Jimmy Farrell has been described as a ‘pioneering influence’ and a key individual in bringing the telephone network to homes and businesses across the county of Longford. He has also been described as a man meticulous to a fault who set very high standards for himself and others, inspiring countless people by the manner in which he lived his life. These traits were obviously family ones given the high regard his brother John and the rest of his siblings were and are also held.
Born in Graffogue, Ardagh in November 1920, Jimmy was one of six children born to parents Bill and Marcela (nee Keegan) Farrell. He and his siblings, three sisters – Irene, May and Kathleen and two brothers John and Tommy were raised on the family homestead. His parents instilled in him an excellent work ethic and an ambition to do well for himself in the world.
He attended the local Loughill National School and thereafter he went to the Vocational school on the Battery Road Longford.
As he had always displayed an avid interest in the mechanical workings of objects it came as no surprise to anyone when in 1939 he joined the fledgling Post and Telegraphs (P&T) Service as a youth in training, an arena in which he excelled. His first posting was in Lifford, County Donegal but a few years later he was happy to get a posting nearer to home in Mullingar, County Westmeath.
It was there he met his wife Lucy Mc Kiernan, a Fermanagh woman. They were married in 1943 and shortly thereafter they set up home at 45 Dublin Street in Longford town. The premises had previously been owned by a Molly Brehan who ran the business as a light Grocery and Confectionary, while also keeping guests. The industrious Farrells kept on the boarding element of the business, as well as the confectionary shop while transforming the living quarters into a home for themselves. They called their new business ‘The Magnet’ and the family became known forever after as ‘The Magnet Farrells’.
Jimmy and Lucy became immersed in the life of the town, Lucy with the operations of the shop and Jimmy becoming involved in many different groups and organisations. Similar to his brother John Farrell of Ardagh, he was a progressive thinker and so was an avid promoter and founding member of Longford Credit Union, an organisation he viewed as being a powerful force for the community.
Jimmy and Lucy had a family of two daughters, Ann and Nuala. Ann had a particular interest and talent in music so she and her father Jimmy, with whom she shared this interest, would often assist music teacher Sister Angela in the Convent of Mercy, who went on to establish an Irish Ceili band. Jimmy’s love of music led to his membership on the committee of the first Fleadh Ceoil in Longford.
Being a social individual he also enjoyed the camaraderie at the local Greyhound track with which he was very involved.
In relation to his working life Jimmy’s work ethic and ethos meant he rose steadily through the ranks in the P&T Services, from engineer in Carrick on Shannon to Inspector in Mullingar and then Engineering Superintendent in Longford which saw him establish a HQ on the Ballinalee Road in Longford town.
The couple eventually bought a new home on the Ballinalee Road from which Lucy ran a successful B&B business until her passing in 1985. In the same way that his brother John was so deeply affected by the loss of his beloved wife, so too was Jimmy, but also similarly he found a peace and a strength in the land, returning to his home place of Ardagh and reconnecting with the landscape of his youth. It was in Ardagh that he happily farmed from 1986 until his passing in 2017.
In thinking about the ties that bind us all to the places of our birth, there are many ties which bound Jimmy both to Ardagh and to Longford town, not least the fact that he was a Farrell and an immensely proud one at that. He joined the Farrell Clan at the very beginning, serving two consecutive terms as Chairperson, 1996 – 2002, a total of six years in the role. As with everything he did in life he was an inspiring Chairperson, dedicating tremendous time and effort to ensuring that the clan meetings were professionally conducted and all clan activities were delivered successfully. His organisational skills were key in ensuring the success of the 2000 Clan Rally.
Additionally he was known to have excellent financial skills and be quite prudent with money. This came in very useful for the committee as a lot of time was spent fundraising during the early years of the clan. Along with Anthony, Harry, Joe, Connie and the other members of the Clan Committee, he worked tirelessly in the promotion of the Farrell Clan, both at home and abroad. This marketing took place during a time without the modern conveniences of mobile phones, instant internet and social media so the fact they ran such a successful committee and Clan membership is testament to the passion, dedication and skills of the committee. Being the thrifty Farrells there was always merchandise for sale as well as the clan certificates so this helped finance the cost of insurance or any other clan related activities such as the rally.
During his years of retirement Jimmy also loved to head off adventuring around the country with his friend Paddy O’Donnell. A man with an enormous capacity for learning and a mind that remained ever enquiring, this late in life adventuring added to the wealth of knowledge he already had to share with his family. He ventured out to Mexico City in 1995 for the Mexican Farrell Clan rally and to witness the laying of a foundation stone for the clans dedicated Farrell Castle. While visiting the city of Teotihuacan he scaled the heights of the Aztec Pyramid of the Sun to witness the panoramic view from its summit.
He was deeply proud to travel that distance representing the Farrell Clan. He left a lasting impression on all those he met, due to his traits of good will and generosity of spirit. He was the kind of man the Farrell Motto described perfectly ‘Do Good Not Evil’. Jimmy always done the good and right thing without fuss or ceremony. He had an innate desire to do the best for his family, for friends and for his community. This is how he will best be remembered.