Mourners told golfing legend O'Connor Snr was 'national treasure'
Published 18/05/2016 | 02:30
Mourners have gathered to pay tribute to Christy O'Connor Senior, "a national treasure".
A giant of the game, he died on Saturday aged 91.
He won 20 British and Irish tournaments and won the Canada Cup/World Cup with Harry Bradshaw in 1958.
Fr Martin Hogan, co-parish priest, told the congregation at O'Connor's funeral at St John the Baptist Church in Clontarf, Dublin, the former golf star was "a national treasure".
He was a player "who could compete with the giants of golf from all around the world and beat many of them more than once," he said.
"Christy was such a big character in every sense that his death has left a huge gap in the lives of all those who knew and loved him," said Fr Hogan.
There was, said the priest, "even in the midst of sorrow and loss, a time to celebrate a life that was generous and loving, a life that brought so much joy to so many people".
O'Connor's son Peter delivered a moving tribute to him as a father and family man. He spoke of the day his father was asked to play with US President Bill Clinton in Ballybunion and how he spent considerable time coaching the president before the game.
'Sunday Independent' golf correspondent Dermot Gilleece told the congregation Christy will be remembered as "a golfer of supreme skills... and flawless technique".
Mr Gilleece quoted John Jacobs, known as 'Doctor Golf', who said Christy could still play golf to "absolute perfection" at the age of 77.
Chief mourners were his wife Mary, daughters Marguerite, Therese and Joan, sons Christopher and Peter, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was pre-deceased by his daughter Anne-Marie. Prayers were said for her and for his nephew, top golfer Christy O'Connor Junior, who died suddenly in January this year.
President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were represented by their aide-de-camps, Comdt Louise Conlon and Comdt Cormac Brady, respectively.
A native of Knocknacarra in Galway, O'Connor Snr once received an award for being the 'Greatest Living Galway Sportsman'.
Mayor of Galway Frank Fahy and Dublin's Deputy Mayor Ciaran O'Moore were among the mourners. Also among the large congregation were members of his beloved Royal Dublin Golf Club, and from the wider Irish golfing world, including Paul McGinley (left), veteran players and RTÉ's Jimmy Magee.