Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Late Great
Not surprisingly, the church was packed for the funeral and removal of the late Paddy Monaghan. Here was a man truly loved by the community, a man who traversed so many groups and worthy causes in the village, that his nomination for Person of the Year 2003 drew the largest number of citations ever submitted for any one candidate. I refer to our articles of the Ballymore Bugle in January and February 2003 when so many genuine tributes were paid to the late, great Paddy Monaghan.

Amongst them, brothers Eamon and Ollie Deegan praised Paddy as “Caring, unselfish, dedicated and committed. In his role as secretary of the Community Centre, he negotiated and liaised with FAS agencies on the FAS staff programme at the Community Centre; he oversaw all enhancements to the site, spoke to sponsors and potential sponsors. Above all, he ensured that a very costly facility, built by the people of Ballymore, remained open for business and viable.
His work for the St Vincent de Paul and meals on wheels etc is lesser known. He is an ardent worker for the Church and if you ever needed a lift anywhere, Paddy was your man!”

Billy Gobbett: “He was pivotal to everything that happened in the Community Centre. When our FAS workers weren’t available, then it was Paddy who stepped into the breach to keep the centre open. When the shop had to be restocked, he drove to Newbridge for supplies. Paddy’s name is synonymous with the development and ongoing success of the Centre, virtually a one-man band.”

Matt Purcell, The Chronicle 2000:
“Paddy occupies an unique position in the local handball club. His playing career of over 60 years extends way beyond that of any other player. Originally overshadowed by such players as Bobbie Grattan, Jim Bolger, Bill Lawlor and Liam Evans, Paddy partnered Bill Lawlor in 1953 to success in the All-Ireland junior hard doubles championship, a match they had to win twice due to an objection. Paddy became a official in 1964 and since then, occupied various positions both at Club and County Board levels. He has the distinction of being the only Kildare man to hold the position of Chairman of the Leinster Handball Council; in 1974 the Central Handball Council presented Paddy with the Willwood Tailteann Medal for his work with juvenile handballers. Paddy made history in 1981 by being the first Kildare man to win the Leinster 40 x 20 Golden Master Singles.”
NB Matt also wrote a lovely tribute to Paddy in the September ’99 edition of The Bugle entitled “A Man of Many Parts” in which he pointed out that Paddy supported so many clubs during his lifetime: football, boxing and badminton clubs; the Dramatic Society; the Brass and Reed Band; Community Games and many local charities including the St Vincent de Paul Society.

John Browne
“After Paddy ceased playing, he turned his hand to coaching and trained one of the best handballers we ever had, Tom O Rourke, who won the World Handball Championship and many national titles. Paddy also coached myself for years and no matter where I was playing, he was right beside me and I will always thank him for that. Paddy had a thankless job of taking our youngsters up and down the country to handball tournaments, encouraging them, minding them and feeding them.”

Not only did Paddy train the promising players, the likes of Tom O’Rourke, Daragh Ward, Trevor Winders and John Browne and many others, but he encouraged and devoted the same time to tribes of young lads who would never win county or national titles. All-Ireland winner or ‘Always a Runner-up’, Paddy gave time to all.

Pat Hipwell, Secretary Moone H.C.
“He held every position on the County Kildare Handball Board and I was very privileged to be with Paddy when he was elected Chairman of Leinster Handball Council. He was tremendous with juveniles and a lot of the All-Ireland titles in Ballymore was down to the confidence and tuition they received from Paddy.”

John O Donnell, former Treasurer Kildare County Handball Board:
“Paddy was well-known by handballers all over Ireland as a gentleman, supreme sportsman and administrator. He has brought much honour and pleasure to his club and county during his long handballing career.
He refereed numerous County, Leinster and National Championship games and has served many terms on County and Leinster Committees.”

Jim Clarke:
“I have known Paddy since our school days. In the fifties, when we won Junior, Intermediate and Senior Championship titles in a row, Paddy was our team physio. Everyone associates Paddy with handball but his contribution to the parish of Ballymore is unbelievable, helping in the Church, the St Vincent de Paul, Meals on Wheels etc. He was a good boxer in his day too!”

Angela Cameron Toner from Scotland:
“He played a major part in our lives during our annual visits to Ballymore, when he made every effort to ensure that we enjoyed our summer holidays there. He always seemed to make time for each of us including numerous handouts of pocket money! He encouraged us to join him on regular visits to the ball-alley – a new experience for us – but with his patience, we soon started to enjoy it. We had a lot to thank him for and take this opportunity to say he was The Best Uncle in the World”.

