NICKEY BRENNAN led the tributes to the former GAA president Seamus Ó Riain from Tipperary who died on Saturday.
Speaking in Dubai a few hours before the All-stars exhibition game in which the late Mr Ó Riain’s grandson Shane Ryan lined out, Mr Brennan said one of his enduring legacies was the establishment of Féile na nGael as a national festival of youth hurling.
“That was one of his major achievements. To look at the competition today, it has grown out of all proportions,” he said. “Seamus launched it as a modest competition and now it’s a huge festival. That’s a tribute to him.
“I would not have known him through the course of my own career, but certainly I knew him in recent years and I always considered him an absolute gentleman. He was the quintessential master of the classroom, very modest and very honourable. It’s a sad day for the Ryan family, but they will have great memories of his achievements. And, his life in the GAA brought great fulfilment to both himself and the family.’’
Munster Council chairman Sean Fogarty said: “I think the establishment of Féile na nGael will be what he will be remembered for. You couldn’t have got a better leader for such a project.
“In terms of spreading hurling, I don’t think anything as good has been thought of since. In Tipperary, he brought very high standards to the office of chairman. The fact that he rose to the very top tells its own story.”
A native of Moneygall, Mr Ó Riain held the position of president from 1967 to 1970. Previous to that, he had been chairman of the North Tipperary County Board from 1957 to 1966 and the Munster Council from 1965 to 1967. At the end of his presidency, he served for a further three years as Tipperary chairman. By coincidence, he travelled on the very first Allstars tour in 1972, to San Francisco.
Requiem Mass for Mr Ó Riain will be held at noon today at Moneygall Parish Church followed by interment in Dunkerrin Cemetery.
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