In Memoriam - Cormac Ó Braonáin

Garrett Kennedy remembers Cormac Ó Braonáin. Originally published in print 28/11/2020

I knew Cormac from the HQ Dartry scout troop. I remember when he first joined cubs. There were two years between us, and I thought he was the most annoying person I had ever met. He would never stop talking. He was so passionate and energetic, even for an eight-year-old. I remember going home every Monday night complaining to my family about this Cormac lad. 

I went up to scouts the following year and two years later, he followed. He still had the same passion and energy, but it was an asset rather than a vice. He could still be incredibly annoying. In fact, he frequently was. He still never stopped talking and was constantly the centre of attention. But he was also hilarious and curious. A particularly vivid memory is him, as an eleven-year-old, doing a stand-up routine consisting mostly of impressions and repeating the phrase ‘packo crips’ by a campfire. 

A lot of the talk around Cormac has been about everything he achieved. This is no bad thing given the scale of his achievements. However, I think what is more important is how he achieved it and who he was as he was achieving it. What I find most impressive is not that he was so heavily involved in so many different groups but the influence he had in all of them. Labour Youth, HQ scouts, and even Scouting Ireland are all different and better places as a result of him being there. The kindness, self-belief, and independence of thought he brought into them, combined with his energy and passion allowed him to change them all for the better. We can only imagine what he would have been able to do if he had more time. 

What is perhaps more important still is the person he was as he was doing it. Everything he did, he did with a smile on his face. He was full of fierce, unyielding craic. My sister describes him as the only person who was as mean to her as my brother and I, and that was probably him being gentle. He was constantly singing or shouting, always doing something. After twelve years, I still never learnt how to shut him up. 

Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.