FERNS HAS bid a heartfelt and emotional farewell to the late Paddy 'The Boxer' Murray of Pairc Mhuire, a man who was involved in just about every aspect of community life and who was held in the highest regard by everybody he came into contact with.
Paddy passed away peacefully in Wexford General Hospital on the night of Saturday January 12. He had been in failing health for some time but the manner in which he always fought through his illness was typical of a man who loved life and all it brought, and who never let anything get the better of him.
Paddy was born in Blackwater a shade under 68 years ago, but sadness touched his life at an early stage when his mother passed away when he was just three years old. He and his sisters were seperated following her sad death as they went to live with other relations, with Paddy himself first going to the Shiel family in Blackwater and later moving to The Ballagh at the age of ten to live with an aunt there. But while away from his sisters, he gained a brother, as that was how he came to look upon his cousin Johnny there, and the two remained close for all the years that followed.
Paddy later left The Ballagh to take the boat to England while still a young man, and it was there that he met Alice Dwyer, the woman who was to share the rest of his life. They moved back to Ireland together and settled in Ferns after marriage, to be near Alice's family. They went on to rear six children, and he was always a proud and dedicated father to them all. In latter years he was also a devoted grandfather and great-grandfather to the next generations of his family, again taking pride in their many achievements and loving to spend time with each and every one of them.
He acquired the nickname ' The Boxer' through his love of the fighting game and he was a founder member of St Aidans Boxing Club in Ferns, but that was just one of many strings to his bow. Indeed, Paddy was involved in so much that it is nigh on impossible to list them all, but just some of the other causes and organisations he served were Ferns St Aidans GAA and Camogie Clubs, Ferns United FC, the local horeshoes clubs, the Pairc Mhuire Residents Association, the Ferns and Clologue Field Day committees, the Labour Party ( and later, local independent councillor, Declan MacPartlin), and several charitable causes.
He was a dedicated fundraiser as well as worker, and was particularly renowned for his ability to sell tickets - even if he never seemed to manage to get rid of 'just the last few tickets, now!', as that was how he usually described what he was offering for sale, as though he was the one doing the buyer a favour.
Paddy also had a great love of nature, animals, and particularly horses, and some of his most memorable days came courtesy of a racehorse he owned himself. Called 'Little Len', it won two races back in 1999 - the first at Ballinrobe under no less a jockey than Ruby Walsh, and the second at Punchestown a few months later when Paddy's son Patrick steered the horse to victory. Remarkably, Little Len had been sent off at odds of 50/1 that day and opposition included a 1/3 favourite, but Little Len and Murray Junior obliged for 'The Boxer' to kick off scenes of celebration that are still fondly remembered.
Paddy will also be remembered fondly as a prankster and a joker, who would stir up an argument for fun or trick his way through just about anything, but such messing about was always without even the slightest hint of malice and was always taken in the spirit in which it was intended.
The huge numbers who came to sympathise with his family at his Pairc Mhuire home and who attended his Funeral Mass and subsequent burial in his beloved Ferns bore testament to how so many held Paddy Murray so dear. The horse-drawn carriage that brought him for burial was afforded Guards of Honour by Ferns GAA Club, Ferns Camogie Club, Ferns Soccer Club, Ferns Horseshoes Club and Ferns Boxing Club, while among the countless other mourners were representatives of all the other groups and causes he served too, along with grieving relations, neighbours and friends.
Paddy is survived by wife Alice; sisters Peggy and Bridie; cousin ('brother') Johnny; sons Johnny and Patrick, daughters Mary, Stephanie, Martina, and Aisling; extended family including in-laws, grandchildren, and greatgrandchild, and many neighbours and friends.
His memory will live on forever, and thoughts of him will surely always raise a smile. May he rest in peace.