COURTESY OF WILLY CLINGAN
Many warm tributes have been paid to leading player Seán O’Lubaigh, who died in Dublin on 26 July after a long illness. Bridge players have been remembering him fondly, not only for his considerable playing abilities, but also for the good humour and fun he brought to the table and the kindness and generosity he showed to so many people both in bridge and beyond.
Seán was an engineer by profession who became a successful businessman. He built a fine art collection and developed a deep interest in archaeology, often taking part in digs abroad.
Although a private person, he was a generous bon viveur. On bridge trips abroad, Seamus Dowling said the best way to identify a good restaurant or hotel was to find out where Seán was eating or staying. Even when things did not quite work out, Seán made sure the experience was still one to remember, Martin Brady recalls that he and Seán stepped out for something to eat on New Year’s Eve during Tralee Congress and found nothing open apart from McDonald’s. The food order was straightforward, but then Sean bemused the staff by asking for the wine list.
He played bridge at club, national and international level. In June 2003, with one of his regular partners Paul Delaney, he played in the first European open bridge championships in Menton won by the top US pair Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell. During a fortnight of extreme heat in a venue without air conditioning, many of the 331 pairs dropped out, but Seán and Paul hung in to finish 6th in the C Pairs final.
He played several times on senior international teams with team mates of the highest calibre, including Joe MacHale, Alex Montwill, Michael McGloughlin and many more. In May 2019, he was on Ireland’s winning team in the Corn Cairdis match against England.
Like many players, he switched to online bridge when Covid-19 struck, and it was “service as normal” as he won the teams event in the 2020 Yeats Country Online Charity Bridge Congress with Martin Brady, David Dunne and Wojciech Gorczyca.
In summary, Seán was an excellent and inventive player, a keen student of the game, a gracious opponent, and a kind, generous, and witty man who was always the best of company. We will all miss him greatly.
APPRECIATION BY MICHAEL MCAULIFFE
Anyone who spent any length of time in Seán’s company will have noticed above all his sense of fun, his wit and impish sense of humour, and his general “twinkle-in-the-eye” approach to life and its little absurdities. He particularly delighted in wordplay, and it’s no surprise that when he and others developed a bidding system in recent years the name chosen for it was left to him; since it was a variant of the Polish Club system, it could be thought of as an Irish Club system, he said – and so they called it Shillelagh!
His sense of fun applied when at the bridge table too, with occasional adventurous or “off-piste” bids or plays which could leave his partners behind!
But those of us who were lucky to get to know Seán well realized that there was much more besides. He was a kind, generous, considerate man, who loved and was very close to his sisters, nephews and nieces, and extended family. He was cultured, well-read and well-travelled, with a wide and eclectic range of interests, which along with his general intellectual curiosity made him a great conversationalist, and kept him active and engaged with the world in a way that would probably shame some people half his age.
In short, a rare individual and character who will be much missed.