“Joe Cafolla was a kind man and one of a kind,” said long time friend Fr Conor McConville at his funeral in Lurgan.
Joe, a highly respected businessman who owned a cafe and ice-cream parlour in the town, passed away on Sunday morning aged 71.
He had been battling cancer for just over a year.
At his Requiem Mass in St Paul’s Church today Fr McConville said the family had been through quite a lot over the past year as his sister Anna Baillie passed away earlier this year.
Born the son of Delia and Andy 71 years ago in Black’s Court Lurgan, Joe was the third generation of an Italian family who came here in the early 20th century.
Fr McConville said: “They integrated into the community through business, primarily their restaurant and ice-cream parlour which was a feature of Lurgan and known across the country.”
He spoke of Joe meeting and marrying the love of his life, Angela O’Hagan, and the couple’s two children Lisa and Maria. And the family grew with Brian Lennon coming into the family and the birth of the grandchildren Delia, Meabh and Niall.
“Joe had great love for them and loved to be in their company. He was a great family man.”
A packed St Paul’s Church heard the priest say there that many facets to Joe - the question was ‘where do you start’.
“History is peppered with characters and some characters are larger than life, some characters can be legends and myths. Cafollas are part of the history of this town and Joe is part of that history.
“Joe was a constant figure there in Cafollas. Going into the Carnegie St cafe was always great craic, particularly with the two characters Joe and Brendan Gilmore who could have taken the mickey out of you. The two of them worked together for 46 years.
Joe was a very generous soul and the priest spoke of how he had sometimes gone to Cafollas and Joe would insist on giving him a tub of his famous ice cream.
“Many people experienced Joe’s generosity over the years,” he said.
He spoke of how Angela introduced Joe to Clann na Gael and he became a regular at matches and post match celebrations, singing a few songs, messing about and tomfoolery’.
“Joe loved sports, soccer, football, clay pigeon-shooting and he did a bit of horse-riding. He was always involved in a lot of sports.
“I remember Joe over 36 years ago in the LCA (Lurgan Catholic Association). Joe loved to play snooker. He was always great fun. He also loved boxing and trips to Las Vegas,” said Fr McConville.
“Joe was always great company to be in. You always had a great commentary, great camaraderie and great comedy.
“With some people if you are in their company they could drain you. That certainly was not the case with Joe Cafolla.
“Joe gave you life and energy because he was full of life himself, such a jovial character. He energised you and lifted you up. He was a great guy to be in his company.
“Joe had a great love of life and for his family. Joe was a larger than life character. He was a bit of a showman,” he said recalling stories of Joe and his unusual tactics playing snooker.
“One thing everyone says about Joe, he was a kind and he was one of a kind.”
His passing is very deeply regretted by his loving wife, Angela, daughters, Maria and Lisa son-in-law, Brian, grandchildren, Delia, Meabh and Niall, Maria’s partner Aidy and family circle.
Family flowers only please, donations in lieu if desired to Macmillan Nurses c/o Jack McLearnon & Son Funeral Directors 75 North Street, Lurgan BT67 9AH.