It is with a personal sadness that the Diary records the death of Maureen (Mor) Reihill, née Byrne, of Ballsbridge, Dublin, and originally from Kilcullen, on the evening of 26 September, 2014. She was 97.
She is survived by her daughter Orla, and was predeceased by her son Shane and her husband Jim. Mor was the daughter of the late James J Byrne Snr and his wife Mary, and the last surviving sibling of Jim Byrne, Tom Byrne, and Kath O’Reilly.
Maureen’s remains will repose at her home on Monday 29 September, between 2-8pm. Her funeral mass will be celebrated at 10am on Tuesday 30 September in the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Merrion Row, Dublin. Her burial will take place afterwards in New Abbey Cemetery, Kilcullen, Co Kildare, at 12 noon.
A moment in time that conjures up sadness and reflection.
My mother Kathryn(“Kath”)’s (http://wp.me/p15Yzr-k7) dearly beloved eldest sister, Auntie Mor’s passing on Friday marked the end of a “Byrnes of Kilcullen” generation, whose precocious talents brought so much conviviality, escapade, involvement, commitment, and true wit to the lives of so many many people, a legacy which, I for one can confirm, continues to percolate through the genes of their children and grandchildren.
I am very happy that Auntie Mor, a true devoted and loyal daughter of Ireland – who loved singing, baking (some of my fondest memories 🙂 ), her many friends and her two precious children, Shane (http://wp.me/p15Yzr-4) and Orla – will be returning home to her final resting place in Kilcullen.
Sights:The scorching heat, the pickets, the ominous helicopters, the blank stares of bus loads of apprehensive People’s Liberation Army soldiers surrounded by Beijing’s irate mothers and fathers, the water tankers, the chuandan (pamphlets), the handwritten messages on the school noticeboard, real tears, fleeing, panic, emptiness, dry tears, bloated bodies. How many more?
Tastes: Dry, salty and bitter.
Time:Central Beijing –3.45pm Saturday June 3, 1989, the first time I heard the traumatising sounds of teargas canisters and stun grenades exploding all around me, gunfire. A wave of spine-chilling panic and astonishment shuddered through the maddened crowd.
“Look at what the People’s Liberation Army are using against the people”, said my local friend.
I was standing near Zhongnanhai, the Communist Party of China and central government’s seat of power. Nine hours later from the safety of my dormitory my eyes were fixed on the horizon where a menacing, murky pall of orange hung over downtown Beijing. June 4, 1989, one month, two weeks, six days since the orderly student-led ‘nothing to my name’ [Read more at: http://wp.me/p15Yzr-19] demonstrations began in Tiananmen Square. All was eerily quiet in the immediate vicinity, but we knew, the rumour machine knew, and it wasn’t long before the first of the bloated purples would be carried back to the campus. No wailing, just lifeless silence.
The most dramatic and formative event of my life, all permanently etched in my mind as if it was yesterday.
“You missed Woodstock” said my brother upon my return home.
In August 1969, forty-nine years ago this Summer, during the height of the Vietnam War, and a year after the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, a 450,000-strong hippie commune established itself at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair to hear rock legends the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” “Gimmie Shelter” and a feast of other rock bands belt out some of the most powerful rock music ever written. Braving rain, mud, heat, cold, poor sanitation, and food shortages it was just another typical rock concert they were all going to. None of them had come in search of a huge historical turning point, they just wanted to listen to what is still the most powerful rock music ever made. As it rained and rained the calmness and undisturbed feeling of the gathering grabbed the attention of the world’s media who gazed in grudging admiration at the 450,000 [the same as the number of American soldiers at the time fighting the Vietnam War] number spectacle.
People turned to each other and said “Can you believe this?”
It wasn’t a rebellion, rather the people doing as they pleased for the happiness of it, enjoying the freedom. Towards the end of the Fair when much of the crowd had already left, Jimi Hendrix, intoxicated by the mood, took to the stage: “No to the Vietnam War, No to racism...” and then came his 4 and a half minute rendition of the American National Anthem the “Star Spangled Banner“…. the culmination of a new patriotic counter culture that was questioning the direction of American society.
American journalist and educator Max Lerner summed up Woodstock as:
“a turning point in the consciousness generations have of each other and of themselves“.
People who were there spread out across America and the world to relate stories of an ideal and perfect time and place called Woodstock, where for three days everyone lived in harmony and everything was for the best in size and spirit surpassed all fantasies. They find themselves part of history.
Woodstock was proof that America was still big enough to contradict itself on a huge scale, and to stand up in the best possible spectacle against its worst excesses.
