden in Yemen, where he lost some of his comrades in heavy fighting. He completed numerous courses with the British Army and on completion of a course on small arms with the highest score, he was promoted to sergeant even though he was still only a teenager.

Bill also took part in the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace and did guard duty at Buckingham and Kensington Palaces and Windsor Castle.

He bore a scar on his lip, a reminder of the time he served in the Paratroops Regiment and ended up in hospital badly injured when his parachute failed to open during a jump.

In 1971 Bill joined the Irish Army and was stationed in Kilkenny and the Curragh Camp, where he served as a military policeman.

In 1972, he married Margaret Farnan of Kilkea, Co. Kildare, and the couple spent their first years of married life living in the Curragh Camp. He left the Irish Army in the 1980s and the family returned to Bagenalstown.

Bill’s military career was followed by a time in the Fieldcrest towel factory in Kilkenny, where he worked for a number of years up until the factory’s closure. He then secured a position with Tanco Engineering Stores and, in more recent times, was employed by Hawk Security and then Dan Whelan Engineering Works in Dunroe, Borris.

A lot of people will remember Bill as a fine local historian and his talents in this area were much sought after. He completed a lot of valuable research on Carlow families and events, some of which was published.

His work on transcribing tombstone inscriptions was highly valued by students of history and genealogy. The Fieldcrest Collection of Tombstone Inscriptions and Maps was published under the pseudonym Reynolds Fieldcrest and this covered dozens of burial places and graveyards throughout the county.

Bill was a familiar sight on his “High Nellie” bicycle as he travelled around the countryside recording and transcribing material. He was a member of Carlow County Heritage Society and also a member of O.N.E. The Huge crowds that attended his removal and funeral bore testament to the high esteem in which he was held. For those who mourn him, the words of his poem "Final Rest" will be of some comfort:

"Weep not for me , in my final rest
I am happy -now at peace
Go - my friends , leave me be
I sleep that sleep ,so much longed for ,
Leaving , softly tread
Disturb not my slumber".

Bill was predeceased by his daughter, Natasha, father William and sister Marian. He is survived and deeply mourned by his wife, Margaret, sons William (Dublin), Sean (Barrett Street) and James (Eastwood); daughters Marian (Dunroe, Borris) and Margaret (Pairc Mhuire); mother Mary Kinsella and stepfather Tom (Curranree); brother Sean, nephew Thomas, grandchildren Natasha, Megan, Chloe, James, Oisín and Heather. He is also mourned by his aunts, uncles, cousins, relatives, neighbours and a wide circle of friends.

Source: Nationalist 7th Jan. 2005.

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