Tuesday 16 January 2018

He had a love for photography as shown by his 'walls of fame'

Sunday Independent photo editor David Conachy recalls first meeting Paidi O Se, in Marbella along with Aengus Fanning

MY first memory of 'PO' comes from the 1997 All Ireland final when Kerry came up against Mayo. I can still see Paidi running up and down the sideline, conducting his players and leading them on to victory.

It would be another six years before I really felt I got to know Paidi O Se. I accompanied our late editor, Aengus Fanning, to Marbella on the promise of a big interview with Paidi.

While most sit down interviews involve a set time and place, Aengus and Paidi weren't most people. And so, off we went in search of the Kerry legend, eventually tracking him down to his poolside house.

Fresh from taking his afternoon swim, Paidi and his wife, Maire, sat down for a chat, in which he spoke memorably of all manner of things to do with his eventful life.

As it so often happened with Aengus, the interview didn't come to an end right there. A taxi was called and off we went to Puerto Banus where Aengus had arranged – unbeknownst to Paidi – to meet up with another Kerry footballing great, Mick O'Dwyer.

As the three of them strolled in the sunshine, the pace and the volume of the banter rose and fell. Aengus knew all the buttons to press to extract the detail and colour that lively and entertaining copy requires.

The relationship and respect between Aengus and Paidi grew from that day.

Shortly after, Paidi joined our ranks as a columnist and I got to photograph the man on many occasions.

My favourite photograph of Paidi comes from the time Aengus asked me to recreate a famous Colman Doyle portrait of Paddy Bawn Brosnan on Dunquin beach, which had been taken in 1985. The picture shows Paidi and his nephew, Darragh, standing on the same stretch of beach as Paddy Bawn Brosnan had done 24 years previously.

Colman's excellence is evident on the front page today, a photograph – from 1985 – of a young O Se standing in Ventry holding the Sam Maguire aloft.

Paidi's love of photography wasn't truly revealed until I saw the 'walls of fame' inside his pub. My eyes were drawn to a picture of Hollywood star Martin Sheen standing next to him in the pub. I was very impressed, but not nearly as much as I was when I heard the story of how the picture had come to be taken.

Paidi was outside when several of his regulars rushed to tell him who was in the bar.

"Who's Martin Sheen?" Paidi asked.

"Hollywood A-list, Paidi," came the response.

"F**k!" Paidi exclaimed, before hightailing it into the pub to give him the full Kerry welcome.

As Sheen was leaving, Paidi took him aside and thanked him for visiting, before saying: "Next time you see Tom Cruise, will you tell him I was asking for him?"

Some weeks later, a letter arrived in which he thanked Paidi for his hospitality. At the end of the note, Sheen wrote: "PS, Tom says 'hello'".

I was lucky to have held an exhibition in the pub in Ventry. On that occasion, I was in the very best of company with Aengus and Paidi by my side.

I miss them both.

Sunday Independent

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