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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 21 July, 2019

The Irishman who helped save Barcelona finally gets a proper grave

The Irish footballing legend also lined out for a number of clubs including Belfast Celtic and Man United during his playing days.


FOR ALL HE achieved in his life, Patrick O’Connell’s last days ended sadly.

The Irish footballing legend, who helped save Barcelona from extinction during the Spanish Civil War during his five years there as manager, died impoverished and was buried in an unmarked grave in St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Kilburn, London.

O’Connell, who also lined out for a number of clubs including Belfast Celtic and Man United during his playing days, has long been one of the great underappreciated figures in Irish football.

However, in recent years, there have been attempts to honour his legacy, spurred on by the fine work performed by the Patrick O’Connell Memorial Fund.

In 2012, TG4 produced an excellent documentary on O’Connell (see below), while during a Betis-Barcelona match last December, he was honoured by the two teams that he managed at various points in an official ceremony held in the Presidential Josep Suñol Box at the stadium.

And thanks to the efforts of the Patrick O’Connell Memorial Fund, 57 years after his death, the Irish legend’s grave has now been renovated, with a gravestone put in place to properly reflect his achievements.

A statement on the organisers’ official website added: “April 2016 saw one of the primary goals of the POC Fund realised.

“The grave of Don Patricio (St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Kilburn, London) has been fully restored; a headstone finally bears the name of Patrick O’Connell.

The memorial is understated, as the man himself was. There’s a sense among those who have studied the life and times of Don Patricio that this modest tribute in stone best exemplifies his character.

“Details of the official unveiling of the grave will follow in May. For now, we rest assured that the memory of Patrick Joseph O’Connell is finally written in stone.”

Source: Celtic Chuck/YouTube

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Paul Fennessy

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