The Day the Music Died: a tribute to Eamonn O’Loghlin

MH3 —  January 9, 2013

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It was much too late on Sunday, November 26th, 2005 (admittedly it was probably early the 27th) when I first heard the music.

The notes bounced off the the high ceilings and dramatic windows of the Pan Pacific lobby, inspired by the magical fingers of Maestro Eamonn O’Loghlin. Surrounded by a posse of enthusiastic conference goers and some of my staff, Eamonn led us through chorus after chorus of O’Canada, Danny Boy, and American Pie!

I hadn’t seen this side of Eamonn before that night. Until then, I knew him as the super-cheery Director of Sponsorship for the Canadian National Exhibition, who first called me years earlier about an emergency with one of our activations at the Ex. Thankfully the problem passed and even more fortunate for me, a friendship sprung up.

If you knew Eamonn, you knew he was more than a stalwart of our industry. He was a most fierce advocate of all things Irish. Publisher of Irish Connections Canada, host of an Irish radio show, and even interim President of the Irish Canadian Immigration Center. He was an accomplished musician, a tireless volunteer, and a fearless entrepreneur.

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But as the keynote speaker at his funeral this week said, words cannot describe Eamonn, for he was larger than life. Yes, I said funeral.

On January 4th, the music died. Suddenly. Tragically. Inexplicably. Eamonn was taken from his admirers.

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I’ve just returned from his funeral and my hands are numb as I type this. My fingers don’t want to extend to my keyboard. They are rebelling. Fighting back. Fighting back so hard. Trying to tell me that there is no way Eamonn is dead. My skin tingles. My throat is turned inside out. My chest is in pain.

I think when people die, their obituaries talk about how unique an individual was. How loved they were. I am not doubting that. Every death brings sadness. Every death brings despair. But we also know that most deaths reach a limited pool of people. Not Eamonn’s. No sir, this man was loved. Far. Wide. Universally. Internationally.

His funeral today was easily a thousand people. Last night I waited nearly two hours in line at his visitation. But the wait didn’t bother me. It allowed me to reflect on a great man. A man who had an impact that few of us could ever make. A man who touched hundreds, thousands, and left everyone with a smile. A man who you just wish could join you one last time on a bar stool for a pint or the first tee for a round of eighteen.

He would tease and joke with you, yet still deliver so much to his friends. At the 2010 sponsorship forum in Whistler, it was his word to John Furlong that resulted in the Olympic leader delivering an impromptu speech to my conference delegation. That was probably my most satisfying moment in business. I am not sure if I said thanks to Eamonn…..

Eamonn 5Writing this brings me back to that night seven years ago. The sing-song at the Pan Pacific resulted in a hotel security complaint about a “large foreigner” who wouldn’t stop playing the piano and a “man of colour” who kept shouting “I own this hotel”. I think we told any unsuspecting victim this yarn one-hundred times since. I think sometimes that’s the definition of friendship, being able to repeat the same stupid stories and laugh like it was your first telling.

Oh Eamonn, how I would like to tell that story one-hundred and ONE more times with you.

11 responses to The Day the Music Died: a tribute to Eamonn O’Loghlin

  1. Mark – first allow me to offer my condolences to you at the loss of your great friend. Second, allow me to compliment you on your poignant and eloquent tribute. We should all be so lucky in this world to have such a friend in you as Eamonn clearly did.

    Sheryl Hunt

  2. Condolences to you and all that knew him. As well, what a very moving tribute to a very dear friend. May his memory live on and let’s keep a smile for him in his honour.

  3. Mark,
    I shared a cab with Eamonn to the airport in Montreal after the Sponsorship Forum this past summer and felt an instant connection. We shared some jokes, chatted about our mutual friend John Furlong and promised to connect when i was next in Toronto over a Guinness. I’m sad that we wont get the chance to have that beer but I promise that when you and I next meet we’ll toast Eamonn together! Thanks for a wonderful tribute.

  4. Michelle Hurley January 11, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Mark,
    I met you a few weeks back in the participction meeting at Coke (I work for Coke. I was the pregnant one beside you.)
    That was a very nice tribute you wrote to Eamonn. (I love your story about the piano at the conference).
    Eamonn is a relative of mine (my father gave the eulogy at the funeral), and this week has been a real testament to the number of lives he touched.
    Take care,
    Michelle

    • Michelle

      Your father’s eulogy was fantastic. He is a great speaker. There were a few of us from my company at Eamonn’s funeral and they were all blown away by the tribute.

      So sorry for your loss.

  5. Gilbert Estephan January 14, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Mark,
    Your eloquent tribute, is a lasting testament of how much Eamonn has enriched our lives, just by having known him. Eamonn was a close colleague of mine that had inspired me professionally and personally – thank you for your moving tribute to a dear friend.

  6. Thank you Mark! Wonderfully written and so…so…true. We all miss him greatly.

  7. Beautiful words Mark. Eamonn was a friend to so many people and we really miss him. If we could each do just 10% of what Eamonn did for others, the world would be a better place.

  8. Mark,
    Thank you so much for writing this terrific tribute to Eamonn .
    Mr.O , was such a wonderful person and great friend and we will all miss him.

  9. Beautifully written Mark – you really captured him perfectly!

    Take good care – Bruce