Heavenly radio gains a new superstar host in Paudie Palmer: John Cashman pays tribute to a GAA icon

'He was part of the fabric of C103, even in the dark days when he courageously fought his illness, his positive spirit continuously shone.'
Heavenly radio gains a new superstar host in Paudie Palmer: John Cashman pays tribute to a GAA icon

The late, great Paudie Palmer. Picture: Denis Boyle

THE sudden departure from this life of Paudie Palmer saw a massive outpouring of emotion. 

So many people felt he was so much a part of their life. The thoughts and prayers of all of us have been with Paudie's immediate family, his wife Colette, daughters Claire and Emily and his brothers have especially been foremost in the minds of many.

He was the ultimate family man and for him, family always came first, with sport and school matters following behind. Family is a word that has been used so often since Paudie's passing because his family extended far and wide to include radio listeners, newspaper readers, podcast followers, GAA players and the wider community.

For those of us who have soldered for over three decades with the man, the passing of Paudie Palmer has been deeply felt. He was part of the fabric of C103, even in the dark days when he courageously fought his illness, his positive spirit continuously shone. 

Through phone chats, text messages, WhatsApp and his own social media words, you always felt that Paudie would triumph and one day come back to join us all in the commentary box. So it turned out to be that he made an amazing comeback, returning to his old self and enjoying more memorable stints behind the microphone.

SPORTING FAMILY

Since C103 (formerly 103FM County Sound) took to the airwaves, local and national GAA live commentary games have become a central part of the station's output across the country and much further afield online. A close-knit sporting family developed with many great memories created and great friendships formed. 

The remains of Paudie Palmer being shouldered from St. Mary's Church, Innishannonn. Picture: Denis Minihane.
The remains of Paudie Palmer being shouldered from St. Mary's Church, Innishannonn. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Paudie Palmer was central to this family unit. His enthusiasm was evident in every conversation, his passion for the game he loved was unquenchable and his love of what he did was infectious.

On a personal note, as workday colleagues, we were most often not in the same place, or sometimes not in the same county as for many years we shared the live commentary duties on a Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon. But there was always the connectivity on the other end of the phone or via text messages. 

Paudie's messages were frequent and not surprisingly quite often with a sprinkling of wit. 

The link between the GAA radio team was always strong and the great man loved the match day banter in the company of Head of Sport Michael Scanlon and long-term colleagues Finbarr McCarthy, Jim Nolan (his close neighbour and dear friend) and John Fintan Daly.

That in essence was the football crew and of course, they as a group shared many a lengthy car journey to all corners of the country following the fortunes of Cork football.

Then there were the double-up days when back-to-back live commentary games were broadcast, so we all got the opportunity to work together. Paudie and I would share commentary duties but it was off the microphone when the real stories were told. The half-time cuppa would inevitably feature Paudie's side show with an intriguing tale to tell or a fresh angle to relate on the topical story of the day. 

Even after the dullest of games on the darkest and coldest days, and believe me there were plenty, Paudie always lit the conversation flame. Those of us in the press box brigade somehow always managed to gravitate in his direction. When you heard the intro 'let me tell you something my good man' you always knew it was worth tuning in.

Paudie had no sides, he was as you saw him.

Kieran McGeary, Brendan O'Driscoll and Ken Perrott of Cork's 96FM and C103 at the funeral. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Kieran McGeary, Brendan O'Driscoll and Ken Perrott of Cork's 96FM and C103 at the funeral. Picture: Denis Minihane.

A great colleague, trusted friend and as genuine a person as one would ever wish to meet. He saw the good in everyone and in every situation, managing to highlight the positive qualities of players, teams and managers, even when things were far from good for them.

Dr Con Murphy and Pat Spillane paid their respects to the late Paudie Palmer. Picture: Dan Linehan
Dr Con Murphy and Pat Spillane paid their respects to the late Paudie Palmer. Picture: Dan Linehan

Sunday, January 8 was a dark day for all of us. John Paul McNamara initially at 10am and then Rory Burke from 2pm both broadcast live as the outpouring of emotion flowed into the C103 studios. They admirably showed their professional qualities in coping with what was surely the most difficult day of their radio lives. They portrayed all the thoughts on a very sad day for all the C103 family.

Paudie Palmer has passed on from us - right now he is in the company of another new circle of friends - no doubt he is looking down on us and saying as he often did 'drive on my man'.

That heavenly radio station has gained a new superstar host.

Rest in peace Paudie.

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