Tuesday 26 March 2019

No slowing down for Paddy at 80

John Tarrant

Community work continues for Paddy O'Brien at 80 years, and his lifetime's work and passionate care of the elderly in Cork was acknowledged with a Cork and Northside Community Award at a function in the Commons Inn Hotel.

Holding family connections with Millstreet, Paddy is renowned for his fantastic community work with various groups supporting the elderly in Cork.

He is known for founding and organising the well-known Over-60s Talent Competition, now in its 43rd year.

Paddy O'Brien was born in Kilnap Place, Spangle Hill in Cork city, son to a mother from Millstreet and a father who hailed from Ballinspittle.

At 14 years, he became a voluntary social worker while he worked as a messenger boy in 1953, running errands for elderly people. He later started organising social events.

Support services were almost non-existent at the time, and Paddy became the voice of the elderly in Cork. For more than 60 years he has led many campaigns for the elderly which have led to the delivery of subsidised heating, improved access to medical care, improved housing and extra social welfare entitlements.

"Loneliness is a disease, and I appeal to individuals and organisations to keep in touch with elderly people, be they your own family, friends or neighbours. That is my central message all my life, and we still need improvements in this area," he said.

At just 18 years of age he organised a concert at St Finbarr's Mental Hospital on the Lee Road and in Sarsfield Court. Christmas Day was always spent visiting a hospital, and as Paddy got older he formed a 'Concert Group' and did a concert every Sunday at some hospital. Paddy wanted to be the voice of the elderly, highlighting social issues which were affecting their lives. He started the Over 60s Talent Competition in 1977 and he is currently working on the 43rd event in 2019.

"I'm both thrilled and delighted to give people the opportunity of going on stage to display their talents at City Hall. The competition is now the biggest social event in Ireland for senior citizens, bringing great joy and happiness to so many people", he said.