GAA turns out in force for a Kerry legend
Up to 2,000 mourners and media converged before noon yesterday on Séipéal Chaitlín, Ceann Trá, the small stone chapel alongside Páidí Ó Sé’s home and pub near the village of Ventry in Co Kerry.
More than 150 Kerry senior GAA players past and present, including Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan and the great Mick O’Connell, attended the funeral and took part in a guard of honour for the hearse alongside players from An Ghaeltacht GAA club.
Eight priests concelebrated the Mass in Irish, led by Ó Sé’s friend Fr Kieran O’Brien and including the canon of Dingle, Fr Tom Looney, and the Irish scholar Msgr Pádraig Ó Fiannachta.
The gifts to symbolise the former footballer’s life included a copy of his autobiography, which was brought to the altar by former rugby international Mick Galwey, a No 5 Kerry jersey, a glass and a CD of traditional music by piper Seán Potts.
Fr O’Brien said he had got to know Páidí through playing handball and had remained close to him even when he moved parishes to Killarney.
As it left the church the cortege was led by Ó Sé’s former manager Mick O’Dwyer, GAA county board chairman Patrick O’Sullivan and Munster council chairman Seán Walsh.
With players past and present lining each side and the cortege beginning to move, Cór Chúil Aodha, the all-male choir of the Cork Gaeltacht under the direction of Peadar Ó Riada, began to sing Mo Ghile Mear – My Gallant Darling – the 18th-century Irish tribute to Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Among the dignitaries were Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, former taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte.
Mr Rabbitte had missed a Cabinet meeting to be among those who stood outside the church to attend the funeral of his friend. He had known Ó Sé for quarter of a century, he said.
“They threw away the mould when they made Páidí. He was a tourist attraction in his own right,” he said of his friend.
Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, who acted as master of ceremonies, said Ó Sé was now “a fixture on the team of Heaven”.
“I know he’ll put in a good word for all of us,” he said as the church applauded.
Other mourners yesterday included Seán Quinn jnr and his wife Karen Woods.
The great Offaly footballer Séamus Darby, who snatched the five-in-a-row from Kerry and from Ó Sé with a late goal, was among the mourners.
He spoke of his great friendship with the late Kerryman.
The choir of Cúl Aodha sang throughout the Mass.
Seán Potts on the pipes and Paddy Glackin on the fiddle provided a haunting rendition of the funeral dirge Táimse i mo Chodladh.
The congregation joined in the chorus of The Boys of Barr na Sráide, sung by Sláine Ní Chathaláin of TG4.
Jimmy Kelly, brother of the late Dubliner Luke, sang Raglan Road.