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 Kildare Observer 14 September 1912

Obituary. Death of Mr. W. J. Gray

It becomes our painful duty this week to chronicle the death of Mr. William John Gray, eldest son of the late Mr. W. S. Gray, founder of this Journal. He attended Cork Park races last week in his professional capacity as special correspondent of “Sport,” and on his return journey on Thursday became ill and was taken from the train to Kildare Infirmary, where despite the unremitting care of Dr. Edmund Coady and the excellent nursing staff, he passed away early on Monday morning.

The funeral took place on Wednesday from Kildare, followed by a very large cortege. The remains were taken to St. David’s Church, Naas, where they were met by the Rev. E. W. Clover, B.D. (Rector), and the Rev. W. A. Campion (Curate), and the first portion of the burial service read and Hymn No. 14 sung by the choir. They were then conveyed to the family burial ground at Maudlins and the service concluded.

The chief mourners were – Messrs. W. S. Gray and E. R. Gray (sons), Messrs. E. I. Gray, F. M. Gray, A. C. Gray and E. B. Gray (brothers), Messrs. Charles P. Treacy and J. McNerney (brothers-in-law), Mr. J. T. Gough (cousin).

Amongst those present were – Rev. R. S. Chaplin (Kildare), Rev. P. Campion, P.P. (Kildare); Very Rev. N. A. Staples, O.C.C. (Prior, White Abbey, Kildare); Rev. E. W. Clover, B.D., Rector (Naas); Rev. W. A. Campion, B.A. (Naas); Rev. P. J. O’Brien, C.C. (Glencullen); Mr. J. W. Dane, D.L.; Brig-Gen. Waldron, Mr. K. L. Supple, C.I.; Dr. E. T. Coady (Kildare), Dr. D. P. Coady (Naas), Mr. G. Maxwell, D.I. (Kildare); Mr. J. P. Moore, J.P.; Mr. J. J. Murphy, J.P.; Mr. F. C. Burke, D.I. (Naas); Mr. M. Fitzsimmons, J.P.; Mr. Thomas Ritchie, Mr. Alex Thunder, Manager Hibernian Bank (Naas); Mr. Richard Gannon, J.P.; Mr. R. H. Falkiner, Mr. Falkiner, junr. (Newbridge); Mr. Thomas Shaw, D.C.; Dr. W. P. Murphy (Naas), Mr. Joseph Gorry, Dr. M. R. Morrisey (Kill), Mr. W. A. Lanphier, solicitor (Naas); Mr. P. Cox (Newbridge), Mr. Jas. O’Hanlon (Naas), Mr. Anthony Metcalfe, J. P.; Mr. D. J. Cogan, Mr. L. J. Cogan (Dublin), Mr. E. Glover, Co. Surveyor; Dr. L. F. Rowan, Mr. J. S. O’Grady, J.P.; Dr. O’Donel Browne, Mr. F. Bergin, C.E.; Mr. Robert Gannon D.C.; Mr. Thomas Langan, Secretary Co. Council; Mr. D. J. Purcell, Clerk of Union; Mr. Joseph O’Neill, D.C.; Mr. M O’Brien (Celbridge), Mr. James D. Coady (Borris), Mr. Robt. Coffey, D.C.; Mr. Timothy Flood, Mr. W. T. M. Brown, V.S.; Mr. William Staples (Naas), Mr. G. Bermingham (Naas), Mr. J. J. Inglis, C.E.; Mr. J. M. Whelan, C.E. (Dublin); Mr. P. Sheridan (Newbridge), Mr. T. Brophy (Herbertstown), Mr. James Conway, Mr. J. Flanagan, Mr. J. Confrey (Naas), Mr. Edward Gee (Newbridge), Mr. D. J. Quinn, C.E.; Mr. E. A. Coonan (Rathcoffey), Mr. L. J. Colgan, D.C. (Clane); Mr. J. J. Conway (Naas), Mr. W. Masterson, Mr. G. Sargent, Mr. M. Gogarty, U.D.C; Mr. W. McCormack, U.D.C.; Mr. J. T. Rattray, Mr. T. R. Gibson, Mr. R. J. Carter, Mr. C. Curran, Mr. A. Fay (Naas), Mr. James Maher (Two-Mile-House), Mr. J. Boyle (Town Clerk, Naas), Mr. Thomas Whelan, Mr. John Malone, Mr. J. Burke (Eadestown), Mr. W. Curtis (Kilmeague), Mr. Bruce Robinson, Mr. N. J. Flanagan, Mr. M. J. Dunne, U.D.C.; Mr. P. Charleton, D.C. (Newbridge); Mr. James Kennedy (Naas), Mr. J. E. Butterfield, U.D.C. (Naas); Mr. M. Treacy, Mr. J. Treacy, Mr. W. Treacy, Mr. J. Lawler, Mr. T. Lawler (Halverstown), Mr. R. Malone, Mr. T. Morrin, Mr. Peter Kelly, J.P. (Newbridge); Mr. Thos. P. Lee, D.C. (Newbridge); Mr. T. O’Rourke (Newbridge), Mr. J. Mallick (Athgarvan), Mr. Thomas McDermott, Mr. J. Kelly (Naas), Mr. E. Doyle, D.C.; Mr. H. J. Dillion, Mr. J. Fanning, Mr. P. Broe, Mr. P. Power, Mr. G. Broe (Straffan), Mr. J. J. Flanagan, D.C.; Mr. J. P. Healy, D.C. (Sallins); Mr. O. Smith, Mr. E. Marum, Mr. N. J. Swan (Bodenstown), Mr. J. Quinn, Co.C.; Mr. M. Foynes, Mr. D. Dunne, Mr. Thos. M’Cann, Mr. John Pendred, Mr. T. I. Llewellyn, Mr. C. Ryan (Newbridge), Mr. A. Stynes, Mr. T. Conlan, Mr. J. Whelan, Mr. J. Cummins, Mr. J. J. Murphy (Newbridge), Mr. M. J. Duggan, Mr. M. A. Salmon, Mr. P. Sammon, Mr. W. Valentine, Mr. J. R. White (Naas), Mr. W. M. Hunt, Mr. James Dowling, U.D.C. (Naas); Mr. W. Dowling (Naas), Mr. Loftus Hayden, Mr. J. Comerford, , Mr. P. Berney (Naas), Mr. D. Corcoran, Mr. J. Hyland (Naas), Mr. John Doran (Naas), Mr. B. J. Gogarty (Naas), Mr. E. Sargent, Mr. W. Hoysted, Mr. P. Cunningham (Naas), Mr. John Thompson (Curragh), Mr. John Doyle (Curragh), Mr. Michael Dawson (Rathbride Manor), Mr. F. Hunter, Mr. W. Watson, Mr. R. Harrison (Kildare), Mr. J. J. Parkinson, J.P. (Curragh); Mr. M. J. J. Whelan, Sec. Co. Committee; Mr. J. R. Halsall, Mr. P. Field, Mr. W. Tyndall (Naas), Mr. S. Wray, jun.; Mr. D. Sheridan (Naas), Mr. Thomas Wade (Agricultural Instructor), Mr. J. J. Devlin (“Leinster Leader”), Mr. S. O’Kelly (do.), Mr. F. Fahy (do.), Mr. Walter Russell, F.R.C.V.S. (representing Cork Park Club); Mr. James Healy, Mr. Joseph Connolly (Pollardstown), Mr. Thos. E. Healy (“Sport”), Mr. P. J. Healy (“Independent”), Mr. J. W. Frith (“Irish Times”), Mr. J. P. Hartigan, Mr. F. H. Clarke (representing Leopardstown Club), Mr. J. J. Condon, Mr. T. B. Burgess, Mr. F. B. Dineen (“Sport”), Mr. J. Wheeler, Mr. C. O’Shea (Naas), Mr. B. Connell, Mr. C. Connell (Naas), Mr. D. Patterson, Mr. Patterson, jun. (Naas); Mr. J. Grehan, Mr. P. Doran, Mr. P. Behan, Mr. A. Anthony, Mr. Michael Dennihey, Mr. T. Miller, Mr. J. Jones, Mr. M. Higgins, Mr. T. Tyrrell (Naas), Mr. John Shiel, Mr. J. Carroll, Mr. A. Eagleton, Mr. James McArthur (Kildare), Master Joseph Brophy, Mr. W. Glennon, Mr. J. H. Clinton (Newbridge), Mr. John Donnelly (Baltracy), Mr. P. Doyle (Naas), Mr. F. V. Devere (“Kildare Observer”), Mr. W. Matthews (do.), Mr. R. Semmence (do.), Mr. W. Cragg (do.), Mr. T. Fegan, Mr. C. Heffernan (Kildare), Mr. E. Heffernan (Kildare), Mr. E. O’ Neill (Knavenstown), Mr. Thomas Hanna, C.P.S. (Naas); Mr. James Nolan, Mr. S. Bratton, C.P.S. (Kildare); Mr. P. Talbot, Mr. F. Burke, Mr. J. Cosgrove, Mr. P. O’Brien (Kildare), Mr. J. J. O’Driscoll, Mr. W. Doyle (Messrs Slattery, Tralee), Mr. D. Carberry, Mr. F. Fitzpatrick, Mr. Joseph Dunne, Mr. J. Hennessy, Mr. M. Reidy, Mr. John Jennings, Mr. J. Taylor, Mr. C. Rowell, Mr. J Corry, D.C.; Mr P. Moore, Mr. J. Moore (Kildare), Mr. R. G. Mesias (Dublin), Mr. C. M’Nab, Mr. Joseph Bergin, Mr. Thomas Harris, Mr. W. Harfleet, Mr. Thomas Sex (Newbridge), Mr J. Gaffney, Mr. Thomas Legg, Mr. J. Lee, Mr. A. A. Short, Mr. H. Grady, Mr. T. O’Brien, Mr. T. Callaghan, Mr. S. Garry, Mr. J. Robinson, Mr. P. Talbot, Mr. Spillang, Mr. Jackson (Kildare), Mr. W. Blackford, Mr. D. M’Donald, Mr. M. Salmon, Mr. R. Keyes, Mr. J. Bermingham, Mr. P. Bermingham, Mr. J. Harrington, Mr. P. Farrell, Mr. A. Farrell. The police of Kildare were represented by Head-Constable O’Grady and Sergt. Faherty and Constable Armstrong.

