MORE than 2,000 people have attended the funeral of GAA legend Paidi O Se in Ventry.
The eight times All-Ireland winner was remembered at his funeral mass today as a “hard man” on the field but a soft and understanding man to his friends.
In his homily, chief celebrant Fr Kieran O’Brien spoke of his shock on hearing the news of his friend’s death.
Fr O’Brien had struck up a close friendship with the GAA legend when he served in the parish of Ventry and used to play handball with him.
Speaking in Irish, he said like a rock being thrown into water, ripples of shock spread out amongst the public who knew him.
He said Paidi (57), who died on Saturday from a suspected heart attack, was not just of Ventry but belonged to the whole country and he was a hero, leader and friend to an awful lot of people.
His brother Tom told mourners it would have been the GAA star's wish to have so many of his friends in his home town of Ventry.
"He wanted to invite as many people as he could to Ventry. He was so proud of Ventry," said Mr Ó Sé.
"So he has his wish, he has every friend that he possibly met over the years here."
Paidi’s son Padraig Og also addressed the congregation in the packed Ventry church that could not contain the crowds who attended the funeral.
"People reflect on Páidí as being a great footballer, manager, publican and a great character," said Pádraig Óg.
"But for me Páidí was a big family man, while always being very good to the people around him.
"I was very close to my father and after a brief chat with a famous Tyrone manager I was told how I can now become much closer to him. And that's what I'm hoping everyone else who knew Páidí will do."
Retired Radio na Gaeltachta commentator Micheal O Se also spoke at the mass.
Gifts brought to the altar included his book ‘Paidi’, a pint glass and a deck of cards.
The picture that adourned the coffin was the famous one of Paidi posing with his eight All-Ireland medals that he kept in a USA biscuit tin.
Among the early arrivals at Ard a Bhothair this morning were some of Paidi’s teammates from the Kerry team of the 1970s and 80s, who formed a guard of honour as the coffin was carried the short distance from his home to the church.
Ger Power and Jack O’Shea were the first to arrive.
Other well known faced included the legendary Mick O’Connell, former rugby player Mick Galwey who was a neighbour of Paidi’s in Ard a Bothair, Micko Dwyer and GAA president Liam O’Neill.
Fr O’Brien concluded his homily saying that darkness had fallen on the west Kerry community and on Paidi’s family with his sudden and untimely death.
He said he hoped he’d be having a wonderful celebration in heaven in the company of his parents Beatrice and Tommy, brother Michael and the other heroes of the Kingdom who had gone before him.
Mr O Se was buried following requiem mass in the Reilig Chaitliona on the edge of the village.
He is survived by his wife, Maire, and three children Nessa, Siun and Padraig Og and wider family.