WARM tributes have been paid to Mary Carmel O'Dwyer, wife of legendary GAA trainer Mick O'Dwyer, who has passed away, aged 71.
Mrs O'Dwyer had suffered bad health for the past couple of years but had deteriorated in recent months. She passed away yesterday in the Bons Secours Hospital in Tralee, surrounded by members of her family.
Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, who knew the couple who this year celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, said Mary Carmel was the rock behind Micko.
"She really was the rock that Micko survived, thrived and prospered. She was the one who ensured their businesses were kept going when he was away," Mr Deenihan said.
"They had a very good relationship that was as strong in the end as it was in the beginning. She was a very strong woman who was never affected by Micko's high profile but very much her own woman and she was respected for that independence."
Mr Deenihan said that although Mrs O'Dwyer's health had failed in recent months, her determination and zest for life had kept her going. He said she won the respect of all the Kerry players because of the sacrifices she made to allow her husband to do his job.
"She was a great battler and she had a great desire to live. She loved life and enjoyed life," Mr Deenihan added.
A native of Waterville in Co Kerry, Mrs O'Dwyer is predeceased by her sister Noreen.
Her father Dan O'Sullivan had a hardware shop in Waterville and was the local undertaker for many years. She was also a businesswoman and ran The Sea Lodge Hotel, a garage and the Villa Marie Pub.
"She was well respected and a plain-talking woman but one of ours as well," said friend the Tony Donnelly.
She is survived by her husband and sons Michael, John, Robbie and Karl. Her death is the second loss to the Kerry GAA family, following the death of Timothy O'Mahony, father of Kerry footballer Aidan O'Mahony, whose removal is taking place this evening.