While the GAA world has been shocked with the sudden passing of legendary Kerry footballer Páidí Ó Sé, the eight times All-Ireland winner has been remembered with great fondness in Donegal.
The late Mr. Ó Sé was one of the most recognisable figures in GAA and visited Donegal just two weeks ago. He was laid to rest on Tuesday.
He travelled from Kerry recently to personally invite the Termon ladies team to participate in his annual tournament and he enjoyed an evening socialising in Blake’s Bar in Letterkenny during his trip.
Close friend and former Minister for Sport and Tourism, Dr Jim McDaid, said the Kerry man’s visit was “typical” of him wishing to appear in person to make the invitation rather than send a written invite.
“He would say, ‘I don’t like sending invitations. I like to come in person so if anyone has any questions or anything’. So along he came in person to Termon less than two weeks ago,” Dr McDaid stated.
Dr McDaid recalled a legend on the football field and a very generous person off the pitch.
He said a number of years ago he made a journey involving four flights to bring him from Farranfore airport to Donegal for a St Eunan’s presentation night and “refused to take a penny for it”.
Dr. McDaid said he and Mr.Ó Sé had “a few expeditions” in their many years of friendship and recalls one great experience they enjoyed as they made their way from Kerry to Dublin.
“Me and him had a few expeditions over the years. I recall one time a number of years ago, about seven or eight years ago, he used to have a party around the 6th of December. The place would be going all day and night and there would be lots of politicians and footballers there. I said to him that I had to get back to Dublin by ten in the morning and he said ‘Don’t worry. I’ll make sure you get there’. Later that night I saw this man being carted out of the bar by three men. Two had him by the shoulders and one by the two feet. He didn’t even have his socks on and I thought ‘That’s someone who has had too much’. Anyway the next day at 8.30 in the morning someone called for me and took me to Páidí’s house where there was a helicopter sitting out in the garden. He came out and said to come in and we’ll get a quick cup of tea before heading off to Dublin. After a while I looked out at the helicopter and I saw the pilot getting into it and it was the man who was carted out the night before,” he stated.
Once airborne he said he spoke with the pilot and asked him if he was OK to navigate his way to Dublin with him and his friend on board and the response was that they would be fine as he would simply “follow the Shannon and then take the Grand Canal into Dublin”, he recalled.
Former captain of the Donegal ladies team, All-Ireland junior and Intermediate winner, Maureen “Mo” O’Donnell said it was an honour to meet the former All-Star when he visited Termon recently.
“It was an honour to meet him and it was a great shock when we heard he passed away. He came along to invite us to his tournament in February and explain why he wanted us in there and the history of it,” Maureen said.
Former 1983 Ulster winning Donegal captain, Michael Carr, played both against him and alongside him when they lined out for an All-Ireland Gealtacht team that played against County Clare in the 1980s.
He said he was a “great ambassador” for the Gaeltacht and the game in general as well as being a “larger than life character” who enjoyed a playing career for one of the “greatest teams ever”.
Páidí Ó Sé was 57-years-old when he died suddenly of a suspected heart attack last Saturday. He is survived by wife Máire and children Neasa, Siún and Pádraig Óg.