“We have kneeled down too long and are getting up to stretch our legs” (Anonymous 89er)
I recall the heady weeks leading up to June 4, 1989 as vividly as if it was yesterday: a passionate flowering of student idealism, mingling with the students, exchanging stories, philosophising about the differences between capitalism and socialism, how energetic, so full of life they were. Their thirst for information, their frustrations with the harsh restrictions of life, their optimism for the future, the music, the sense of intellectual excitement, a free-spirited atmosphere, more debates, pasting their manifestos on campus boards across Beijing, the marching, the banners, the hunger strikes, the city at a complete standstill, the enormous public compassion and understanding, being in Tiananmen Square staring at the statue of the Goddess in white and realising this was their rebellion not mine. The cry was for reform. An entire nation was about to blossom, but then came the cruel, brutal response, and with it the death of hope, romanticism and idealism in China.
China’s Woodstock? Yes, flattery indeed. The bands didn’t play on.
In the intervening time the Zhongnanhai Establishment still advocates the same lamentable verdict in relation to the events of June 4, 1989...
… Modern China’s enduring transformational pain. 遗忘症节快乐!
46 years ago today I remember looking up from the kitchen window, the stepping (why did he always walk that way to work, or was it just this morning?) over the wire holding up the tennis court net (it must have been nice weather because it was unusual for the grass tennis court net to be set up so early), the walking stick, the wave by Mum and I from the kitchen, his cheerful smile… Then I remember being in our next door neighbour’s — the Breen’s — house, their formal drawing room, which we were always forbidden from playing in, the gilt-painted chairs and chaise longe. All so surreal. The three of them looking at me. Poor Mum in the middle. The story that I didn’t really understand about Dad going to see “holy god” and “heaven”.
May 10th arrived, Blackrock Church, the cemetery Deansgrange… I can’t remember my unilateral placing of a red rose on his coffin.
There were so many people… they all seemed to want to distract blond and blue-eyed me..
Why so many people?
Where was he?
That big box they were lowering into the hole in the ground.
The Study (a room in our house Avoca Lodge) was so crowded with grown-ups.
I overheard stories about an afternoon tea of chicken sandwiches at a New Ireland Assurance Board of Directors meeting, a chicken bone, a traffic jam, a hospital called Meath and 4.15pm… the time he suddenly met his maker.
My favourite beverage Schweppes bitter lemon …… laced… the first time I tasted alcohol (someone else’s drink or a well-meaning prank by one of my brothers?)…everything became hazy and very numb…
None of my teachers in either St Michael’s College or The Oratory School knew or cared about the anguish within. I was asleep, anaesthetised, numb…for eight years…. Perhaps quiet Niall was always like that… maybe not quite the full shilling.
I was about 19 when I awoke from the haze thanks to an amazing duo: Dr. Stephen Barcroft and Senator Maurice Rickard O’Connell (The great great grandson of Daniel O’Connell, “The Liberator“). They cared, they understood, and they were both hugely influential in opening my eyes to the world.
… The trauma each one of my father’s sons and his wife had to bear alone in our own silence: Unmerited, totally.
All because of a chicken bone. What a waste?
Liam Sean O’Reilly (26th March 1913 – 8th May 1973), son of Dr. Michael William (deceased 21st November 1971) and Catherine “Cathleen” Mary O’Reilly (deceased 5th July 1957), a son of Synge Street CBS and Clongowes Wood College (1928 – 1931),my father, RIP.
My father died on the 112th anniversary of the birth of soon to be canonised Blessed John Sullivan SJ (8 May 1861 -19 February 1933), who in his role as spiritual director of Clongowes Wood College spent most of his life as a Jesuit at the school. Known for his virtue, goodness, and holiness Fr Sullivan had a great desire to bring out the best in the boys. Unmistakable from my father’s refined and honourable character, Fr John’s influence as a role model and mentor is a legacy I continue to stand by every day.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to record the death of my sister Gill Becker, formerly of Moyola, Kilcullen, after bravely confronting serious illness over recent years.
Gill died at her home in Weymouth, Dorset, with her loving family at her side. We will all miss her, but our thoughts are particularly with her husband Frank and their children Rory and Sandy, who have lost a wife and mother and best friend, and their grandchildren Danny, Molly, Rosie and Jenny, daughter in law Anne-Marie and son in law Michael. For myself, and my brothers Gary and Fergus, we will always count ourselves privileged to have had such a beautiful and funloving sister for so long in our lives. As also did our late brother Des, who died at an untimely age but who was particularly close to Gill.
