21 May 2009
There was deep sadness throughout the entire community as the news spread of the death of Paddy O'Brien of Monard. Paddy was in his fifties but in his short time had lived a life full of activity that had given much joy to many people. Paddy was perhaps best known for his musical qualities and working with his wife Alice in their band "Alice and the Rivals", but that part was just a small side of the fullness of life of Paddy O'Brien. Hundreds of people turned up at his funeral in fullness of praise of Paddy and said he played at their wedding over thirty years ago, but for Paddy he never forgot the wedding of anybody he played at and he travelled all over the country to play. Music was part and parcel of Paddy's life. His parents Jim and Nonie were talented musicians and as a young boy Paddy with the O'Brien family were possibly the first in the area to appear on television, when they were invited to appear on RTE television in the early days of Telefis Eireann. Paddy played the drums for the Coolarne Marching Band that won the All-Ireland but in the intervening years Paddy played a variety of instruments. However, it was with the concert flute that Paddy excelled and his deep involvement with Lackagh Comhaltas saw him lead many musicial sessions. Paddy was a regular visitor to the Fleadhs and he enjoyed traditional music at its best at the Fleadhs. Paddy had played music all his life and musicians from across the county travelled to Lackagh at the weekend to join and pay tribute to Paddy's musical life.
Paddy O'Brien had worked as a plumber and after serving his apprenticeship with the Cunninghams in Galway , he became hugely popular in his trade. Paddy was a hard man to get because he couldn't say "No" to anybody in an emergency. He never shirked responsibility from a dirty job and his friendly approach and hard work made him widely popular with people in need.
Paddy was an outstanding young hurler and following in the footsteps of his father Jim, Paddy went on to play hurling with Turloughmore. When a great under age project was put together Paddy was part of a Turloughmore Under 14 team that went on to capture the Galway Under 14 title and win the inaugural Joe Salmon cup in 1966. Paddy continued to display tremendous promise as an underage hurler in the club, and he was chosen as a member of the panel on the Galway team that made the historic breakthrough in winning the All Ireland winning Under 21 title in 1972. Paddy played at centre back on the Galway Intermediate team that lost the All Ireland final to Tipperary in the same period. Paddy played for Turloughmore in the Co final of 1972 which Turloughmore lost to Castlegar, but as a hurler he was known for his tremendous skill and courage. He was admired by those he played against, treasured by those he played with and looked to have a great future ahead of him until serious illness cut short his hurling career in the seventies.
Paddy's interest in sport never waned and he became a huge supporter of Gaelic games. He travelled the county and country supporting Coolarne National School and Turloughmore club teams in hurling, camogie and football and when it came to needing an umpire or linesman, Paddy was available He became hugely involved in Turloughmore Camogie club and Paddy proudly watched his daughters playing in Croke Park and collect All Ireland medals in camogie. Even despite his recent illness Paddy watched his daughter play in All Ireland camogie finals and never lost his dedication to support his family. Paddy was fittingly elected as President of Turloughmore Camogie club and he treasured the honour they gave to him.
When Paddy wasn't at a Gaelic game he would spend a tremendous amount of time hunting and shooting. For many years Turloughmore Gun Club were one of the biggest around and Paddy was one of the key people in the building up of the Gun Club at Turloughmore. Not alone did they shoot locally but they organised many outings inside and outside the county. Paddy was an ace marksman and took tremendous pride in the opening day of the pheasant shoot. It was fitting that pheasant feathers would line his grave that was also decorated with flowers as his remains were laid in his final resting place. Paddy was also a keen fisherman and spent many hours along by the River Clane fishing. He treasurer his time along the river with friends where the peace and quiet of the riverbank provided a welcome respite from a normal busy lifestyle. Paddy was also deeply involved with his family in their education and during their period at Coolarne National School, he served two terms on the Board of Management and became a tremendous asset to the school and was always generous with his time and talents.
Above all else Paddy was a great family person and devoted much time to his family and their interests. It never mattered to Paddy where they wanted to go to, he was always available for his family. Even in the darkest days of his illness he fought it was patience and good humour and never put himself first. As an individual Paddy was larger than life and was the life and soul of every gathering. He was very witty and a wonderful story teller and a good friend to all As Paddy would say "the moral of the story is" that we are the richer for having known him and the poorer because of his untimely passing.
His remains were removed from Lackagh Mortuary Chapel to the Church of Our Lady of Knock, Lackagh. Con-celebrated Requiem Mass was celebrated with chief celebrant Fr John D Flannery, PP Lackagh who was joined by Fr Gus O'Brien, PP Ballinfoile, Fr Joe O'Brien, PP Abbeyknockmoy, Fr Michael Donnelly PP Caltra, Fr Oliver Hughes PP, Cummer, Fr Michael O'Flynn, CSSR and Fr. Brendan Gunning, SMA. Members of Turloughmore Camogie Club, Turloughmore Gun Club, Turloughmore Hurling Club, students from Vocational School, Athenry formed a guard of honour and escorted his remains as they were brought to Lackagh Cemetery for burial. Members of Lackagh Comhaltas played some delightful airs at the graveside after the burial.
Paddy O'Brien is survived by his wife Alice, sons, James, John and Padraic, daughters, Laura, Noreen and Aisling, daughter-in-law Marie, grand-children, sisters, Nora, Bridie, Anne and May, in laws, nephews, nieces and a large circle of relatives and friends.
Tuam Herald, 21st May 2009