Jimmy Magee was truly ‘a different class’, son tells funeral

‘Memory Man may be dead but his memory will live forever,’ says Fr Brian D’Arcy

Jimmy Magee would have been "so, honoured, so proud" about the attendance at his funeral, his son Mark Magee said.

“He loved people, He loved his friends, everyone here, he loved his family....we’ve been really humbled at the kind words and universal opinion of him as a kind person” over recent days, he said. “We, as a family, were taken aback at how honest and real they were, and they weren’t just words.”

Mark Magee was speaking at the end of the funeral Mass for his father in Dublin's Church of St Laurence O'Toole, Kilmacud.

Jimmy Magee (82) died last Tuesday at St Vincent’s hospital, Dublin, following a short illness.


Mark Magee said that what his father remembered most about the sports people he met were the simple gestures, such as Barry McGuigan saying from the ring(in London when he became World Featherweight Champion in 1985 'Jaysus Jimmy we did it'."

Or Roy Keane "helping him with his cases, and Paul McGrath driving all the way from Wexford" to a book sigining in Easons. "He was a friend of the nation and he truly was a different class," Mark Magee concluded.

The Mass was concelebrated by Fr Brian D'Arcy, a friend of Jimmy Magee's for many decades, Fr Dermot McCarthy chaplain to RTÉ, and Msgr Eoin Thynne former chaplain to the Defence Forces and now parish priest in Mulhuddart, Co Dublin.

In his homily, Fr D’Arcy said “the Memory Man is dead but what memories he left us. The Memory Man may be dead but his memory will live forever.” It was “as if an era died with him, all those sporting and entertainment memories, the voice of Jimmy Magee was to be found in them all. The voice of Jimmy Magee is silent now”.

He was an enthusiast “who never grew up. I used say to him ‘see, Jimmy, if there’s an adult in there?’And he’d say ‘I’m happy as I am’. And he was.”

But when his son Paul (51) died of motor neurone disease in 2008, “a large section of Jimmy died too.”

He “couldn’t understand how a son would go before his father,” Fr D’Arcy said. Always “the family man, he was enormously proud of them.”

He said Magee liked to tell stories from his DJ years, such as his first meeting with comedian Spike Milligan. " 'Welcome to Ireland', said Jimmy. 'If this is Ireland you're welcome to it," responded Milligan."

And Ella Fitzgerald. "He loved Ella Fitzgerald. He said to her 'Ella, welcome to the Glen Abbey Show' and she replied 'I'm very pleased to meet you, Glen'."

Fr D'Arcy also recalled how, writing 43 years for the Sunday World, Magee never missed a deadline and that his Jimmy Magee All Stars played 254 games for charity,"and never lost. They never won either!"

Founded on "the 6th of the 6th, 1966" they "played in every one of the 32 counties, England, Holland, New York. All for nothing, for the sheer joy of it, for charity" and marked their 50th anniversary on June 6th, 2016.

“As he’d say himself, he was ‘...a different class, a different class’.”

As the coffin was carried down the aisle, Paddy Cole and colleagues played the Magee Shuffle, composed by Jimmy Magee himself.

Burial aferwards was at Shanganagh cemetery.

Chief mourners were Jimmy Magee’s children Linda, June, Patricia, and Mark. His wife Marie predeceased him.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide-de-camp Cmdt Emmet Harney.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross represented the Goverment.

Also present were Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin, GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail, FAI chief executive John Delaney, and Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy.

Others in attendance included Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane; Michael Carruth and Bernard Dunne of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association; Cllr Kenneth Egan; Aisling Farrell of the Irish Motor Neurone Association; RTÉ Head of Sport Ryle Nugent and colleagues, Des Cahill, Tony O'Donoghue, Marty Morrissey, Michael Lyster, Ger Canning, George Hamilton, Brian Carthy, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, as well as Larry Gogan and Mike Murphy.

There also were retired Irish swimmer Michelle de Bruin and her husband Erik; Mick Clerkin and Seán Reilly from the music business; Tipperary's Babs Keating and Nicky English; Kerry's Mick O'Connell; Dublin's Jimmy Keaveney; Goal founder John O'Shea; impresario Oliver Barry and publican Charlie Chawke.

There too were Sunday World editor Colm McGinty, Tony Ward of the Irish Independent and Malachy Logan, sports editor of The Irish Times.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times