The following were unavoidably absent – Mr. P. A. Maguire, Manager Ulster Bank; Mr. E. P. O’Kelly, M.P.; the Rev. J. Rogers Boyd, Mr. W. J. Fennell, J.P.; Mr. Earnest Murphy, Mr. S. Malone, J.P.; Mr. W. Hayton, Mr. Thomas Harte, Mr. Vincent Murray, Cork; Mr. C. W. Brindley, Mr. C. W. Frith, Mr. P. J. Doyle, J.P.; Mr. P. J. Ginnane, Athy; Mr. W. J. Coffey, V.S.; Mr. Frank Shortt, Celbridge; Mr. S. J. Brown.

Wreaths were sent by members of the family and the staff of the “Kildare Observer.”


We regret to announce the death of Mr. William Gray, who has for so many years been connected with the sporting side of Irish journalism. Although for some months back he had been in failing health, he was well enough to attend Cork Park meeting last week in the discharge of his duties, but it was on the return journey from the southern fixture that he was overtaken by the illness which terminated fatally on Monday morning at Kildare Infirmary, whither he was conveyed from the Cork train on Thursday night.


A well-known and popular figure amongst the sporting journalists of Dublin has been removed by the death of Mr. W. J. Gray, which took place on Monday in the Kildare Infirmary. Mr. Gray attended Cork Park races on Thursday last, and being suddenly seized with illness on the return journey, he was conveyed in an unconscious condition to the Kildare Infirmary.


It is with the deepest regret we announce the death of Mr. W. Gray, who had been a member of the sporting staff of this journal for so many years. The sad event occurred on Monday morning at 5 o’clock at the Infirmary Kildare, where the deceased had been lying since Thursday night last. On that date he was returning from Cork Park Races, and became suddenly ill enroute. On reaching Kildare he was conveyed to the Infirmary, and despite the unremitting care and attention of Dr. Coady and the medical staff, Mr. Gray never rallied and passed away on Monday morning.

There were few better known figures in Irish sporting circles than the deceased gentleman, who for many years filled the responsible position of editor of “Sport.” Than him there were few better judges of horse and hound, and in the coursing world his opinion was always highly respected and acknowledged as most reliable. Under the nom-de-plume of “White Collar,” his descriptions and accounts of the leading coursing events in this country were eagerly looked forward to with keen interests. In fact his general all-round knowledge of sporting matters commanded general respect and attention. During the past few months his health had not been of the best, and it was thought that the change of air and environment brought about by the attending of outdoor sporting functions might benefit his constitution. In consequence the late Mr. Gray was recently seen frequently at the leading race meetings as representative of this paper, and he appeared to have been much improved in health during the last month. Therefore the news of his sudden seizure, and its subsequent fatal termination, comes as a painful shock to all especially those whose pleasure it was to come into almost daily contact with his genial, good-hearted person. Mr. Gray’s connection with journalism began with his association with his late father on the “Kildare Observer,” the property of the Gray family. Coming to Dublin, he joined the staff of the “Irish Sportsman,” leaving which he became sporting editor on the “National Press” amalgamated with the “Freeman’s Journal.” This position he held with distinction until 1895, in which year he was appointed editor of “Sport.” He leaves a widow and two sons, to whom general sympathy will be extended in their bereavement.


