Paddy Prendergast, who had been the last man standing from the Mayo team that won the 1951 All-Ireland football final, lived "a life well worth celebrating", his funeral Mass has heard.
Mr Prendergast, who died on Sunday aged 95, was remembered at the Mass in St John’s Parish, Tralee, Co Kerry as a storyteller, “a larger than life character” and someone with a tremendous love for life.
Celebrant Fr Tadhg Fitzgerald said Mr Prendergast had a great ease about him and was a magnetic character who drew people to him.
“In truth he had a wonderful life, a life well worth celebrating,” he said.
The priest said Mr Prendergast was “truly blessed” in life with his wife of 57 years Irene, and his children and grandchildren.
Fr Fitzgerald said Mr Prendergast was a public figure but that in his ministry to him in recent times he had become conscious he had a private life and was surrounded by the people he loved most in the world.
“As a family you gave wonderful witness by standing in prayer and intimacy with him,” the priest said.
A lone piper in a Mayo GAA jersey played as his coffin was brought into the church and a Mayo flag, sent by the county GAA board, was draped over the coffin as it left to the tune of The West’s Awake.
There was a guard of honour from Mayo GAA after the Mass and the chairman of the county's GAA board Liam Moffatt presented a flag to the family.
‘Privilege and honour’
Seán Lyons, another Mayo man living in Tralee, told the congregation that he grew up in Castlebar steeped in the lore and legend of Paddy Prendergast.
“They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but for me it was a privilege and an honour to become friends with Paddy,” he said.
He said Mr Prendergast never forgot Castlebar of his hometown of Ballintubber, which for him was a combination of "Tír na nÓg and the Promised Land". Mr Lyons said recalled how Mr Prendergast had in 1937 contributed a 62-page document, in Irish and English, on local history to the Irish Folklore Commission.
Mark Prendergast, Paddy's son, thanked GP Dr Joe Arthur and all those who cared for his father. He said it was very hard to sum up "Paddy P" but he was a football god, a fisherman, a card player and a raconteur.
He said his father felt very welcome in Co Kerry, which was a very special place for him. He was “an incredible father” and a great friend and the family worshipped him, Mark added.
Mr Prendergast is survived by his wife Irene; son Mark; daughters Petra and Siobhán; sisters Carmel and Barbara; grandchildren Will, Callum, Patrick and Helena; sons-in-law William and Andy; daughter-in-law Dayna; and extended family and friends.
His remains were brought for cremation after the Mass and the funeral notice said there would be further celebration of Mr Prendergast’s life in Ballintubber Abbey and on the shores of Lough Carra next summer.