Large turnout in Killarney for funeral of broadcaster Weeshie Fogarty
Celebrant pays tribute to a family man who brought such colour into people’s lives
Kerry footballer James O’Donoghue places The Legion Flag on GAA broadcaster Weeshie Fogarty’s coffin at his funeral in St Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney on Wednesday.Photo: Don MacMonagle
The musical voice, with the distinct Kerry tilt, of Weeshie Fogarty, who has been laid to rest in his native Killarney, Co Kerry, held an audience captive one last time when a recording he made about what Kerry meant to him was played at his Requiem Mass.
“The wonderful John B Keane once remarked to me that there were just two Kingdoms – the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of Kerry and, of course, the great man was, as always, spot on,” said Weeshie. “And when I die, hopefully, I will travel from one Kingdom to another,” he added.
The congregation in a packed St Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney heard that Weeshie (77) grew up listening to and learning from the great Micheál Ó Hehir and that sparked a love for the spoken word that stayed with him throughout his days as a player, mentor, trainer, referee, club official and, in later years, as an award-winning broadcaster.
Principal celebrant, Fr Niall Howard, said Weeshie’s radio commentaries carried people to a place of dreams and imagination and he achieved that with such ease and passion for the benefit of all who were listening in around the world.
He said Weeshie had a wonderful ability to hold a great conversation with people, whether they were listening to him on the radio or chatting to him on the side of the street.
“He valued people, he valued the person and he brought that deep respect to bear, in so many different ways, in public life but also through school visits, his work with charities, his trips to nursing homes and, especially, through his 38 years as a psychiatric nurse”.
Fr Howard said Weeshie loved many things in life, including 99 ice cream cones, people watching, TV and film, keeping fit, nature and photography.
“He loved concerts and music though, famously, Beyoncé was not part of his musical repertoire,” the priest joked in a reference to Weeshie’s hilarious on-air admission – shared tens of thousands of times on Youtube – that he didn’t know the pop star and wondered who “he” was and if “it is a band?”
Fr Howard said while Weeshie loved travelling the country for interviews and games, there is no doubt that the highlight of each day was heading home to his wife Joan, to whom he was married for almost 50 years, their children, Denise, Carolann and Kieran, and the grandchildren he adored.
“The cost of his work and popularity was that his family had to share him with the county, the country and the world and we thank you for all that we received when he brought colour to our lives through his words,” the priest added.
Gifts brought to the altar were a microphone to symbolise his work in the media and a copy of his autobiography, A Beautiful Obsession, which charted his life and times and his passion for the GAA.
Weeshie’s daughter, Carolann, told the gathering that her dad had been described many times as a legend and that he was considered a legend at home as well.
“His two big loves in life were his family and football but in what order we often wondered,” she said.
Carolann recalled that that issue was put to the test nearly 13 years ago when Weeshie’s first grandchild, Lucy, was born and her christening in Killarney clashed with a Kerry v Dublin National League game under lights in Tralee.
Initially insisting he couldn’t possibly miss such a big game, the wise counsel of his wife, Joan, prevailed and instead Weeshie made it to the church.
His beloved Killarney Legion GAA Club and the East Kerry Board held guards of honour and Killarney fell silent as Weeshie’s remains passed through the streets on the way to Aghadoe Lawn Cemetery, overlooking the Lakes of Killarney that he very often referred to in his commentaries.