We regret to announce the death of Mr. W. Gray, a well-known member of the sporting staff of the “Freeman’s Journal.” He took ill while returning from Cork Park Races on Thursday, and was removed in an unconscious condition from the train at Kildare and conveyed to the Infirmary, but despite the unremitting care and attention of the medical staff he never rallied and death ensued on Monday morning. Mr. Gray’s connection with journalism began with his association with his late father on the “Kildare Observer.” There were fewer better known figures in Irish sporting circles, and few better judges of horse and hound. In the coursing world his opinion was always highly respected and acknowledged as most reliable. In fact, his all-round knowledge of sporting matters commanded general respect and attention. He was a warm favourite with his colleagues, and his widow and two sons will receive wide-spread sympathy in their sore bereavement.


We deeply regret to announce the death of Mr. W. J. Gray, for many years connected with the sporting [     ] in Dublin which took place in Kildare Infirmary on Monday last. Mr. Gray attended Cork Park Races last week, and meeting with a sudden illness in the train on the return journey got off at Kildare and entered the Infirmary. His death removes one of the best known sporting journalists in Ireland. He was highly esteemed both amongst his colleagues and by the very large number with whom he was brought in contact in the racing and coursing worlds. His early demise leaves a void which will be very hard to fill. His genial manner endeared him to all, and his help and advice were always at the disposal of those that sought them.


The death of Mr. William J. Gray removes from the ranks of Irish sporting journalists a gentleman who had [a] long and honourable association with various branches of sport. He was a well-known figure on the racecourse, and the coursing fields, and his departure from amongst us has created a void and left us to grieve for a friend. It can be stated with perfect truth that the deceased was possessed of a frank and upright character. Though essentially one given to forming his own view of the worth of men and things – how well we knew poor William’s expression – “Well it is my opinion,” when anyone joined issue with him on any point – we have not in our mind a recollection of any view being tinged with venom. Nor was there in his writings anything that the most sensitive could take objection to. Outspoken his review on any subject might be, but never was it bitter, even when, true to the character he possessed, he wrote what he conceived to be fair and honest criticism. He penned his articles on racing and coursing – the latter was always his pet theme – in an able and interesting style, his essays being backed up by a wide and extended experience. He brought to bear on his work a keenness which was reflected in his jottings by the presentation of a view at once novel and fresh. He loved to reach the heart of the matter which he was about to treat of, the picturesque language he cut out of his repertoire, and though his mode might be unorthodox, there underlay all his writings a sound, well-balanced judgement, born of close association and an intimate acquaintance with what he chose to hold discourse upon. Mr. Gray was not a man who shouted with the crowd; he was not swayed in his opinion by what others might say or do; he judged for himself and was guided accordingly. Nor yet did he seek to impose his influence on those with whom he came in contact, whether they were members of his staff or mere acquaintances. His point of view was his own, and there it rested, save when he was called upon to voice it in his journalistic capacity. It can never be said that even once did William Gray depart from the straight line. The thought of immediate gain or possible favours was not his objective. He aimed to be a man and right nobly he realised that aim. Faults and failings he had – but who is he that is perfect amongst us? – but these were not of the mean or unmanly type. And now that he is gone, mourned by his family and sincerely regretted by all, is there one amongst us who will come forth and say, “He was venial?” His worth as a man, a true friend, and a capable journalist, stood the test of years. He lived amongst us for forty-nine years, and now has gone the way of all flesh – but his noble and unsullied character remains a testimony to his sterling worth, and this will endure when the monument reared over his corpse has crumbled away. We who write thus knew the deceased intimately – his thoughts, wishes and aspirations, his character – perhaps even better than he knew it himself. We write of a knowledge of twenty years – years which have witnessed many unexpected happenings, years in which we might almost say the seeming impossible has happened – and not once during that long time can we say that William Gray, by word or suggestion, said or hinted anything that might not become a man. More than that, he was ever ready to lend a helping hand to any in need of it, and often he did so even at great personal sacrifices. When it was possible to do so, he used his best endeavours towards ameliorating the condition of those less fortunately placed than himself, and we could speak of specific instances in which he spared neither time nor energy achieving a kindly action for those who made appeal to him. Verily, it may be written that the deceased made generous efforts for others more so than he did for his own advancement. His friends were many and sincere. Under a brusque exterior he had a kindly heart, and while the very reverse of demonstrative, those friendships that he made were never broken. His colleagues – those he mixed with every day – were fully cognisant of his worth and his readiness to assist them in any situation where his advice and guidance were sought, as they had been sought so often.