The Late, Great Paddy Monaghan,
a true son of Ballymore.


The Late Great Paddy Monaghan
“I have been asked to say a few words about our great friend Paddy, and as everyone can see by the huge turnout, Paddy had many friends mainly through his long association with handball and those same friends have travelled from many parts of the country to send Paddy on his way, including President Tony Hannon and Secretary Lorcan O’Rourke of the Irish Handball Council, such was the esteem in which Paddy was held within the association.

Paddy was a very private man in his way but yet his door was always open for a chat and a cuppa, and many a night we sat up drinking tea and talking about the places he worked as a steel fixer, and the different houses he stayed in when he was working away from home.

When I was younger, Paddy was driving me to a match somewhere in the west – one of many - we crossed over the bridge in Athlone and he told me he built that bridge on his own over a week-end - and I believed him! He also built Shannon Airport, the Avoca Mines, Ardnacrusha Power Station…..I remember him telling me on one of his trips home from that power station, he was knocked off his motor bike and ended up in Portlaoise Hospital; after a few hours he was released, got back up on the bike and after about 20 minutes, realised he was going the wrong way! And I believed it all…..

He always looked forward to coming home at the weekends and his travelling ended when he got a job locally in the Water Treatment Plant where he would brag about pushing out 36 million gallons of water everyday on his own, right up to his retirement and he was missed greatly by all his colleagues in the job when he retired.

Paddy had many strings to his bow and at some stage in his life he was involved with almost everything in the village, G.A.A., the Band, Badminton, Boxing, Drama, St. Vincent de Paul, Church gate collections for various charities, even modelling!! He was a collector and Eucharistic minister here in the Church, meals on wheels and the list goes on… I used often slag him that it was a good job he didn’t have a ‘real’ job and that it was only the Corporation he worked in - or he wouldn’t find the time for half the things he was involved with.

Paddy loved Ballymore and the people who lived in it and that was proved in 2003 when he won the Ballymore Eustace Person of the Year, an award he was so proud of because it was the people of the village who voted for him. He had many “safe” houses in Ballymore where he could wander in at any time for a cuppa and a chat; I’m not going to name the houses but you know if yours was one of them, the hours of chat with Paddy will never be forgotten.

But of course Paddy’s first love was Handball and he got some reward in 1953 when he won his only All-Ireland medal partnering Bill Lawlor to win the Junior Hardball Doubles. On the other hand, there is well over 100 All-Ireland medals in Ballymore and I have no doubt that Paddy had a hand in every single one of them whether it was driving players or coaching.

And speaking of him driving, there was never a big rush to get in the front with Paddy; on one of those trips he nearly came a cropper when driving Tony Evans and Will Hennessy to a match in Kells, he turned around to say something to Will who was in the back when the car hit a ditch, turned over a couple of times and was hit by an oncoming car. When the three lads were removed from the wreck, Paddy turned to the other two and simply asked “What happened there, lads?”

I know on a personal note that the success I had through handball was 100% down to the hours of support that Paddy gave me, with thousands of miles clocked up driving me to training sessions and matches, and I can still see his beaming smile when I would come out of an alley after winning - such was the delight he got out of it.

As well as keeping the Ballymore Club alive for years, he also served as Chairman of the Leinster Handball Council, and it’s only a few short months ago that the handball world was in Kilkenny saying farewell to another stalwart of the game, Tommy O’Brien. I have no doubt the two of them are up there now having a good laugh and they deserve it, after the suffering they endured prior to their deaths.

I have been warned not to forget Paddy the swimming coach; years ago, every young boy and girl was taught how to swim by Paddy down at the back of the Ball Alley known as the ‘Pike Hole’, that was when we had long hot summer days and a man who didn’t care what time it was as long as the young boys and girls were happy.

On a personal note from Jacinta and myself, Thomas and Niamh, we could not have asked for a better neighbour when he moved up to live beside us, and his love for children continued with Thomas and Niamh. Many a time, they crossed the fence for their daily ration of bread, butter and sugar and he would tell them not to say they got sugar; home they’d come and stand in front of us with sugar from one ear to the other and say: “Paddy didn’t give us any sugar” - and he lookin’ out his kitchen window laughing at the innocence of it!

Paddy was just like a member of our family from his long friendship with my own Mam and Dad and was always included in everything with us and our extended family that was going on from birthdays, weddings, Christmas, holidays, Paddy will be sadly missed not just by us but by anyone that was lucky enough to have met him. Goodbye Paddy.”

Tom O’Rourke

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