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.
Use the comment box below if you wish.