A town says goodbye to one of its great givers

Pádraig Harnett who contributed so much to so many during his all too short life

Given the trademark sense of humour for which he was renowned, Pádraig Harnett would have enjoyed the slight slip of the tongue by the celebrant at his Requiem Mass this bank holiday Monday morning.

Reflecting on the enormous commitment Pádraig had made to so many organisations during his all too short lifetime, Fr John Buckley started listing them off but inadvertently happened to refer to the IFA as opposed to the FAI.

The laughter that filled the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Currow indicated that whatever about soccer being his great sporting love, agriculture was never very high on Pádraig’s list of priorities and membership of the Irish Farmers’ Association was not exactly something he aspired to.

Anything else, though, and Pádraig Harnett probably had turned his hand to it at some point in time, such was his great involvement in community life and his close association with so many sporting codes.

A staunch member of Killarney Celtic FC, having held every position of responsibility with the organisation, it was most appropriate that Pádraig’s coffin was draped in the green and white Celtic flag.

A sense of community was very important to Pádraig (left) who is pictured here with Cathal Walshe and Margaret Synon at a Christmas in Killarney community tea dance.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

Fittingly too, the club staged an extensive guard of honour today and as his funeral cortege wound its way slowly through the streets of Killarney on Sunday night.

It was Pádraig’s poignant last journey through the town he loved so well, which culminated with a spontaneous and prolonged round of applause at the top of High Street. On a still and cold late October night, with darkness about to fall, a town was saying thank you and goodbye to one of its great givers.

He was very much in the public eye through his work as a sports reporter, a broadcaster, an event organiser, a PRO for many sporting organisations, a stalwart on many committees, an opinion former who was never slow to speak his mind on any subject and, ultimately, a community activist.

After studying hotel management in Galway, Pádraig initially worked in the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney and the Earl of Desmond Hotel in Tralee before he changed careers and took up a role as cinema manager in Tralee.

He later worked closely with gifted musician Liam O’Connor through whose show – and through his support of the Republic of Ireland soccer teams – Pádraig got to see much of the world.

Killarney was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Pádraig Harnett

Whatever about hospitality and showbusiness, sport was most certainly his great calling in life and he soon began to dedicate more of his time to reporting on several codes, from soccer to basketball, rallying to cycling and a good job he did too, both as a broadcaster on local radio and as an on-the-spot reporter for the local and national print media.

Very active in soccer as schoolboy and schoolgirls’ level, Padraig was elected to the FAI National Council in 2019 and was a member of the FAI general assembly while he was also named FAI national PRO of the year on one occasion.

Pádraig moved to Currans following his marriage to Maura in 2009 and it was there that he was laid to rest following the funeral Mass this morning at which Killeentierna Parish Priest, Fr John Buckley, the principal celebrant, was joined on the altar by Canon James Linnane, Canon Tom Looney, Monsignor Dan O’Riordan, Killarney Parish Administrator Fr Kieran O’Brien, Diocesan Secretary Nicholas Flynn and Fr Seán Horgan.

Symbols of Pádraig’s life brought to the altar included his laptop and mobile phone to remember the great body of work he got through on a weekly basis, a globe to remember his love of travel, a puzzle book to reflect his love of quizzes – many of which he helped organise as fundraisers – an FAI award he received for services to soccer, a book to symbolise his love of reading and knowledge and a family photograph to reflect on his deep love for his family and friends.

At the close of the Requiem Mass, before Pádraig was laid to rest in Ardcrone Cemetery in Currans, strains of Frank Sinatra’s My Way echoed through the packed Church of the Immaculate Conception.

And now, the end is near and so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full, I travelled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Pádraig Harnett, you certainly did that.

Now rest in peace.

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