PEOPLE from all walks of life and from all types of sporting traditions this week paid their respects to the ‘voice of sport’, Paudie Palmer, who tragically died following a road traffic collision near his home in Innishannon.
The Kerry-born C103 sports broadcaster and former secondary school teacher passed away in CUH on Sunday January 8th, surrounded by his family members. His death has cast a dark cloud across the county.
Hundreds of mourners lined the streets of both Bandon and Innishannon to honour the ‘roguish’ broadcaster and to sympathise with his wife Colette and his two daughters, Claire and Emily.
Paudie’s niece, Claudine Keane, attended her uncle’s funeral as did her husband, former soccer international player, Robbie Keane. Other well-known sports broadcasters, his C103 radio colleagues, former inter-county GAA players and other sportspeople also attended his funeral at St Mary’s Church in Innishannon on Wednesday morning.
A family photo, a biology book and a podcast tripod were offered up as gifts in the church which represented the three things that were most important in his life: family, school and sport.
Paudie’s brothers Denis and Johnny spoke glowingly about their late brother and the fact that he had become a grandad following the birth of Lucas Pádraig last September.
Denis said Paudie was a family-oriented man and that family was everything to him. Everyone gravitated towards him, he said, due to his kind and generous spirit. Johnny thanked the people of Cork for the life they gave Paudie and how happy he was. He also thanked everyone who rallied around Paudie during his health scare in 2019.
‘The support he received from a huge circle of friends was of huge comfort to him and that helped him get through it,’ said Johnny.
Paudie’s daughter Claire said she and her sister Emily were proud to be known as Paudie Palmer’s daugthers. ‘Our dad meant everything to us and a piece of all three of us is lost for evermore,’ she said.
Parish priest Fr Finbarr Crowley said Paudie ‘touched so many people’s lives’ and probably didn’t realise the impact that he had on them.
‘The joy he brought to us all. Paudie just got it. Whether that was a junior 3 match or a senior football final, it made no difference to him. He got that sense of community,’ said Fr Crowley.
‘When I think of Paudie, he brings a smile to my face.’
Former Taoiseach and now Tánaiste, Micheál Martin said Paudie will be sorely missed because he was such a ‘distinctive voice’ on the radio and he always had capacity to create debate around sport. Cork North West FF TD Aindrias Moynihan said Paudie ‘brightened so many days for us with his fun commentary’ and said he was always ‘so engaging and good humoured.’
Retired Southern Star editor, Con Downing, who worked with Paudie on the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Awards for almost 25 years said he had an ‘infectiously good humoured personality’ and said you were always guaranteed ‘great fun and banter’ in his company.
‘Every time you met him, you would go away in better form, because he could come out with anything – and usually did!,’ said Con.
‘But we had lots of deep chats too – we were the same age – and he took both his family and teaching day job responsibilities very seriously. That was a side of Paudie that people saw little of; there was a lot more to him than his popular image. All of us associated with Paudie will miss him.’
Kieran McCarthy, sports editor of The Southern Star, said that Paudie is a ‘one-off’ who had the ability to transcend generations and make an impression on young and old, in life and in sport.
‘The show will go on, like life does, but just like life will be less colourful and quieter without Paudie, so too will the awards – but he will never be forgotten,’ said Kieran.
Paudie’s former club, Templenoe GAA also remembered him and said he was ‘very popular’ person in their community with great wit and was a huge supporter of their club.
At this week’s meeting of the local authority, councillors offered their deepest sympathy to the Palmer family with County Mayor Cllr Danny Collins saying Paudie was the ‘voice of Sunday sport.’ Former pupil, Cllr Sean O’Donovan (FF) said Paudie was ‘kind, empathetic and indeed an entertaining educator’, while Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said Paudie was a great friend of his and that he is going to miss him. Cllr Kevin Murphy described him as an ‘absolute top class sports commentator’ who had a great way about him, while Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) said you can only smile when you think of Paudie’s antics on the radio and he reminded councillors of all the community and charity work that Paudie was involved in.
The Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery said they are ‘heartbroken’ that Paudie has left them.
‘Over the past 25 years we have all grown to love Paudie and he brought great craic into our lives. We all left the monthly award presentations in the hotel happier and lighter having spent time in his company,’ they tweeted.
His niece Claudine tweeted: ‘Today we lost our lovely, talented, kind, charismatic and witty uncle the legend.’
St Brogan’s College, where he taught for 40 plus years said the school community is ‘heartbroken’ at the loss of their friend and colleague.
‘Paudie was the most amazing people person whose energy and positivity was catching. He was hugely loyal too and supportive of our school. He brought so much to our school and to us as a school community that he will forever have a place in our hearts.’
A 33-year-old Ukrainian national remains in custody in relation to the collision where he has been charged with four counts or hit and run at Dromkereen Cross, Innishannon on December 30th last