Paudie Palmer was warm, witty, insightful and a mentor to everyone in the GAA press box

Éamonn Murphy on what made the late, great GAA commentator and columnist so beloved in his adopted Rebel county
Paudie Palmer was warm, witty, insightful and a mentor to everyone in the GAA press box

Paudie Palmer and Therese O'Callaghan at the St Colman’s College v Midleton CBS Cork Post Primary Schools U16A hurling final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last month. Picture: Dan Linehan

A KERRY man universally loved by Rebels: Paudie Palmer was a rarity. 

The Templenoe native and adopted Valley Rovers man, who spent his teaching career in St Brogan's, Bandon, tragically died at the weekend after a car accident on December 29. He loved GAA but above all, he was a people person. Paudie was fascinated by the highs and lows of sport and how it impacted individuals, families and communities.


Whether it was on duty as a commentator for C103 and columnist for  The Echo, that always shone through. What was unique was he had the same effect on those who tuned into his broadcasts or read his copy. 

You always knew he genuinely cared.

Paudie was positive and upbeat even when the results and outlook didn't merit it. Given the various disappointments Cork teams have endured in the modern era, those traits were key to his excellence as a journalist. When he was critical he was never cutting, which is extremely difficult to pull off.

He was cheeky but honest, witty and straight-talking, but enthusiastic and warm. Paudie was hugely intelligent and adept at weaving political references into his columns. However, Paudie never took himself too seriously. He'd scoff at getting any notions!

He loved the underdog story but celebrated greatness too. In what turned out to be his final submission to The Echo, published on the day of his accident, he wrote about Jimmy Barry-Murphy's ongoing fame: "His individualistic flamboyant style during his golden period undoubtedly inspired a legion of young children to peruse Gaelic games as a pathway of sporting choice."

In the same piece, he dubbed David Clifford, "Daithí from Fossa". Paudie had a brilliant turn of phrase and sprinkled a cúpla focal into his writing or on the radio whenever he could. In fact, the relegation play-offs were known throughout Cork as the 'slán leat' finals thanks to Paudie.

It's remarkable to think he only came on board with C103 after commentating on school matches. That background gave him a formidable knowledge of young players and he tracked so many hurlers and footballers from their underage days to county glory. He also promoted ladies football and camogie long before it was popular to do so.

In the press box, he had a kind word and a wry smile for everyone and was a mentor to those starting out in journalism. Along with Michael Scanlon, Finbarr McCarthy, John Cashman and the rest of the C103 team, he travelled to every corner of the county promoting GAA.

Paudie Palmer and John Fintan Daly on duty for C103.
Paudie Palmer and John Fintan Daly on duty for C103.

No one will feel his loss more keenly than his wife Colette, daughters Claire and Emily, grandson Lucas, brothers Denis, John and Richie and extended family. 

If it's any consolation they should know that all who encountered him over his long career, or tuned in as he brought a Junior B game to life with the same flair he showed at All-Ireland finals, will never forget him.

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