Kerry sporting legend honoured

Roundabout named in memory of basketball star

Stephen Fernane

One of Kerry and Ireland's most famous sporting sons - the late Paudie O'Connor - was remembered in his home town on Monday when the St Anne's-Lewis Road roundabout was named in his honour.

A son of Dan and Mai O'Connor, Paudie was raised in O'Sullivan's Place in Killarney, where he played basketball in the nearby parish hall - a place where he honed his skills on route to becoming one of Ireland's greatest basketball players.

Close friends and members of Paudie's family gathered in glorious sunshine to witness a ceremony attended by members of Kerry County Council, where Paudie served as an elected representative for over a decade. The idea to dedicate the roundabout in honour of Paudie was proposed by Killarney Municipal District Cathoirleach Cllr John Sheahan.

"I am delighted to be here today to mark the memory of one of Killarney's greatest. The sign erected is to mark the memory of the late Paudie O'Connor, both as a politician and as a fantastic sportsman," he said.

Representing Fine Gael, Paudie was a member of Killarney Urban District Council from 1974 to 1985, and Kerry County Council from 1979 to 1985. He also served as Cathoirleach on four occasions.

Cllr John Sheahan added that Paudie was a legend in Irish Basketball circles and was highly regarded amongst his colleagues, constituents and everyone he was in contact with.

"Paudie enjoyed great success with the St Vincent's Club as well as captaining the Irish basketball team. He became the only Irish player ever to make the first-five of a European All-Star team."

Paudie married and moved to the US in 1984, where he became a wonderful ambassador for sport. Golf was one of Paudie's passions, and he introduced many tourists from the US to the beauty of Killarney and Kerry golf courses. Paudie is also famous for having transformed the game of basketball in Ireland in the 1980s by inviting American players to play - a move that gave huge exposure to the game here.