Paidi O Se: Great and good of GAA family bid farewell to 'one of a kind'
FAMOUS faces are regularly seen at Paidi O Se's pub but never so many at the one time.
Giants of the GAA from all over the country gathered at the Ventry venue in west Kerry yesterday, where stories about the sporting legend were swapped.
It was the type of social gathering that Paidi himself would have enjoyed, having some of the best exponents of Gaelic games under the one roof. Staff from the Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney provided sandwiches and teas to visitors.
A constant stream of mourners attended the home of the sporting legend in Ard a Bhothair, where he lay in repose, his corpse adorned by his eight All-Ireland medals and a Kerry jersey.
Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, who played alongside O Se for Kerry, spoke of his shock on hearing of the death of his friend.
Paidi died suddenly at home on Saturday morning of a suspected heart attack. He was 57.
"It's just so hard to comprehend," he said. "He was such a larger-than-life figure. It's hard to understand how he could have been taken so soon.
"Paidi was universally loved and very inoffensive and he was very much a one-off."
Kilkenny hurling hero DJ Carey said his favourite memory of Paidi was when the Kilkenny team were staying at the same hotel as him in South Africa.
At the time, Paidi had got himself into hot water for referring to Kerry fans as animals but to deflect attention away from himself he put the story out that the Kilkenny players were causing havoc at the hotel.
"He was an expert at manipulating the media," said Carey, who revealed that football rather than hurling was his first sporting choice, and that was down to the inspirational Paidi O Se.
Former chairman of Kerry County Board and chairman of the Munster Council Sean Walsh, who fired Paidi from his role as manager, revealed that he would be delivering the graveside oration following his funeral.
During that time, it was to former Kerry footballer and Ventry native Tom Long that Paidi turned for counsel.
"He was down very much at the time but there was never any animosity afterwards. He never looked back and he never held a grudge," Mr Long said.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Paidi would easily have been elected a TD if he had decided to run.
"The world just stops a bit when a man like Paidi O Se dies," he said.
Members of Charlie Haughey's family also attended the wake, including his children Eimear Mulhearn, Conor and Ciaran.
Mrs Mulhearn spoke of the enduring friendship between her father and Paidi.
"It was a friendship that was based on mutual respect that was very deep," she said.
Other well-known faces in attendance included former Tanaiste Dick Spring and his nephew, Kerry North-West Limerick TD Arthur Spring, and former Fianna Fail MEP Gerry Collins.
In the pub, Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody chatted to former Kerry players Eoin Liston and Ogie Moran.
Also in attendance were Cork manager Conor Counihan and former managers Billy Morgan and Larry Tompkins; former Kerry manager Jack O'Connor; legendary manager Mick O'Dwyer with his sons Karl, John, Haulie and Robbie; and All-Ireland winning Armagh manager Joe Kernan.
There was also a strong turnout of Kerry footballers who played alongside Paidi, including Tom, Mick and Pat Spillane, Timmy Dowd, Ambrose O'Donovan, Tommy Doyle, Paidi Lynch, Mikey Sheehy, Eoin Liston and Ogie Moran and current players Paul Galvin and Darran O'Sullivan.
Kerry County Council also paid tribute to the eight-times All-Ireland winner at its monthly meeting, where a minute's silence was observed.
Mayor of Kerry Terry O'Brien said he that was a larger-than-life character who had made a huge contribution to his native county.