We know that the sunshine which Gill brought to everyone around her will be creating a quantum of extra brightness to wherever our life-forces go when we have finished here. May she rest in peace.”
The death occurred recently of Kathleen (Kathryn) O’Reilly, younger daughter of the late James Joseph Byrne Snr of Kilcullen and Mary Byrne (Cody), at the age of 85.
Beloved wife of the late Liam O’Reilly (New Ireland/Irish National, died 1973) she is deeply missed and much loved by her sons William, Conor and Niall, daughter-in-law Dervil, her sister Maureen, extended family and a wide circle of friends. Kathryn’s brothers were the late Jim Byrne of The Hideout, and the late well-known businessman Tom Byrne.
She was educated at Loreto Abbey Dalkey; Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) School, Bunclody, Wexford; and Loreto School Rathfarnham, where she captained the school hockey team.
She was always interested in fashion and designed many of her own clothes. She trained and worked as a fashion model in London, and worked in Dublin with Henry White. An accomplished singer, her life-long friend Dr Veronica Dunne (‘Auntie Ronnie’ to Kath’s children) was also at her funeral.
Kath had a deep and genuine interest in everyone she met and was known to be ‘one hell of a party organiser’, entertaining — at her successive homes in Knockbrack, Avoca Lodge, Tudor House or Moorefield — groups who ranged from ambassadors and taoisigh to many dear friends and neighbours.
She loved painting and especially her classes with Alma Brayden, Margaret Margetsen, and Bernie Lyons. Her son Niall recalls that she would often get up in the middle of the night ‘to add a dab here and a touch-up there’.
Her father-in-law Dr M W O’Reilly, observing Kath’s capacity for ‘listening’ appointed her to the Board of Directors in two of the many companies he established in Ireland.
Her other interests included cooking, and her coffee cakes, Guinness cake and brown breads were always in demand at home. That was also where she indulged her passion for gardening and she could reel off the Latin names of the flowers and shrubs which emblazoned her ‘magical’ garden, an ‘Eden’ always alive in a myriad of colours and chorus of chirping birds.
She loved travel and had friends abroad in places ranging from Paris, Nice and Italy, the UK, Mauritius, Ecuador and Columbia, Florida and New York, The Hague, Bonn, and East Berlin, and Niall recalls an especially fun ‘pate, cheese and wine Tour de France’ with his Mum driving and himself navigating. She also visited China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Kath was a forthright armchair supporter, and at times severe critic, of the Ireland and Leinster rugby teams, especially when seated in front of a glowing fire on a cold winter’s afternoon armed with a mug of Barry’s tea.
She maintained an absolute devotion to God and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
She died after a short illness, in the care of the staff of the Blackrock Clinic. Chief celebrant at the funeral mass was Fr Maurice O’Moore and this brief account of a life lived to the full is taken from the eulogy delivered by Niall at the Requiem Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Monkstown Village, on Saturday August 4th 2012.
Auntie Kath, rest in peace. BB
This Appreciation was originally published on the Kilcullen page of the Kildare Nationalist.
A special Mass for Mum will be held at St. Patrick’s Church, Monkstown, Co. Dublin at 10.00am Thursday 1st August 2019 (two days before what would have been her 92th birthday). The 1st August marks the seventh anniversary of her passing.
“August 3rd 1927
A cursory look at the newspapers on this day reveals news all about what was going on up in the air:
In Germany two Junker pilots had flown a Junker W33 airplane for a new distance world record – taking 54 hours and 22 minutes.
Here at home on this the eleventh anniversary of Roger Casement’s execution at Dail Eireann (The Irish Parliament) was debating cracking down on the ‘insurgents’, who days earlier had assassinated Kevin O’Higgins, the Vice President.
–For us seated here today the mere fact Dail Eireann was even sitting in August is probably the most revealing part of this story!
An unremarkable day so far?
Well, not quite.
Up at the Goffs Bloodstock Sales in Ballsbridge a horsey friend approached bloodstock auctioneer James Byrne Senior to congratulate him.
James, acknowledging the good wishes with his usual aplomb, thought the man was referring to his recent sale of a fine looking filly (a young female horse too young to be called a mare).
“No James, I am not talking about a horse. Your wife has just given birth to a baby daughter!!
50 miles away in Kilcullen, Mary ‘Min’ Byrne was resting upstairs in Byrne’s Hotel (later famously known as ‘The Hideout’ Pub) having just given birth to our treasured Mother –
KATHLEEN NORA MARY BYRNE
What appears to have been a rather run of the mill day was indeed very special.
