Paddy Walsh

 

For his many friends Paddy's death was more than a diminution; a devastation would be more fitting. Since his death an awareness has developed, perhaps for the first time, of just how many people he helped and supported in very many ways over many years. Only his God and he will know the extent of what he did and how many people will always be grateful to him, but there is no doubt that it is in the field of alcoholism where his loss will be most sorely felt.

Paddy was born in Midleton on November 26th, 1934. He was educated at Rockwell College but academic life held no attractions for him and he found city lights more seductive, first in Cork and then London. By the age of 32 he had reached rock bottom in London. They were no longer "the days of wine and roses". They were indeed tortuous times. Trying desperately to stop drinking on his own, but to no avail, he turned himself over to Alcoholics Anonymous and with the help of this powerful fellowship he got sober - a sobriety he was to enjoy for the rest of his life. Those oldtime members, many of whom came to his funeral 32 years later, made it clear to him that if he were to maintain his sobriety he had to pass it on to the still suffering alcoholic. If anyone ever took this message to heart, Paddy did. From that time he gave unstintingly of himself in that cause.

He came to live in Galway in June, 1969 with his dear wife, Ann. She had left the security of her life in Cork to come to London to support him and ultimately to marry him in London in January, 1969. That his business eventually thrived is of no surprise to us who came to know him. It was not easy and there were bleak times when he had to use his indomitable spirit to the utmost. In the final analysis he knew if he stayed sober everything would work out. Like C. S. Lewis, Paddy was a realist - he believed in miracles. Galway Metal Company, under the stewardship of his son Patrick, now stands on an imposing site at Oranmore not far from where Paddy was laid to rest in the cemetery behind the church in Clarinbridge.

AA in Galway at that time was in an embryonic state and Paddy's arrival was like a breath of fresh air. His sense of purpose was infectious. He carried the message to alcoholics as if his life depended on it, as indeed it did. Many of his prospects lacked his enthusiasm and conviction and tried to "flee him down the labyrinthine ways". But he relentlessly kept up the chase until there was nowhere left to hide. I know many of those fledglings of yesteryear who today are sober, steadfast members of society.

Paddy was a big man physically with an expansive personality and easy charm and undoubtedly the wittiest person I ever met. His anecdotes, many told against himself, were often outrageous, but always hilarious. For all of that, he was soft-hearted, somewhat unsure of himself and eager to have friends close at hand at all times. I was his friend and I hope and trust he will be waiting at one of heaven's quiet coves to help me across when the time comes.

To his beloved Ann, Patrick, Gillian and Anna and his brother Tom, we offer our heartfelt sympathy. DC