BY TOM LYONS
PADDY Murphy is dead, an institution gone.
A man who was not only part of the history of Barryroe but who created much of that history has been taken from us and we are all the poorer for it.
Every parish in Ireland has its characters, its heroes and its legends and in Paddy Murphy, Barryroe had all three rolled into one.
Barryroe is defined by three main bodies, the local primary school, the co-op and the GAA club. All of Paddy’s family attended Barryroe NS, for 49 years he worked in Barryroe Co-op and for 51 years was secretary of the Barryroe GAA Club.
It was through the GAA that we got to know Paddy and it was through the GAA that he became one of the most recognised and well-known characters in West Cork and beyond. His contribution to the GAA in Cork, in Carbery and, especially, in Barryroe was not only long and memorable but was an inspiration to all who knew him.
Having taken on the job of secretary of the Barryroe club on a temporary basis in 1964 at the tender age of 15, he served an amazing 51 years in the position before handing over the reins to his son, Richard.
When Paddy began in 1964, Barryroe was a lowly junior B club, playing out of farmers’ fields and holding its meetings and functions in the now demolished creamery hall. Under Paddy’s guidance the club rose to intermediate, one of his greatest achievements being the winning of the county junior title in 2007. During his half century as secretary Paddy put generations of players through his hands at underage and adult levels and he was always looked on as a popular and supportive father-figure by those players.
Despite all the success on the playing pitches, Paddy got his greatest satisfaction from the physical developments in the club, which he also oversaw as chairman of the development committee, from the purchase of the playing field in 1973 to the wonderful facilities the club boasts of today. Paddy specialiszed in getting grants and raising funds and nobody was outside his reach. His great forte was his reliability and his amazing efficiency in everything he undertook.
Early in 2016 the people of the parish paid a special tribute to Paddy for his huge contribution in so many ways down the years. At that memorable gathering his neighbour Vincent Sexton, chairman of the club for 17 years and a West Cork board delegate with Paddy for many years, paid a glowing tribute to Paddy, adding that ‘Barryroe was lucky to have him’.
Paddy’s grandfather was a carpenter in the British Navy and travelled the world, while his father owned a pub in Dunworley but Paddy was born, reared and spent his life in the same house on the edge of Lislevane village. There, with the love of his life, his wife Ann, he raised a fine family of three, Padraig, Richard and Sinéad.
His garden was fit for the Bloom flower show and his house always welcoming and as neat as a pin. He never dreamed of leaving his native Barryroe, he was one of those rare people who made his dreams come true in his own native place.
Paddy moulded Barryroe to his dreams, especially in the GAA and his ready smile and quick wit were legendary. Small of stature but huge of character, Paddy was a man you enjoyed as a friend, a companion or just to spin a few yarns with after a West Cork Board meeting.
‘I love the GAA, it is my religion, I suppose I’ve grown up with it all my life here in Barryroe,’ Paddy once told us.
And that sharp wit we enjoyed so much at meetings?
‘That’s a tough draw ye got,’ we said to Paddy one night in Dunmanway after his beloved Barryroe hurlers had been drawn against Bandon, playing junior at the time, in the championship.
‘You mean it’s a tough draw for Bandon,’ was Paddy’s quick reply, a glint in his eye.
Paddy will be sorely missed in his native Barryroe and in GAA circles in West Cork and beyond but his legacy will forever remain after him. As long as young men, and women, strike a sliotar, kick a ball or enjoy the fine facilities in the Barryroe GAA Club Paddy Murphy will never be dead.
To Paddy’s wife Ann, his sons Padraig and Richard, his daughter, Sinéad, and all his extended family the sympathy of all West Cork Gaels is sent. Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam dhílis.