GARDA Paudie Tuohig, who was laid to rest today following a very poignant Requiem Mass in his home village of Ballinagree, Co Cork, has been remembered as a man of many parts – all of them admirable.
Mourners who gathered in the small country church, and several hundred more who watched a livestreaming of the service, heard that he was a devoted husband and father, a great family man, a hugely respected Garda, a man of the people and a passionate and accomplished sportsman who was blessed with a great sense of humour and was greatly loved.
The gathering was told that as a Garda, he will be remembered for his gentlemanly nature, his sense of fairness, for being upbeat, loyal and helpful and for his calm and reassuring ways.
The funeral service took place in St John the Baptist Church, a short stroll from his home in Ballinagree, where Paudie was baptised 44 years ago, where he received the sacraments of First Confession, First Communion and Confirmation and where, today, he was handed back to God.
His colleagues in An Garda Siochana shouldered his coffin to and from the church and escorted the cortege as it wound its way to St Colman’s Cemetery in Macroom where he was laid to rest.
Principal celebrant, Killarney Parish Administrator Fr Kieran O’Brien, who was friendly with Paudie, said the gathering was not only to mourn his death but to celebrate his life and to offer support to his family, friends and colleagues.
“It’s very hard to find the right words but we pray with you and we pray for you. On behalf of the people of this parish and on behalf of the people of Killarney, we offer our sincerest sympathies to you,” he told the grieving family.
Fr O’Brien said there was “a powerful statement” witnessed in Killarney on Tuesday when hundreds of people lined the streets in solidarity with Paudie’s wife, Diane, and family, as a hearse carrying the tricolour-draped coffin embarked on a final journey through the streets that he had patrolled so diligently for 17 years as a member of An Garda Siochana.
The father of two little girls, one born just last week, Paudie passed away in Cork University Hospital last Sunday following a very short battle with cancer.
“Paudie fought hard to be a year older in April, for Tara Grace’s second birthday and to see Olivia into the world. They were his goals and he got all three,” Fr O’Brien reflected.
He said, throughout the ordeal of his illness, Paudie and Diane maintained their great faith and never once displayed an ounce of bitterness or anger as they were so accepting and so strong at all times.
“Paudie bore his cross with great dignity, with fortitude and being the man he was, illness didn’t change him,” Fr O’Brien said.
The gathering heard that Paudie and Diane, who were married in St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney three and a half years ago, renewed their vows in the presence of the chaplain in Cork University Hospital just hours before he passed away last Sunday morning.
“While Paudie is gone from our sight, he is clear in our minds and his gift to this world and to Diane is Tara Grace and Olivia Hope,” Fr O’Brien said.
“For his adopted town of Killarney, for this community and for his family in particular, there is no hiding our grief, there is no hiding the sadness and shock or the uphill struggle that is ahead in the coming weeks and months,” he added.
In a moving eulogy, Diane said if love, encouragement and support could have cured Paudie, he would have been Superman but, to her and their two beautiful girls, he is.
She said he has been repeatedly described as a gentleman, a kind soul and a good person and his two little girls will grow up to learn what a warm, kind, loving person he is and how proud he is to be their Daddy
Diane, a Community Garda in Killarney who met Paudie on her first night on the beat, said what he had to go through over the last four months was so cruel and unfair and it shattered their dreams but not once during that time did he complain or lose his beautiful smile.
“In our last few weeks together I know that you finally accepted and truly understood how popular and loved you are. Many people hear this after a loved one has passed but, Paud, you were given the gift of hearing and seeing this all before you left us,” Diane said.
Paudie’s brother, Tadhg, paid a warm tribute to a great family man and talented sportsman who, after flirting with the idea of a career in tourism and hospitality, opted to join An Garda Siochana and he was made for the job.
He was initially stationed in Tralee for a short period of time and then spent a few years in the Bridewell in Dublin before transferring to Killarney 17 years ago.
“He really loved Killarney and he couldn’t get enough of the place. It was clear to see by the turnout in Killarney yesterday that they loved him as well,” Tadhg said.
“He lived in Ballinagree but his heart was in Killarney and I think he was a closet Kerry supporter as well”.
Items brought to the altar to symbolise Paudie’s life included his Garda hat, a football to remember his love of sports, a printed sign to symbolise hope and a CD to recall his fondness for being the first on the dance floor and the last off it.
Two of Paudie’s closest friends in Killarney, Colm Foley and Andrew Joy, brought gifts of a Wispa bar to remember his love of chocolate and a deck of cards remembering some great nights they had in Killarney.
At the close of the poignant service, Paudie’s pal and Killarney singer-songwriter, Cathal Flaherty, delivered an emotion-charged version of the Dermot Kennedy track, All My Friends, which contained the fitting and moving line:
To all my friends
You’ll find your way
Some summer night, I hope I see you again
All my friends
I’d love to stay
Some summer night, I hope I see you again