Monday 20 November 2017

Only a hero will be able to fill those footprints on the strand

PAIDI has passed and the baton has been passed on. I recall that magnificent picture of a young Paidi O Se walking with the legendary Paddy Bawn Brosnan on Coumeenoole strand, west of Dingle, all those years ago. It says it all. Advice being given, passed from a giant of Gaelic games to a hungry successor.

The wildness, the energy, the relentless movement of the ocean, the central focus of the ball – these were central characteristics to Paidi's being.

"Down here we do it differently, and we haven't much time for anything else," he often said to me.

"Send me down your own team, Islandeady, to play in my tournament in the new year," he said, but only after I had agreed to again launch the famous tournament, the Comorthas, in Dublin.

His Gaelachas poured out of him, every word, every movement, every action, epitomised his pride in his native place, his urgency to move on and his striving to be central to every new achievement.

Many a fancied forward felt his presence on the field of play: strong legs, utter conviction and total belief in getting that ball first.

Will any back line player ever again appear in 10 All-Ireland Senior Football Finals and have only a single point from play scored against him? I doubt it very much.

He had his politics and stood by them, and used that platform to make acquaintance with many the world over. His passion for life never dimmed, and his pride in the achievements of his nephews always brought out the best in him – "God, aren't they just mighty, too".

I knew Paidi well and was always happy to engage with him. He was an outstanding member of an outstanding team, and while he never needed to say it, that ultimate card was always there to be played.

While Kerry, the Gaeltacht and the GAA have lost a huge personality, Maire and their children Neasa, Siun and Padraig Og have lost a husband and a dad. I hope their grief will be tempered by the warmth of recollection of a life fully lived.

But in that new place where he joins Tim Kenneally, John Egan and the myriad of great Gaels gone before them, the spirit that he displayed in life will no doubt continue to shine through.

The Atlantic waves will continue to roll in on Coumeenoole strand, making way for new footprints and new heroes. It has always been thus.

Paidi has taken his leave of us, and I was glad to have known him along the way. Yes, the baton has been passed.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.

Irish Independent

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