Local performers launch tribute to legendary Kerryman

August 5, 2013

A poem penned as a tribute to legendary Kerryman, the late Páidí Ó Sé, has become the title song on a CD recorded by two Culloville men – now living in Mullaghbawn – in honour of the famous footballer.

Deeply moved by Ó Sé’s sudden passing in December 2012, local storyteller and composer Pat McGeeney decided to pen a tribute to the man he has always held in high esteem.

Titled ‘The Ventry Boy’, the lengthy monologue pays tribute to the star’s footballing prowess which saw him claim ten All-Ireland football titles with his native county before going on to win two more as a manager.

One of the most decorated names in the sport, Ó Sé was one of the most recognised faces in the country.  Pat McGeeney had the pleasure of meeting with him many times and the two men, both steeped in Gaelic football, enjoyed a great rapport.

Speaking to The Examiner, Pat recalled those times that prompted him to put pen to paper: “Obviously when somebody like Páidí Ó Sé passes away, the first thing you want to do is recognize their achievements.  Páidí played in ten All-Ireland finals, eight of which he won.  In those ten finals there was just one point scored against him – that in itself speaks volumes.  He was just such a larger-than-life character who had an infectious personality.

The decision to develop the poem into a song came about quite by accident, however.  Having worked together at numerous events in the past, Pat enlisted the help of his friend Tony O’Callaghan, a traditional singer.  The pair had been keen to put together a compilation to include verse and music, and ‘The Ventry Boy’ turned out to be such an opportunity.

“We had it in our heads over a period of time for different things, wondering if it would be possible to put music to lyrics Pat had written and this poem struck me straight away that it would work as a song,” Tony explained.

“As with everything, we had to work it for a long time before we could get it to fit.  Pat had the idea of two or three tunes that would have went along with the song and, based on a few popular airs, we just came up with the tune ourselves.”

Tony’s son Niall arranged and performed the music for the recording which took place in the Castlewellan studios of Terry Cowan.

Both the original monologue version as well as the shortened song of ‘The Ventry Boy’ feature on the CD of the same name, while the recitation ‘The Greatest of the Gael’ and the song ‘The Boys of Barr na Sraide’ complete the four-track album.

Pat explained how the tracks were chosen for the album: “The Greatest of the Gael is a poem written by John Duggan and fits in with the whole ethos of what we were hoping to achieve with this tribute CD.  It is about an old man, while sitting in Croke Park in 1993 when Derry first won the All-Ireland, begins reminiscing about the great life he had lived and his great joy in watching his county win the All-Ireland title.”

Completing the album, ‘The Boys of Barr na Sraide’ was chosen as it is a rich and well-known traditional Kerry song, which was sung at Páidí’s funeral.

The CD is on sale locally with a percentage of the proceeds going to the Heart Foundation charity, on behalf of the Ó Sé family, in honour of Páidí.

Launch night

Pat and Tony will officially launch the commemorative CD in the presence of the Ó Sé family at Páidí’s Pub in Ventry on Saturday 24 August.  A large contingent of supporters from the local area will accompany them to the event which promises to be a night of top class music, storytelling and craic where many well-known GAA personalities will also be in attendance.

Anyone seeking an excuse for a lively weekend before summer’s end is encouraged to make the journey to Ventry and show support for these two south Armagh men as they pay tribute to one of Ireland’s greatest legends, Páidí Ó Sé.

“To the Kingdom’s sons and daughters, these few words I will say

It was a privilege for us all to watch the great man play.

Near Ventry Bay, west Kerry where Páidí lies at rest

A leader and a legend, a Gael of the very best.

In a game of Gaelic football that is played across our land

The name Ó Sé from Kerry, forever it will stand

Like a beacon to all others who want to play our game

And the man who lit that beacon, King Páidí was his name.”