An enthusiastic sportsman, the pastime in which his very heart centred was coursing. He loved a day with “the dogs,” and was want to expatiate on the genuine sport that coursing was. His criticisms on the running and merits of greyhounds were keen and well-balanced, and in the files of “Sport” we preserve his notes and jottings – these, full of interest, revealing by the mode of their expression the working of a master mind. No long and laboured reports did William give; he believed in brevity; a few simple, direct phrases expressive of his views, and his work was done. Racing and its concomitants, breeding and training, he favoured; but we do not do him an injustice when we convey that he was not so much in his element at racing as he was at coursing. Full well he knew the finer points of the national pastimes; was an acknowledged judge of the points of a horse, and ably discoursed on happenings on the racecourse; he always had a longing for the advent of the coursing season. In an unpretentious way, the deceased was a breeder of thoroughbreds and gained some success in that enterprise, thanks to his knowledge of pedigrees.

For years before coming to Dublin Mr. Gray spent a probationary period in his native town, Naas, Co. Kildare, in his father’s office, whence issued the “Kildare Observer” newspaper. Mr. Gray intended his son to follow the legal profession, and with that object in view apprenticed him to a firm of solicitors in the city; but our late colleague had notions of his own, and secured a position on the “Irish Sportsman.” Later on he was invited to take control of the sporting department of the “National Press” (now and for some years past merged in the “Freeman’s Journal), and in 1893 under the editorship of the late Mr. Healy, Mr. Gray undertook the reporting of coursing for “Sports”. On the retirement of Mr. Healy from the editorial chair of that paper in 1895, Mr. Gray was appointed responsible, and at the same time in his hands was placed the control of the sporting department of the “Freeman’s Journal.” During the last couple of years it was all too obvious that his health was in the decline, and he relinquished the editorship of “Sport” last July, devoting himself to the reporting of race meetings and shows for that paper as well as the “Freeman’s Journal,” and he had intended – alas the dispensation of an all-wise Providence ordered it otherwise – contributing articles on coursing and stud matters. Last week he attended Cork Park race meeting in the round of his duties, and when returning on Thursday evening became ill, and up to the hour of his death, which occurred on Monday morning at 5 o’clock, he had been under skilled medical attention at Kildare Infirmary. The attention he received was unremitting, but his hour had come and he passed away peacefully amidst his friends and in his native county, which he loved so well.


A special meeting of the Irish Journalists’ Association was held on Monday in the rooms of the Association, Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin, for the purpose of expressing regret at the death of Mr. William Gray, who was for many years connected with “Sport.”

Mr. J. B. Hall presided, and amongst those present were – Messrs. R. M. Hooper, R. Macrory, J. T. Carroll, Kevin Brayden, B. Kelleher, M. Lennane, M. Birmingham, M. J. Cleere, A. J. Conway, J. C. Lawler, R. J. O’Dwyer, D. J. Lysaght, George McDonagh, Jerome Condon, T. B. Burgess, J. O’Keeffe, T. F. O’Sullivan, J. C. Hawe, Pierce Beazley, M. F. McGrenaghan, P. T. Montford (hon. secretary), T. P. O’Hanlon, P. J. Meade, A. J. Murphy, C. P. O’Donoghue, J. F. McNamara, John McGrath.

Letters of apology and expressing regret were received from Messrs. J. F. Ring, Wm. C. Chillingworth, J. J. Ryce, A. W. Garbutt, Wm. Stewart, Marcus Trench, L. Beazley, and P. J. Lynch.

On the motion of the Chairman, seconded by Mr. R. M. Hooper, and supported by Messrs. Lawlor, M. J. Lennane and M. Birmingham, the following resolution was adopted: –

“That we learn with deep regret of the death of our old friend and colleague, Mr. William Gray, and tender to his widow and family the respectful expression of our sincere condolences.”

A delegation was appointed on behalf of the Association to attend the funeral.


At Naas Board of Guardians on Wednesday, Mr. Gogarty presiding.

The Chairman said there was a matter he would like to bring before the guardians, the sad death of Mr. William J. Gray. He was a member of an old and respected family in the County Kildare, and both himself and his family have been connected with this board for a number of years, and he thought the following resolution would meet with their approval: – “That we, the Naas Board of Guardians, have learned with feelings of deep regret of the demise of Mr. William J. Gray, a distinguished journalist, and a well-known native of Naas; and we hereby record our deep sympathy with the members of the deceased gentleman’s family in their great bereavement.”

On the motion of Mr. Charleton, seconded by Mr. Lacey, the resolution was passed.

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