HUGE crowds of mourners attended the removal and Funeral Mass of former Wexford hurling star Paul Lynch in his native Enniscorthy town last Tuesday afternoon.
Sporting, political and cultural figures from throughout County Wexford and further afield joined with mourners from all walks of life to pay their respects to a man whose tireless work for the GAA both at inter-county and club levels saw him regarded as an inspiration to so many.
Paul had passed away at his home on the previous Sunday morning, in the company of his family, and great sadness was occasioned in GAA circles throughout the county as news of his passing filtered through.
Testament to his overwhelming popularity were the numbers who filtered through the doors of the Lynch household from Sunday through to his removal to St. Aidan's Cathedral on Tuesday for Funeral Mass.
A huge crowd followed the cortege on its short journey from Duffry Gate to St. Aidan's Cathedral, where many waited both outside and inside the church, which was filled to overflowing.
Moving tributes were paid by Fr. Billy Swan, who presided over the Funeral Mass, and local Fianna Fail Deputy John Browne, who noted that the late Paul Lynch's feats on the GAA fields brought great honours to his county and clubs: first the Shamrocks, and later Rapparees/Starlights.
He was spoken of as a true Gael in every sense of the word whose work within the realms of the GAA, particularly in his club, remains unsurpassed.
Both Fr. Swan and Deputy Browne also spoke of Paul as being a great family man, as he showed a great devotion and love for his wife, children and grand-children.
A moving moment during the ceremony saw the number ten jersey that Paul wore when helping Wexford win the All-Ireland hurling final of 1968 being brought to the altar during the offertory procession, along with the hurl that he used to strike 1-3 in that legendary match.
As he was brought from the church, members of the 1968 All-Ireland winning team gathered outside, with the Wexford purple and gold jersey draped over their shoulder forming a guard of honour. On the opposite side of the hearse were members of the Rapparees/Starlights and Shamrocks clubs, with whom Paul spent so many happy years both on and off the playing pitches.
As the funeral cortege moved on the final journey to St. Mary's Cemetery, there was a still silence over Bellefield GAA grounds as the hearse paused for a brief moment opposite the road where Paul lived all his life, with the flags flowing at half mast as one looked out over the ground where Paul displayed his hurling skills both at club and inter-county level.
Following behind the coffin was his loving wife, Marie, his children Paul, Stephen, Mark, Lisa and Wendy and members of his extended family.
After a brief moment's silence, the cortege made its short journey to St. Mary's Cemetery where Paul was laid to rest.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a ainm.