Wednesday 24 October 2018

GAA dual legend Paddy was 'forever young'

The funeral of Wexford hurling legend Paddy Kehoe on Sunday
The funeral of Wexford hurling legend Paddy Kehoe on Sunday
Paddy is pictured on the right with Nick O'Donnell and Nickey Rackard after the 1955 All-Ireland final
The late Paddy Kehoe

David Looby

Hailed by Michael O'Muircheartaigh as Ireland's greatest ever dual player to wear the purple and gold, Paddy Kehoe was laid to rest in New Ross on Sunday.

Late of Rathimney, Gusserane and 67 Charlton Hill, New Ross, Paddy passed away peacefully surrounded by his wife of 62 years, Joan; children, Kevin, Mary and Julie, grandchildren and great grandchildren, at Wexford General Hospital on Thursday.

He was 93 years old.

Described as a man who was 'forever young' by his daughter Julie, Paddy was a man of many talents, talents which saw him shine in the purple and gold of Wexford in Croke Park and in pitches across the country in the 1940s and 1950s.

Paddy grew up in a big household in Gusserane. He attended Gusserane NS and worked selling lime from a young age for Paul Murphy. He later got work for Roadstone and only retired in the late Noughties after glaucoma prevented him from driving. He was 85 when he retired.

Paddy assisted Gusserane to county senior football titles in the forties.

He first came to prominence with Wexford as a footballer winning a Leinster senior football medal in 1945. Portrayed as one of the cutest and cleverest forwards in the game of hurling, the 16 stone Wexford colossus mesmerised defences with his speed and skill despite his large frame. He was part of the golden era of Wexford hurling winning All-Ireland medals in 1955 and 1956. Always a staunch follower of gaelic games, Paddy also managed Wexford teams as he continued to pass on his expertise.

Paddy lived and breathed the GAA, but his main focus was his family. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, and had a personality which endeared him to people of all ages.

He loved his job because it gave him the opportunity to meet up with different people.

Paddy loved recalling matches he played in and could recall the weather on the day and the scores with remarkable clarity.

'Even though he went blind he could still see it all before him in his mind's eye.'

Paddy retired from playing after the 1956 All Ireland success. He became a referee and umpire and remained very involved with Wexford football, and was called upon on several occasions to give 'pep talks' to Wexford football teams before big games.

A great communicator, he loved conversing with people of all ages.

'He was forever young. That is why his great grandchildren loved him so much. He loved being surrounded by his family.'

Paddy also enjoyed playing golf and became President of New Ross Golf Club.

He was a keen soccer follower, Manchester United being his favourite team.

Paddy and Joan were a great team and in his working days, (of which there were many), he would often take Joan along with him and they would enjoy lunches together across the county.

Paddy passed away peacefully having spent five days in Wexford General Hospital. He was cared for at home and enjoyed many visits from family and friends in recent years.

Members of New Ross Golf Club formed a guard of honour for Paddy's removal and there were two guards of honour at his funeral mass from Wexford GAA and Gusserane GAA Club.

At his funeral mass his son Kevin paid a moving tribute to him. He said there were two Paddy Kehoe's, Paddy Kehoe the sportsman and Paddy Kehoe the family man. He said everyone knew him for his sporting achievements, but to his family he was a devoted father.

Paddy's great friend Terry Brennan played the Lonesome Boat on tin whistle at the mass.

Julie read the hurler's prayer at the end of the mass and Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council, Tony Dempsey gave a lovely graveside tribute to him at St Stephen's Cemetery, New Ross.

Paddy is survived by his wife Joan; children, Kevin, Mary and Julie, grandchildren and great grandchildren; sisters, Annie and Sr Martha; brother Seamus; extended family and friends.

Ar dhes de go raich an ainm.

New Ross Standard