It was with great sadness that news of the passing of Paddy Fagan (in Canada) was received in the locality, and particularly in Castlepollard hurling circles.
Paddy departed this life while out walking his dogs on November 25. He was just 70 years old. He was a native of Millcastle, Castlepollard where he was born and reared and grew up in a house steeped in GAA tradition. His father Charles Fagan - local auctioneer and rate collector - was a fine footballer in his prime, winning Leinster junior honours with Westmeath in 1940. He also served as chairman of Westmeath County Board from 1953 to 1956.
Paddy attended Ballycomoyle N.S. where his mother was Head Mistress and subsequently St. Finians College, Mullingar. He first began to catch the eye in schools competitions and it was soon evident that he was something special. Having finished Primary School he went to St Finians where he excelled at all sports played there, particularly football which was the principal code. With his brother Larry (R.I.P.) he playd on the 1960 college team which won the Leinster title and progressed to the All-Ireland final vs St. Jarlaths, Tuam, played in Athlone. Defeat was their lot that day by a team that sported several subsequent members of the great Galway team that won three All-Ireland titles in a row.
However, he never lost his love for hurling whilst in this football-orientated school where many a budding hurling career was lost because of the virtual absence of the cultivation of hurling there. Each vacation saw him in the Lord's Field with his hurley and truth to tell despite his football prowess, the caman was his first choice. Progressing through the grades he won U-17 and minor titles, being captain in both grades. In 1960 while still only 16 he graduated on to the 'Pollard senior side. Some of the older heads were sceptical of someone of such tender years playing senior, but he confounded all the critics by showing remarkable maturity. He missed the 1960 county final vs Castletown-Geo, having to go back to Finian's to commence his Leaving Cert year. If he missed the final, Pollard missed him even more.
Come 1961 and Pollard's first senior title in 24 years. Paddy starred at midfield partnering Tommy Ring.
He again figured at midfield two weeks later when the Feis Cup was won after a lapse of 27 years. He wore the county jersey for the first time on 15/04/1962, figuring at left full forward in the National League Division 2 final win over Roscommon in Athlone. From then until his departure in 1967 he was a regular on the county team and won his second Division 2 medal when Westmeath defeated Laois in Croke Park on 03/05/1964 with a scoreline of 3-09 to 3-07. Paddy contributed 3-01 of the Westmeath total from the centre forward position, all from play. Another Feis Cup medal was won in 1963.
Then came what he always regarded as the most cherished memory of his relatively short sojourn with his beloved 'Pollard, when he captained the back-to-back championship winning sides of 1965/66. The future looked bright at that point for the young 'Pollard side. Then emigration once again reared its ugly head. Several of the players were lost to Canada. The final nail in the coffin came when Paddy Fagan left on October 23rd 1967, rather strangely one year to the date from his last championship victory.
As careers go, his was a relatively short one, but in that time he achieved much and his service to both club and county was unstinting and given with great honesty and dedication. When the club held its Centenary Celebrations in 2003, by a happy coincidence he was home on a visit and was thrilled to join in all the functions with his colleagues of yore and pose for photographs. If a list of all-time greats of Castlepollard hurling were to be compiled, the name Paddy Fagan would figure prominently.
He was predeceased by his wife Audrey and brothers Larry and Tom. To his partner Brenda, daughters Erin, Tracey and Andrea, sons-in-law, grandchildren, sister Margaret, brothers Cathal and Eugene, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, sincere sympathy is tendered.
Funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, 127 Liberty St. S., Bowmanville on Monday, December 1st at 11 a.m with cremation at Bowmanville Crematorium.
Special word of thanks to his former team mate Paddy McCabe (Snr) in composing this tribute.