A Passion for People

A most remarkable man died on 11th August in the townland of Cromane in Co Kerry.

Paddy O’Callaghan spent his life striving to make a society where everyone would be treated with respect and dignity. He was involved in so many areas of life and in an incredible number of organisations. The sport of cycling was a great love. He was active in its administration at local, national and international level. He played a major role in uniting the three cycling bodies after decades of division.

He was a founder of Kerry Community Radio and he was one of the most active in Kerry Life Education. For a number of years he was chairman of South Kerry Development Partnership. He was also a founder of Kerry Mountain Rescue.

Paddy was a dedicated Socialist Republican and he served on Kerry County Council as a Sinn Féin councillor from 1967 to the early 70s. He was principled and had no time for those who sought to create sectarian conflict in the North.

Paddy was a loyal and committed member of the Workers’ Party from the 1950s, when it was Sinn Féin, a narrow-minded and sectarian nationalist party. He never subscribed to this view, always seeking to see beyond the cul-de-sac into which Sinn Féin and the IRA had been diverted for decades. He played a significant role in the discussions and activities which led to the development of the Workers’ Party.

I first met Paddy in the 1950s and we remained firm friends and comrades. Regardless of the time of day or night, whenever called upon, he was always there. He assisted in every possible way the struggle for Civil Rights in the North, and the overall struggle for the unity of the working-class and Ireland.

On top of all his voluntary activity he established garages in Killarney and Killorglin and also bicycle shops in Killorglin. For some years he was manager of the Castlemaine Harbour Fisherman’s Co-op.

A man of infectious good humour, he always saw the glass half full. He had no time for splitters or defeatists. In 1992 when the parliamentary faction betrayed the Workers’ Party and the working-class, he was not surprised. He told me he had for some time before the split recognised a problem hearing reports from friends and comrades about a growing conspiracy in the Dáil against the party. In February 1992 at the rigged Ard Fheis when they failed to secure control of the party, Paddy was one of the first to predict their future. When they called themselves Democratic Left and joined a Fine Gael coalition, he remarked that they had found their real home — being neither Democratic nor Left.

Paddy O’Callaghan had courage and compassion. He loved humanity and respected uplifting human values. He knew the dignity of men and women and hated with a deep hatred whatever or whoever attempted to rob them of that dignity. He loved his country for its people and his country’s history for the peoples’ struggle that could never be contained in narrow pages or narrower creeds. It was this that made him a republican and a socialist of deep conviction. His contribution to the struggle to build a tolerant and equal society not just in Ireland but around the world will be long remembered.

Paddy was buried in Realt na Mara Cromane, near his home. We extend our sincere sympathy to his wife Rita, his sons, Sean, Michael and Ciaran, his sisters Maureen and Dora and his daughters in law Anna, Ann and Mary, and to his extended family.
Seán Garland

Paddy O’Callaghan 1934-2014

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