Happy 85th Birthday Mum!
Taking on the onerous task of summarising the life of our dearest mother (your Aunt, your friend, my very best friend) here and now will not do justice to the charming, gracious, humourous, beautiful and very loving woman that is Kathryn.
My two brothers (William and Conor) and I know that everyone of you here today holds a very special memory of our mother – with plenty of humour attached.
So, to share the joy that is our mother Kathryn, after the (cremation) service at Mount Jerome, we sincerely wish to invite all our mother’s friends (Our Friends), and relatives here today to come up to our house in Tivoli Close. We have arranged for Cafe de Journal on The Crescent here in Monkstown to provide catering and you will also have a chance to view our mother’s magical garden!!
Regarding our mother Kathryn words come to mind which I expect will strike a chord, evoke a memory.
Mum’s husband, our father, Liam. Their engagement was announced on 12th July 1952, and they married six months later, on 15th January 1953, in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin.
Mum’s brothers Jim and Tom Byrne; her sister Maureen; her “adopted” brother Barney Byrne, who living in Hong Kong survived as a prisoner of war in Hong Kong and Japan.
Mum’s schools – Loreto Abbey Dalkey (from the age of six years old, a school she ran away from twice. Following the outbreak of the second world war she recalled seeing German aircraft from her school, which overlooked Dublin Bay, while all the windows at night were covered with heavy blackout curtains. The close proximity of the school to potential bombing raids prompted her parents to transfer her to; Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) School Newtown Barry, Bunclody, Wexford About FCJ Convent & School Bunclody; a school she loved, and where she excelled in music and sports. As Captain of her school hockey team she was fondly referred to a “Legs Eleven”. She completed her schooling years at Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham, in Dublin.
Fashion– Spontaneously creative, having personally designed many of the striking dresses, blouses, and jackets that she wore with an almost effortless ease, there was always elegance and appeal in the way our mother presented herself. She had trained in “beauty and sales” in Harrods and worked as a fashion model in London (living in St. Mary’s Convent, Institute of the Blessed Virgin, Fitzjohns Avenue, Hempstead, and in Bath), and here in Dublin with Henry White. She also worked as a colour coordinator and fashion and design consultant for the nylon hosiery manufacturer Berkshire Knitting Mills in Newtownards, County Down, Reading Berkshire. Her proud horsey father, James, loved to quip to his daughter that she had “a fine pair of fetlocks” (horsey-speak for ankles)!
Fragrance – YSATIS de Givenchy.
Music – Mum studied music from childhood. Soon after leaving school, in 1946 two nineteen year old ladies were offered life changing opportunities to study singing in Milan. When Mum asked her brothers for the £200 she needed to fund her studies they took the wind out of her sail, fretting over the amorous intentions of Italian men and the dangers of a young woman travelling to a newly formed Republic of Italy still numbed and severely damaged by war. Presumably, as was commonplace for a well brought up Irish woman at that time, she was expected to stay at home and wait for the ideal future husband to come along. A life-changing moment for Mum, given that the second lady sold her pony and went to become Ireland’s ‘Grande Dame’ of singing. My two brothers and I are absolutely delighted that Mum’s life-long friend Dr. Veronica Dunne (“Auntie Ronnie”) is here with us today (Mum and Ronnie were born on the same day, August 3rd 1927).
Entertaining – Mum had a deep and genuine interest in everyone she met – people from all walks of life. She was one hell of a party organiser: Ambassadors, Taoisigh, or just our neighbours. I know you’ll have a smile when you recollect Kathryn’s talent for quickly putting complete strangers at ease whether in Knockbrack, Avoca Lodge, Tudor House or Moorefield.
Painting – Mum loved her painting, especially her classes with Alma (Brayden), Margaret (Margetsen), and Bernie (Lyons). It didn’t matter what the end product looked like (despite sometimes getting up at 3:00am to add a dab here and a touch-up there) – she loved colours and new ideas.
Writing – Mum loved the English language, in her free time writing with a modest yet thoughtful expression which – whether a letter to her dearly-loved children, or an opinion piece for a fashion or societal magazine – always portrayed her deep sense of humanity and compassion. In an article written for the journal of Irish Women’s Political Association titled ‘The Gamines (Los Gaminos) of Bogotá‘ she asked: “And what of us safely ensconced in the faraway ‘developed’ worlds of Europe and America? What responsibility do our affluent societies bear for the prevalence and maltreatment of Bogotá’s disposable street children?” (Source / read more: http://wp.me/s15Yzr-2593)
Interior decorating – Mum’s eye for fashion, intuitive sense of style and her ability to create/recreate were subject to a constant stream of compliments, regarding the way she designed our family home and how good her taste was when it came decorating and updating old furniture, undertakings which she loved.
