On a grey, showery day, people from all walks of life came from across the country to the wake at Ard a’ Bhothair, about 2km from Ventry, in the Dingle Peninsula.
The lapping waves beat out a requiem on the shore, as people gathered outside the Ó Sé home and partook of tea and refreshments in Páidí Ó Sé’s bar across the road, which was otherwise closed for business.
Local men and GAA club members helped with traffic control and operated a one-way system. Huge crowds are expected for the funeral today.
The long friendship between Páidí Ó Sé and Charlie Haughey was recalled by the ex-taoiseach’s daughter Eimear Mulhern.
The Haughey family got to know the football hero, a Fianna Fáil supporter, when they started coming to their holiday island, Inishvickillane, more than 40 years ago.
“Dad and Páidí had a great friendship. Dad admired Páidí’s footballing ability and it was likewise with Páidí in relation to Dad in politics. It was mutual respect between them more than anything else,” said Ms Mulhern.
“We grew up in the GAA tradition and there was great banter and fun between us, especially because of the Dublin and Kerry rivalry.”
He had been a big part of their holidays during childhood and they had very happy memories of him, she said.
“I don’t think we’ll ever see anyone like him again,” she told Radio Kerry.
Among the mourners was Dingle native and broadcasting icon Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, a lifelong friend of Ó Sé’s.
“I don’t think I ever met anyone as loyal. He was loyal to every aspect of Irish culture, the language, the music and, above all, football,” he said.
“He was totally dedicated to everything he did and gave it absolutely 100%. He also loved doing favours for people, no matter who they were.”
Rank-and-file GAA supporters also spoke of a man who was utterly dedicated, with Dan Dwyer, from Kilcummin, Killarney, being among those who had noted Páidí’s special talents on seeing him playing as a youth.
“He was also a very sociable man. It’s hard to believe we’ll be coming back to Ventry without seeing him around and having a chat with him. One of the best wing-backs ever.”
Also there were former Kerry team-mates Jimmy Deenihan, Mikey Sheehy, Paudie Lynch, and Tommy Doyle; former Kerry football manager, Mick O’Dwyer, accompanied by his sons, and Jack O’Connor; current and former Cork managers, Conor Counihan, Billy Morgan, and Larry Tompkins, Kerry manager Eamon Fitzmaurice and player Paul Galvin, to name just a few.
Remains will be removed to Ventry church today prior to a funeral Mass at noon, with burial immediately afterwards in nearby Reilig Chaitlíona.
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