Sad and sudden passing of a true friend

Peter Campbell @dgldemocrat

It has been one of the saddest weeks. The voice of Donegal GAA, Séamus Mac Géidigh of RTÉ Ráidió na Gaeltachta, was taken from us so suddenly on Monday evening.

When news of his death came through it left the county and much further afield stunned. I can only imagine how shocking it was for his family.

It is not easy to understand how someone so loved and seemingly in the prime of their lives is taken, and taken so suddenly. Although it happens many times, it again makes us question so many things.

Séamus Mac Géidigh was one of those people who was so loved, and he didn’t have to work hard to be in that position. He did so by just being himself - professional, quiet, efficient, articulate, understanding, modest. His work with RTÉ Ráidió na Gaeltachta was done without any fuss, but what a commentator.

Séamus had no ego and would never be the first in the queue looking for publicity. Indeed, I remember when we started doing a jury for Donegal county finals and we included him in the jury. When we went looking there wasn’t a file picture of Séamus in the Democrat. We had to ask him to send on a picture.

The abiding memory that will stay with me of Séamus is his ability to deliver a commentary on a game. Countless times, whether it be at the side of a field, on a lorry or in a commentary box, Séamus would burst into a commentary and for a brief moment many in the crowd would turn around and were in awe at his delivery.

As I said at the beginning he was the voice of the GAA in Donegal. He was the Donegal equivalent of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, and as one person said to me on Tuesday, he was unlike the other local radio commentators, he was unbiased.

At the Donegal senior county final last year, Séamus was embarrassed when the Co. PRO, Ed Byrne, produced a special cake to mark his 21st county final.

For most of that time, he has occupied the end box upstairs in the press box, and on many occasions I have been in the box adjoining. I can safely say that in my time involved I have not met a more sincere, gracious or better person in that press box. Words are bandied about at a time like this, and yet they wouldn’t do him justice. A gentleman - gentle and a great man. He was always helpful and co-operative. His texts were always short, never long-winded, and when you responded, there was always a ‘Mhaith thu’ in return.

When many of us would have a cynical or bitter word about a player or a mentor, Séamus would enjoy the banter and laugh with us, but he never had a bad word for anyone. While his commentary was so clear and articulate, when the mic was off, his was a gentle and calming voice.

His loss to his family will be immense. His loss to his local community, to Ráidió na Gaeltachta, to the Donegal GAA world leaves a huge void.

This week Séamus would have been busy preparing for his work at the Ulster final on Sunday week. He would be one of the first to arrive at the ground, with time to talk to gatemen and supporters, when others would be arriving late and rushing around like busy fools.

We will remember him in that way. A true friend. Taken so suddenly and so early.

I like the Irish term, Ní beidh a leithéid ann arís. It is so true in the case of Séamus Mac Géidigh.

My sympathies to his wife, Dolores; daughters Éadaoin and Póilín and son Dónal.

As I write this on Wednesday morning, I received news of the death of a family member, James Hegarty, at just 30 years of age. James was given 40 days after being told of his illness. He was another special person.

I had been making plans to be at Séamus’s funeral in Gortahork, but life has a way of changing things. We are not masters of our own destiny.

They will both be laid to rest tomorrow (Friday), Séamus in Gortahork at 12 noon; James in Ardara at 1pm.

May they both rest in peace.


News of the death of Séamus Mac Géidigh came as a total shock. We heard the news five minutes before the start of our County Committee meeting in the Villa Rose Hotel on Monday night. Like many others, I was lucky enough to speak with him briefly on Saturday evening in Breffni Park at the end of the Ulster semi-final against Monaghan and he surely had a beaming smile on his face following a great win for his beloved Donegal. He was a true Gael and a great supporter of everything GAA in the county. My many encounters with him came primarily in his role as a representative of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, who were the proud sponsors of the Donegal Senior and Reserve Football Championships for 10+ years. Séamus was always there covering our club and county games, County Committee meetings and other GAA events. He will be a tremendous loss to his wife Dolores, children, extended family, friends, work colleagues and the members of his local Cloich Cheann Fhaola club. Any time I met him, he came across as a warm, engaging and a very sincere person who always made time for a chat.

He was a great commentator of our Gaelic Games and for someone like me and many others with only a medium grasp of the Irish language, I was still able to follow him and the football or hurling game that he described for his audience. He was a tremendous promoter of the Irish Language and Culture for the GAA, something he did very quietly without many people being aware of it. The reaction of the GAA world is one of total shock with the sudden passing of a man so young. He was such a well recognised face at GAA events all over the country. We observed a minute’s silence and a prayer was said prior to our Committee meeting on Monday night to remember a true gentleman and a friend to many that will be sorely missed. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a ainm uasal.