Company director – Her father-in-law Dr. MW O’Reilly observing Mum’s capacity for “listening” appointed her to the Board of Directors in two of the many companies he established in Ireland.
Cooking – The Coffee Cakes, the Guinness Cake, and, of course, the Brown Bread. Mum derived enormous pleasure from her delicious cooking. I plan to spend a lot of time studying her all-embracing cookery book collection, which stretches back to the days of her grandmother.
Gardening – As you can see from the photo at the back of the Mass pamphlet, our mother, born under the sun sign of Leo, loved gardening (the garden was where she felt closest to God). She could reel off the Latin names of the flowers and shrubs which emblazoned her magical garden – and her Eden was always alive in a myriad of colours and chorus of chirping birds.
Travel – Honeymoon in Paris, Nice and Italy; UK, especially London, and Berkshire where her boys went to school; Mauritius (de Froberville and du Maurier families); Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela (British Ambassador John and Jenny Hickman, British Ambassador Jock and Molly Taylor) – [In Ecuador she was also a guest of elder statesman Galo Plaza Lasso (former President of Ecuador), and developed a deep interest in the many unknown tribes of the dense rain forests of Oriente region of eastern Ecuador]; Florida and New York; The Hague, Bonn, and East Berlin (British AmbassadorJock and Molly Taylor); pate, cheese and wine Tour de France (Mum driving, Niall navigating); China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore (Niall).
Rugby – A forthright armchair supporter and at times severe critic of the Ireland and Leinster rugby teams, especially when seated in front of a glowing fire on a cold winter’s afternoon armed with a mug of Barry’s tea.
Family Nest– Her welcoming“Moorefield” (Our home) – her ‘red room’, books and the warm cozy fireplace, her time-honored glowing Christmas, replete with tradition, her love of antiques, Muffin I and II (the family dogs), her car…
Devotion – Mum’s absolute devotion to God and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
Family – Our Mother’s primary love, her reason for being, was her family.
Husband – A devoted wife to our dear father Liam who passed away on Tuesday May 8th 1973.
In one of our numerous conversations about her formative years, before she married Liam, Mum told me both a medical student as well as a doctor friend proposed to her within the period of a week, and in her innocence, not wishing to upset them, said “yes” to the both of them. She didn’t even know they had being courting her. Of course, when her mother Min found out there was holy war!
Following the death of our father Liam, 39 years ago, Mum devoted herself to the sole purpose of ensuring the well-being of her children. Throughout this period she endured many hardships and impediments, but kept persisting through fear, confusion and loneliness, always placing her children first. Life was hard, but Mum was harder!
Right to her last breath – HER BOYS WERE HER LIFE!
Kathryn was simply a wonderful mother, true friend, and close confidante, indispensable in every way. She loved her community of dear friends from all walks of life, and it is this trait that brings us all here today to celebrate the life of our mother on her birthday.
Finally, William, Conor and I wish to extend our genuine and heartfelt appreciation to all the staff of the Blackrock Clinic, as well as two fantastic family friends – Kevin O’Donnell and Maura Fennell – and Father Maurice O’Moore (Chief Celebrant at Mum’s funeral mass) for all your devoted and steadfast support during these very sad days.
Mum, heaven was made for you!
May you rest in peace!”
The gap left in a home from the loss of a mother just cannot be replaced.
Sources: A few words about our Mother as written and delivered by me at the Requiem Mass to Celebrate the Life of Kathryn O’Reilly, at St. Patrick’s Church, Monkstown Village, Saturday August 4th 2012, 10 am.
– Kathryn O’Reilly Curriculum Vitae as handwritten in the early 1980’s.
What a deep sense of sorrow to hear of Shane’s passing.
The less than 50 words notice of his death in today’s Irish Times, three days after a heart-attack at a Health Services Executive (HSE) -run sheltered housing facility portray a mere name, a faceless statistic. Shane was so much more: A quiet man, a gentle man a straightforward and honest man: As decent a man one could ever hope to meet. Heart-rending are the circumstances that was Shane’s fifty-two years, solitude having become a life sentence.
