It was with a very heavy heart that I learned from Danny by ‘phone message on Friday that Liam had passed away on Thursday night in Orlando. Seemingly he had a heart attack and until his sisters come back from Florida we won’t know much else.
I later talked with Danny and with Joe. It happened to be Danny’s 65th birthday, so not good news on such a memorable day for him.
Liam was a year behind me at Mirfield and we were in the Juniors together and then into the Seniors where the vice-rectors were Ceresoli and Bano. Liam was part of that group of lads who all came from Greenock and, while Scottish, were also of Irish extraction – the last names tell it all. They all seemed to be great soccer players but Liam wasn’t a standout in that department as I remember. He could be as contrary as bedamned then and that never changed as he grew older. We used to talk about the fact that he and I had my only fist fight ever at Mirfield, I was never certain if he had others as he wouldn’t admit to any, but I have my doubts. Fr Bano separated us…..it happened in the 4th year and had something to do with soccer as it was in the recreation room as we changed for a game. I have no idea to this day what it was about and neither did he and we have laughed about it several times when it came up, which it always did on the reunions. That incident served to make our friendship stronger in the way any two brothers will fight and we all at Mirfield had that same bond.
It was an amazing, long gap from 1967 to 2005 when I saw Liam again. Both of us were now bald but as soon as I saw him and he opened his mouth I knew it was Liam. He lived for the reunions, just loved them, no matter where they were he would be at every one, even though he had the greatest distance to come by many a mile. We actually started to make the reunions around his trips to the UK for his business events. Talking of his business, what an interesting one it was. Whoever would have imagined anyone could make a living out of finding keys for people?…Well Liam did.
He couldn’t sing to save his life but he loved the ‘sessions’ we have on reunions and would stay until the bitter end always and constantly asking for particular songs from various people. Another thing about him was his generosity. He always had his room stocked with beers, soft drinks, goodies and so on to make sure that the party would last long into the night as he hated them finishing. He loved being with the guys and never like the goodbyes. There was something there which he knew and we all knew, it was that bond, understood, unspoken and unbroken. Even though it was so many years from when we lived, schooled and played together, he, like the rest of us, knew that we had a camaraderie that could only be explained by the word brotherhood. We were brothers in all but blood and still are and will always be.
I said earlier that he could be contrary when he was at Mirfield and sure enough he was the same in adulthood. That contrariness though was what endeared him to all of us. We were arranging one reunion which took place in Ennis in Co Clare a few years back. We decided that on this particular one we would invite everyone to bring spouses, partners, and family if need be. Liam moaned from across the Atlantic at me saying that would never work. It had to be just the lads, he insisted, wives, etc., would only get in the way and spoil the fun. So Danny and I discussed it and agreed we wouldn’t take our wives. What does Liam do? He arrives proudly sporting on his arm his new fiancée. That was the contrariness in Liam. But as I said, we loved him for it and what a wonderful reunion that was in Ennis, with many a story emanating from it and almost all of them involving Liam…and that’s the truth!.
We will continue to have reunions and another one must come about soon as we must have one in memory of Liam. I know full well that it would be his dearest wish that we get together and remember him, talk about him and smile and laugh in our memories. Being the good ‘old Catholic boys’ that we were/are ..whatever in various cases…it probably would not suit to have a service in that direction as that is probably not what Liam would want anyway and many of us would agree with him on that score. Therefore we will remember him in a joyous reunion soon and raise a glass and sing some songs in his memory.
Please add your memories to this e-mail and copy everyone above and please add on other names of fellow Mirfieldonians who would remember Liam or who would remember being at Mirfeld, as there will be names I cannot remember at this moment who should be on this list.
RIP Liam….the memories will live long with all of us…..until we meet you again at the next reunion -J
In reply to tonyk4.
hello. my brother Liam Gribben lived in Florida, I never knew that he had a heart condition. He was found in his garage yesterday. waiting on coroner’s report. sisters and brother en route just now.he always enjoyed the meet-up with ‘the lads from mirfield’
In reply to degs.
hello. my brother Liam Gribben ex Mirfield died in Florida. awaiting coroner inquest. my sisters and brother are on their way today. Liam always talked about his reunions with Mirfield Lads.
I am very sad and shocked to hear about the untimely death of Liam. He was a stalwart of our reunions and I know these gatherings meant a lot to him. We will all miss him and intend to get together shortly for a special reunion in his memory. R.I.P Liam and thank you for your life and contribution to us all.
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Stories of my time with Liam
We were working in the refectory and he told me that his eldest sister (Theresa?) was going to Arbroath. I misheard him and repeated “Did you say she was going to a brothel?” Well, he chased me around the tables while I was protesting my innocence. He eventually caught me but he didn’t do anything. I guess he got the joke too. By the way if you’re reading this Theresa Liam did pronounce the word as ‘Arbroth’…honest!