- Seán Ó Duinnín, Cathaoirleach,

CLG Dhún na nGall.

I have known Seamus for over twenty years but I really didn’t get to know the real Seamus until sixteen years ago. It was around that time that he asked me to come with him to matches and to analyse games. Seamus approached his job in a very professional manner, nothing was left to chance and he always did a thorough research on whoever was playing – the teams, players and all the different statistics involved. As one would expect Seamus was an out and out Donegal man, steeped in the Gaelic cultural tradition of his people but his professionalism never allowed any bias in his broadcasting of a match; that was the only advice Seamus ever gave to me – never to refer to the team as ‘we’ or ‘us’, when he would ask me for my opinion during a match, it always had to be Donegal.

Last Saturday evening was a terrific evening for Donegal supporters heading home after a great victory and there’s no doubt that Seamus and I were in high spirits as we travelled over the Tyrone hills and speculated on a Donegal-Tyrone Ulster final. We disagreed on the penalty awarded to Monaghan, put on bets about it, and decided to wait for the Sunday Game verdict. Little did I realise when I got out of his car in Termon that I would never see him alive again.

Seamus was a very special person: intelligent, efficient, kind, dedicated, loyal and hardworking; he was also religious and a great family man. I will always remember Seamus the personality; during all the years that I worked with him both in the station and out of it, I never saw him angry and he was never one to criticise people.

Bíonn cuid mhór cairde ag achan duine ar an saol seo ach tá dlúthchairde doiligh a fháil. Ba dlúthchara domhsa a bhí in Seamus agus ní dhéanfaidh mé dearmad air go deo. Ar dheislámh Dé go raibh a anam uasal, dílis, Gaelach.

- Aodh Mac Laifeartaigh, Ná Dúnaibh.

I wouldn’t have the same contact with Séamus as I would with the rest of local journalists because I don’t have Irish. But I would have got to know him well over the last six years, meeting him after matches and at various functions and press days.

I always found him to be a warm man and he always seemed to be in good form regardless of whether we won or lost. He was a genuinely nice man and like all the lads it came as a huge shock to me on Monday night when the word came through.

We were having a bite to eat after training at the time when Eamon McGee got the word. He will be a huge loss to the GAA and most of all his family.

On my own behalf and all the players I want to extend sympathies to his wife Dolores, his daughters Éadaoin, Póilín and son Dónal, his extended family and all his colleagues at R Na G.

- Donegal team manager, Rory Gallagher.

His death is an awful loss and like everybody else I’m in total shock since I heard the news. He was a lovely man and never had a bad word to say about others.

I have known Séamus since my playing days and I always found him a fair and decent man. Any day you saw Séamus at a dressing room you knew it was a big game and the big game of the day.

He was a very good commentator and was always very fair in his commentary and always saw the positive and was never critical of a player.

If you were having a bad day the one thing you could be sure of was that Séamus was not going to be critical of you.

In more recent years I have worked alongside him on commentary and I always found him to be very well prepared and a true professional.

My deepest sympathies to Dolores, Póilín, Éadaoin and son Dónal and the rest of his family.

- John Joe Doherty, Naomh Columba and former county player and manager.

God save us, it is terribly sad. Séamus was one of the most genuine men you could meet. He was so genuine that if Séamus McGeídigh told you something you could bank it as being true.

I never heard him say a bad word about anyone.

I have known Séamus for a right few years now and I’m very sad about his untimely passing, but I’m so happy that I shared a couple of days with him only a few weeks ago.

I travelled down and home from this year’s All-Ireland Comórtas Peile Na Gaeltachta finals in Ballyvourney on the June Bank Holiday weekend with him. It was a long journey and we discussed everything from the GAA to the Irish language and culture and I really enjoyed his company.

I’m so happy now to have shared that journey and time with him. His death will leave a huge void and for those who knew Séamus it will take us a long time to get over his death.

My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Dolores, and all his family.

Paddy Béag Gillespie, Naomh Colulmba

My mobile ‘phone lit up,

Páidí Beag, it rang,

“Have you heard the sad news”?

“Our friend Séamus Mac Geidigh is dead”.

Emotional, both !

Tá an Laoch ar lár.

Gone before us, gone from us.

Slán, a chara

- Charlie Ó Dónaill, Cill Chartha.