I have superb abiding memories of First Cousin Shane: A man of considerable, largely unnurtured, artistic talent. The Texaco Children’s Art Competition award he won at St Michael’s College, Ailesbury Road, back in the 1970s being an early indication of such ability, Shane went on to UCD where he attained the Degree of Bachelor of Architecture, a source of great satisfaction for his beloved mother Maureen (http://wp.me/p15Yzr-175) and sister Orla. Recently, Shane painted two miniature exquisite, yet simple, water colour paintings for my Mother, ‘Auntie Kath’. Shane, they will always take pride of place in our house.
Then there was Shane in green overalls fixing show-jumping fences at the Dublin Horse Show’s Aga Khan Cup, a dream summer job. Another memory is Christmas Dinner at our house, a paper hat on his head, a big cigar in his mouth… he was only 17.
He was the first person to call me Nailer.
Shane, Auntie Kath, William, Conor and Nailer are greatly saddened you have departed this world, but we know you will surely rest in peace.
The founder of Quinnsworth in 1969. I was only thinking about him the other day, or rather his helicopter. It must have been 1970 or 1971 but I clearly remember his helicopter landing on a rugby pitch in St. Michael’s College on Ailesbury Road to collect his two sons… a photograph of his instantly recognisable face emblazoned on each side of the helicopter.
Ireland’s retail marketing pioneer, a larger than life never say never man who was big into publicity stunts.
When a business venture soured he would always bounce back!
The sudden passing away of Robert “The Master Butcher” Kochmann is a very sad happening indeed. Even if you didn’t know Robert Kochmann a death so far away from home and his loved ones should give us all pause to reflect on our own circumstances.
Robert Kochmann was the proud Production Manager at Steinbock Original German Sausages (Hangzhou) Ltd (www.steinbock.eu), a Sino-German joint-venture recently established to produce high-quality German meats, including sausages, for the China and Asia markets. There was nothing Robert didn’t know about his produce, particularly his sausages and meatloaf, which I, at last, tasted at CBR’s birthday party back on March 22nd, the last time I talked to Robert.
His sausages were so friggin delicious that I greedily ate five of them, thus denying latecomers a chance to indulge. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of referring to Robert’s meatloaf as Spam, whereupon he spent the next twenty minutes lecturing me on the not so subtle differences. Of course, he was right while I was put to shame.
I only met Robert a handful of times. He was always jovial, always had a good word to say about everyone, and was increasingly happy living in Hangzhou, all the more so since he had found himself a girlfriend.
He always spoke English in a heavy Germanic tone to the point where I think I only understood about 10% of what he was actually saying – luckily the most important 10%. Every time we met he would reminisce about his trip to Killarney in Ireland, orange haired, red cheeked Irish Fraulines, “zat yellow beer zat you drink”, and, curiously, donkeys… I put that down to my 10% understanding, but he certainly had fun in Ireland…
Like all sudden departures from this world, it is always very hard to equate the fact that someone you chatted to not so long ago is no longer alive. Yep, Robert Kochmann was a good man.
Sitting here now I am thinking how I wish I had chatted to him more, to know more of the man he was. I do know he was a French Foreign Legionnaire, and that he had close family and friends back in Germany who will miss the life that passed away so suddenly today Thursday, April 17th, 2008. How aggrieved they must feel to learn that their father, brother, friend has passed away in a foreign land so far away from them.
My thoughts are with Robert’s family and friends.
From one member of the Hangzhou ex-pat community to another
Rest In Peace
2nd May, 2008 – As of today his body lies unclaimed in a refrigerator, inside a Hangzhou city mortuary. Married twice Robert apparently had at least two children, two girls, the youngest of whom is in her teens. His company, Steinbock Original German Sausages, will have him cremated and the ashes will be sent back to Germany. Local Chinese staff and friends in Hangzhou cannot understand the thinking that even his children would not at least want to see him for the last time or claim his body, especially when, apparently, on a monthly basis he would send monies earned to them. Doubtless there is another untold side to this story back in Germany.
18th May, 2008– Since nobody came to claim his body – no one from either his family or a senior management representative from his company back in Germany – Robert, who put so much energy into setting up Steinbock Original German Sausages in Hangzhou, was cremated by the authorities who were planning to post his ashes to a friend in Germany…
21st February, 2009– Robert’s ashes still lie unclaimed by his family. No matter what kind of father / husband he may have been, not even having the common decency to arrange for the repatriation of his ashes to Germany is insensitive at best. More unbelievable is the fact his German employer hasn’t seen fit to make a similar arrangement. What kind of people run (www.steinbock.eu)?