He played in the football team. I’m not wrong by saying that football wasn’t Liam’s first love. He just made sure that he could tackle hard and his taller frame meant he was a good mid-field general. In practice games he used to shout at those of us on his team, as the opposition approached our goal: “Dribble him dribble him!” I asked him what he meant, “You know..get the ball, dribble him!” I said “Don’t you mean ‘tackle him’. “It’s the same thing!” he said. That’s why I say that football wasn’t his first love, he didn’t even know the terms or jargon. But he sure put in some beauty tackles.
In Allanton both Liam and I had difficulty growing side-burns as, along with long hair and flares, they were all the fashion at the time. Would’ve died to have sported a pair of Mungo Jerry side-burns but we just couldn’t get the growth. So one day he suggested that we rub some Vaseline into them. If you recall, Liam always kept a small jar of it because he was always getting chapped lips. Anyway, his logic was that it would block the sweat glands and help nourish the hair follicles. It made sense to us, but he wanted me to try it first. I refused because I didn’t want to suffer the recriminations of being the only one as I had a suspicion that he would have refused to do it and I would end up being the lampooned one.
He worked for the Reo Stakis restaurant group and got work there in the summer holidays. He was full of stories about his experiences there and we were impressed. Kevin Benn was so influenced that he asked Liam to write a letter of recommendation for him to work for the Stakis group. Liam did. This was summer 1970. But Kevin left for Liverpool without it. Liam gave it to me to hand on to him. I put it into my coat which, when I got to Liverpool went straight onto the coat rack and eventually ended up in a cupboard in my mum’s house. This is astonishing but I never saw that coat again until 1981, when my mum died and I was cleaning out the cupboards and I found this envelope. I opened it and there was Liam’s handwritten letter. giving a glowing reference for Kevin.
On the Night of The Long Knives, the mass expulsion from Allanton in Feb 1970, Liam was the first one to go into Father Woods office. He went initially to complain about something. He was kept in longer than we expected. Time crept by and it was bedtime. We all went into our rooms and eventually Liam emerged red-eyed. He’d spent all that time convincing Fr Woods not to expel him as the news would kill his mum. Fr Woods agreed to give him a stay of execution, til the end of the academic year (about 3 more months) but all those who followed him that night: Peter Byrne, Martin Hayes and Pat O’Neill, didn’t get the same lenient treatment. They were out on the morning train. I suppose this shows what a persuasive and determined chap he could be when push came to shove. No wonder he made a success as a businessman.
Liam was proudly Scottish. It was Liam who first picked me up on my reference to The Scotch. “That’s a whiskey!” he’d snap. He also used to I wonder if many of you were in the upper school common-room (it was in the old house then) when we were watching the Eurovision Song contest 1968. Lulu was singing ‘Boom Bang A Bang. He loved Lulu, I suspect mainly for her Scottish roots. That year there were 4 songs vying for 1st place. He got so agitated that none of us were getting excited about it that he stood up and went around the room whipping up enthusiasm for Lulu. I think most of us were losing the will to live by then. In 2008 when I went to the first reunion I was standing in the driveway of our lodgings when a car pulled up into view sporting two saltires. I just knew it had to be Liam. The Caledonian King.
I am deeply saddened by the news that Liam has passed. Liam was an extremely important member of the locksmithing industry. I enjoyed every conversation with Liam and was always astounded by his knowledge and wit.
Thank you, Liam! You saved a lot of people’s bacon by keeping the stuff that no one would keep.
Through business over the years, Liam and I became pretty good friends. We would hook up for dinner when we could, talked on the phone. I know more of his personal life than most.
All who know me, know I have lunch at my desk and every day and every day it’s a PB & J sandwich and an apple. The last convention in Reno I was looking through the show when Liam spotted me and I noticed he had a small lunch box with him and a pretty girl. Well Liam had gone through the trouble of bringing a P B & J sandwich just in case I got hungry at the show. We had a good laugh over it at dinner that night.
I just heard that the business is going to re-open and that is a relief to me. They have keys that can’t be had elsewhere and he would pick up European style calendars for me.
Going to miss Liam. I have a big empty slot in my friendship list that is going to be hard to fill.
Rest in peace my friend.
Carroll….I am the pretty girl that accompanied Liam to the Reno convention. He was so proud to take you that PB & J. Liam talked about you all the time and how fond he was of you. You were such excellent company at dinner. Liam was my very best friend in this whole world….most thought him quite contrary but he was always trying to do nice things for me…we were quite inseparable. I am going to be so lost without him.
I am shocked and sad at Liam’s death.Does anyone remember he used lip balm at Mirfield?
I have treasured memories of him and of my visits to his family.
My thoughts are with his family and his Mirfield family.