It is with much sadness that we report the recent passing of Eddie Fitzgerald who was an early member of the Tribes Bridge Club which he joined in the early 1970’s. Eddie was one of a group of UCG students at that time who were very active enthusiasts of the game including Rory Timlin, Gay Keaveney, Paddy Walsh, Michael MacDonagh, Sean McInerney, Pat Byrne, Mick Lavelle, Sean Gillan and others, most of whom joined the Tribes Bridge Club.
At club level Eddie’s achievements were modest in proportion to his ability, perhaps reflected by his inability to play more regularly due to work commitments with the Irish Army. And his successes in the Tribes Bridge Club were all achieved in the same competition…The Club T/4 which he won three times and which included an interval of 34 years between the second and third successes.
1974-75 Club T/4 with Rory, Gay and Michael MacDonagh
1981-82 Club T/4 with partner Rory and team-mates Dr Michael Coughlan & Paul Scannell
2016-17 Club T/4 with partner Sean Glynn and team-mates Rory Timlin & Maurice Hession
Eddie re-located to Athlone for several years in the 1980s and 1990s and lost contact with the Tribes Bridge Club during that period. He renewed his membership of the Tribes upon his return to Galway although he was no longer playing club bridge as regularly as in former years.
Eddie was a regular winner of Major National Championships which he achieved with several partners, most notably Rory Timlin and Michael MacDonagh. In chronological order:
1976 Master Pairs with Rory Timlin
1988 – 1991 Eddie won the Shamrock Lodge Trophy - Open Pairs (1963-1992) in FOUR consecutive years with Michael MacDonagh
1990 Holmes Wilson with Rory Timlin and team-mates Gay Keaveney & Paddy Walsh
1993 Kelburne Cup with Michael MacDonaghand team-mates John Cunningham & Tom Hanlon
1994 Revington Cup (Men’s National Pairs Championship) with Michael MacDonagh
1997 Geraldine T/4 (Mens National T/4 Championship) with Michael MacDonagh and team-mates Derek O’Gorman & Terry Walsh
2000 Kelburne Cup with Rory Timlin, Maurice Hession and Gay Keaveney & Enda Glynn
2002 Geraldine T/4 (Mens National T/4 Championship) with Michael MacDonagh, Enda Glynn and Rory Timlin
In recent times, having graduated to Senior status, Eddie, with parttner Michael MacDonagh, scored successive wins in the Pairs Championship of the Seniors Congress over the four year period from 2014 - 2017.
Eddie also had the distinction of winning, with Gay Keaveny, the inaugural Four SessIon Great Southern Hotels Pairs Championship which was an invitation only event held in the early 1980s and which attracted the cream of Irish bridge players from across the land.
Inter-Provincial Championships. Eddie was a staunch supporter and regular member of the Connacht Inter-Provincial Team that represented the province from the early 1980s when Connacht finally emerged as a growing force in this annual Irish Bridge Union event. Eddie was a member of twelve of the Connacht teams that WON this competition during the period 1982 – 2021 and would have been a member on the four other occasions when Connacht won the competition had he been available for selection.
Apart from his proven ability as a player Eddie also made his contribution as an administrator and was elected CBAI President in 1994 and IBU President in 1997.
Whereas his prowess as a player is indisputable Eddie also won praise for his demeanour at the table. He was unfailingly courteous to partner and opponents alike and shared triumphs and disasters with equal magnanimity. And Eddie invariably had a joke / story to relate as his table waited for the next round to start.
I recall an occasion, after a T/4 event where several team-members related their ‘mistakes’ during a post-mortem session. Eddie listened attentively to the confessions from his team-mates and then contributed the following classic line…’Mistake!’, he started...’the last time I made a mistake was when I thought I made a mistake!’ Only Eddie could have thought of, and delivered, such a withering riposte to team-mates!
On another occasion, I had returned to bridge after a five year break and was playing in an Inter-Provincial Championship match. I sat down as north at the appointed table and my partner, Enda Glynn, sat opposite me, the way that we always sat. Eddie duly arrived at the table, and looking at me, he announced “I always sit north and Enda will explain how the scoring is done after the set has been completed.” Enda duly explained that we had to make our way outside of the playing area so that Eddie could enjoy a smoke while we did the scoring! And that’s precisely what we did! Eddie was inimitable!
On yet another occasion, Eddie was playing in a team-of-four competition and his team was leading going into the last round. Eddie gathered his team together for a pep talk, outside of course, and the guidance was straightforward and simple… In his most imperious voice he intoned… ‘If they play a spade you play a spade; if they play a club you play a club; if they play a heart or a diamond you follow suit. Have you got that?’ The team followed his instructions and duly won. You can’t argue with success!
When Eddie and Helen moved to Oranmore a couple of years ago his attendance at the Tribes Bridge Club declined somewhat. But the city club’s loss became Oranmore’s gain. Eddie was invited to join the Oranmore Bridge Club by Roddy Wyer who had also re-located to Oranmore at a similar time. Eddie and Roddy used to share driving duties when playing in the Tribes Bridge Club. Eddie joined the Oranmore Bridge Club in January 2020, a couple of months before Lockdown put a stop to Face to Face bridge. When the club resumed in November 2021 Eddie and Roddy once again shared driving duties, this time to the Oranmore Lodge Hotel for the weekly game of bridge. Eddie played regularly with Joe Lavelle and occasionally with other members. And although Eddie enjoyed the weekly game he particularly appreciated the couple of pints after the game and the accompanying banter. After the few pints Eddie and Roddy would share a taxi home and ‘the car’ was retrieved in the morning. Roddy summed it up succinctly when he said: “He became a much loved member of our club and despite his past heroics in bridge he just loved playing ordinary bridge with ordinary people followed by a few pints and a good chat and banter. He will be sorely missed in Oranmore.’
Yes, Eddie will be sorely missed, not only by members of the Tribes and Oranmore bridge clubs but by all who knew him. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to Helen, sons Stuart and Ed, and daughter Clodagh, and the extended family.
Link to rip.ie for funeral arrangements: www.RIP.ie - Funeral arrangements
Paul J Scannell, Tribes Bridge Club, 23rd May 2022