THE community of Blackrock was saddened by the recent passing of local character Richard Kinch known affectionately as Richie.
Aged 101 Richie was the oldest man in the Parish, passing only a few weeks short of his 102nd birthday.
Given his lifelong association with the village one would be forgiven for thinking that Richie was born here but in fact he was born in County Offaly and with his brothers and sisters he grew up in Dundalk.
During this time Richie would spend many weekends and evenings in his youth cycling out to Blackrock, forming a connection and love of the village which would last forever. It was there that he met and married local girl Mary Smith, while he worked in the GNR in Dundalk.
Richie then settled in a small cottage in Sandy Lane which would be his home for over 85 years, developing great friendships with his neighbours.
Following the closure of the GNR he found employment with the McCann family in their glass houses on the Old Golf Links Road until his retirement in 1977. He made many friends amongst his co-workers who continued to visit him at home after his retirement.
Richie and Mary had one son, Barry, who married Cathy and then moved to Scotland where they raised their three boys. Every year the school holidays brought Richie’s three grandchildren Kevin, Paul and Brian to Blackrock and they fondly remember that he took great pleasure in these visits and spending time with his “Gassons”, as he called them.
After full-time employment Richie would be often seen around the village tending gardens and cutting grass for local families. His own garden was his pride and joy with his greenhouse used for growing his own plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit.
Later years saw Richie take up his stance at the wall, chatting to parents who were taking their children to and from the local school. During this time Richie received the care of his home help and the regular visits of the Parish Priest.
Richie celebrated his 100th birthday in the house receiving cards from every pupil at the school. He was visited on the day by a group of pupils who asked him questions about the days gone by and he posed for photographs with his letter and medal from the President Mary McAleese.
Last year through failing health Richie moved to the Blackrock Nursing Home where he celebrated his 101st birthday again receiving yet another letter and medal, this time from President Higgins. Although his stay at the home was short, it was filled with love, care and attention from all the staff.
Richie leaves behind a grieving family who have been overwhelmed by the kind messages and support from neighbours and villagers alike.