Cup Legacy of School Principal

By Robert Cullen

Sligo Weekender, March 22nd, 2002

On September 8, 2001 Mr Jim Neafsey passed away at the age of 91, but the cup that bears his name will live on.

Jim Neafsey arrived in Rosses Point in 1950, taking over as Principal of the recently opened Realt Na Mara National School in the heart of the village.
In 25 years as principal he taught generations of Rosses Pointers how to read and write.
Following his retirement he remained an active member of the community, and could often be seen walking around the village talking to the many who knew him.
His desire for the Neafsey Cup was always to live on long after he was gone.
In 1988 a group of locals, which included this year’s Neafsey Cup winner John Armstrong, decided to do more than just acknowledge they “must get together for a round of golf”.
They set a date and said they would play for a ponger, nothing more grand than a tin can. The ponger was duly found, and the event took place.
Jim Neafsey was asked to present the ponger to the winner, and he dutifully did, but later swore they would never play for a tin can again.
True to his word, Mr Neafsey presented the organisers with a cup. He laid down only two stipulations, that it must only be open to past pupils of Realt Na Mara N.S. and that it be continued long after he had passed away.
David Cunningham was the first man presented with the Neafsey Cup, in 1989.
Over the intervening thirteen years it has proven a highlight of the Co. Sligo Golf Club calendar, bringing locals and past pupils from overseas back to the one venue.
Despite ailing health, Mr Neafsey presented the cup to the winner almost every year. His absence this year was felt by many.
John Armstrong said he was saddened that he should win it the year Jim is not around to present it to him.
“Jim used to tell me that he wouldn’t be over this year to present the cup and then he’d arrive in at the last moment. I still expect him to come in the door any minute now,” he said
As it’s namesake intended, the competition will continue for many years, with current generations of pupils still eligible to take part.