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Rock: Kingdom legend was known worldwide

THERE'S a little game people unknowingly play when they consider Paidi O Se's celebrity.

It centres on his pub at Ard a' Bothair, a mural to his immense fame and gregariousness, adorned exclusively with pictures of Páidí himself and many well-known sporting figures, politicians, musicians, actors and other such notables from a wide spectrum of society.

Everyone gets Tom Cruise. And everyone - everyone - gets Dolly Parton. Barney Rock can't be completely sure but he thinks Larry Hagman is up there on one of the walls too.

"I think Páidí would be world famous in many ways," reckons Rock. "He had the pub and people travelled up and down to Kerry and they would always be going into Páidí's pub to see him. They went to see him. He was such a likeable rogue, the way he went about his business."

The pictures will stay, no doubt, but O Sé's remarkable renown was illustrated again over the weekend when the tributes began to flow after the news broke of his death.

A tsunami of tributes have followed and, fittingly, from a diverse band of individuals from throughout Ireland.

Reputation

As President Michael D Higgins put it: "Paidi O Se had a reputation that went far beyond his great achievements in sport and far beyond the boundaries of his own beloved country. It was a great contribution."

His political side was always prominent. He had a staunch friendship with former Taoisigh Charlie Haughey and later Brian Cowen, the former helping him get the job of Kerry manager in 1995.

The story goes that Páidí and Seamus Mac Gearailt were neck and neck for the post when Haughey told his ally to offer Mac Gearailt everything but the actual bainisteoir bib.

When the renewal of O Se's tenure arrived in 1998, after he had landed the '97 All-Ireland, he garnered 112 votes out of 116.

"Charlie asked me," Ó Sé recalls in the book 'Dublin v Kerry,' "did I get the names of the four that voted against me. I said that I did. He said, 'Make one a selector and make sure you go to the dinner-dance in the clubs of the other three'. Some man!"

As Eugene McGee - the former Offaly manager - put it: "Páidí's sudden death can correctly be described as tragic. No player of the past 50 years made such an impact on Gaelic football as he did and that was not just because he won eight All-Ireland medals as a player."


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