Sunday 11 December 2016

Hundreds gather as 'Father of Irish golf' Christy O'Connor Snr is laid to rest

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 17/05/2016 | 12:17

Mourners pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Mourners pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Paul McGinley pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Jimmy McGee (left) pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Mourners pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Paul McGinley pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Paul McGinley pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Mourners pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Mourners pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
The funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)

Golf legend Christy O'Connor Senior was laid to rest following a large funeral in his parish church in Clontarf in Dublin today.

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A giant of the game for decades, he died on Saturday aged 91. He won more than 20 important British and Irish tournaments, playing in 10 Ryder Cup competitions and won the Canada Cup\World Cup in partnership with Harry Bradshaw in 1958.

Many tributes were paid to the Irish sportsman at the large funeral at Saint John the Baptist Church.

Fr Martin Hogan, co-parish priest, told the congregation "He was our national golfing treasure who could compete with the giants of golf from all around the world and beat many of them more than once."

Paul McGinley pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Paul McGinley pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)

"I grew very fond of him. I sensed a very generous and hospitable nature. He was a real people person...

"Christy was such a big character in every sense that his death has left a huge gap in the lives of all those who knew and loved him," said Fr Hogan.

The funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
The funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)

There was, said the priest, "even in the midst of sorrow and loss, a time to celebrate a life that was generous and loving, a life that brought so much joy to so many people."

His son Peter delivered a moving tribute to him as a father and family man and spoke of how he and his twin brother Christopher received golf lessons at a very young age from their father who was "the greatest golfer in the world."

Mourners pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Mourners pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)

He took many stories of his dad, including the day that he was requested to play with US President Bill Clinton in Ballybunion and how he spent a considerable time coaching the president before the game.

Sunday Independent golf correspondent Dermot Gilleece told the congregation how he will be remembered as "a golfer of supreme skills which could be attributed essentially to keen, competitive instincts and a flawless technique with club and ball."

Mourners pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)
Mourners pictured at the funeral of Christy O'Connor Snr (Photo: Mark Condren)

Mr Gilleece quoted John Jacobs, known as Doctor Golf, who said that Christy O'Connor could still play golf to "absolute perfection" at the age of 77.

Chief mourners were his wife Mary, daughters Marguerite, Therese,  and Joan, sons Christopher and Peter, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was pre-deceased by his daughter Anne-Marie and prayers were said for her and for his nephew, top golfer  Christy O'Connor Junior, who died just months ago.

President Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were represented by their aide-de-camps Commdt Louise Conlon and Comdt Cormac Brady respectively.

A native of Knocknacarra, Co Galway, the golfing legend had received an award for being the Greatest Living Galway Sportsman. The Mayor of Galway Frank Fahy and Dublin's Deputy Mayor Ciaran O'Moore attended.

Among the large congregation were a large number of people from the golfing world, including Paul McGinley and RTE sports veteran Jimmy Magee.

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