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Billy Stickland/INPHO Páidí Ó Sé, 1955 - 2012.
# Páidí
Remembering Páidí ten years on: his nephew reflects on a Kerry and national treasure
Ahead of the tenth anniversary of his passing, Marc Ó Sé tells GAA Weekly why his late uncle was the most funny and driven person he ever met.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 29th 2022, 3:13 PM

YOU MAY REMEMBER him as an eight-time All-Ireland winner, the manager who ended a mini-famine with Kerry and a longer one with Westmeath. For Marc Ó Sé there are hundreds of memories of Páidí Ó Sé and we were lucky enough to hear some of those on this week’s GAA Weekly podcast.

In two-weeks-time the Ó Sé family will remember their husband, father, brother and uncle at his tenth anniversary mass. “He’ll never be forgotten,” Marc says about his uncle, bringing to mind the words Jose Mourinho used when Bobby Robson passed, how a person never truly dies while there is someone on earth who loves them.

That’s Páidí. Or Uncle Páidí as Marc described him, his late father’s brother, the man who lifted him into the Sam Maguire when he was four-years-old, and who brought the trophy back to Ventry the next year when he was five, and again, when he was six.

“There was no great demand within Kerry to be seen with the trophy, as it was the eighth time we’d won it in 11 years,” says Marc. So every kid in his school got a couple of nights with it.

That sounds excessive but there were just 26 children in the entire school, four of which were Ó Sé’s nephews, three of whom he’d later give inter-county debuts to. Páidí was accused of nepotism at the time, even though Darragh would go on to become the best midfielder of his generation, Marc and Tomás two of the game’s greatest defenders.

“He’d back you to the hilt,” says Marc. “We were close, fierce close. He’d pop round the house almost daily and have you in stitches with his stories. He was larger-than-life, a rogue; an absolute rogue.”

He means that in the best possible way, telling a story about how they’d seen an A-lister enter Páidí’s bar one November.

“Martin Sheen is in the pub.”

“Who the fuck is Martin Sheen?”

“Hollywood, Jesus. The West Wing, Páidí.”

“Oh Jesus Christ, I’ll be down in five minutes.”

westmeath-manager-paidi-ose-in-2004 INPHO O'Sé celebrates Westmeath's Leinster title. INPHO

Off Ó Sé went, introducing himself, pointing to the wall of his pub where there were photos of him with Dolly Parton and Tom Cruise. “Martin, how are you doing? Nice to meet you, you’re welcome.”

“You know Tom?” Sheen asked.

“Oh yeah, Tom and myself are personal friends,” said Páidí, who’d met Cruise “only once”.

He asked Sheen if he’d like a drink.

“No thank you,” replied Sheen.

“Ah sure look it is not every day we have a Hollywood celebrity into the bar, look, you’ll have a drink.”

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“No, thank you, I’m an alcoholic,” explained Sheen.

Marc picks up the story: “So Páidí says, ‘No problem, no problem . . . Yerra Christ you’ll have one!’”

“It was always great craic around him,” Marc says, remembering the night of an All-Stars ceremony when Páidí took his three nephews out to Kinsealy to meet Charlie Haughey, staring at the framed photos of world leaders and revolutionaries on the wall, astounded how his uncle was on first-name terms with the most famous politician in Ireland.

“Taoiseach,” Páidí would call Haughey, even though it was well over a decade since he was last in office.

When it came to football, Páidí was “deadly serious”.

Two All-Irelands with Kerry as a manager may not seem a lot but in the context of where they were coming from – barren from 1986 to 1997 – those wins were crucial.

Then there was a Leinster championship with Westmeath, the only one in their history. “He knew his football; he knew how to mould teams; knew how to get the tone right for a big game. Those speeches in dressing rooms, I’ve never heard anything like them; they inspired you. Even now, thinking about them, I can feel the hairs rise up on the back of my neck. He was one of a kind.”

The best of Kerry, the best of the sport. He shared a county’s hopes as well as carried them. To Marc Ó Sé he was also an uncle. “So generous, with his actions, with his words. He taught us the Kerry way, how when you lose, you carry yourself properly and show respect and grace to the opposition. A great man.”

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