OBITUARIES Paddy Wickham was the lifeblood of the GAA in Wexford for 70 years
THE GAA in Wexford and beyond is in mourning on the death of their President and former Chairman, Paddy Wickham.
Paddy passed away peacefully at his residence, Red Pat’s Cross, Bloomfield, Davidstown, on Friday, with the sad news leaving the GAA in the county in shock at the passing of the legendary figure.
Hundreds of people filed into his home through Saturday to pay respects to one of GAA’s most popular officials.
He had served the county in so many capacities as an officer of the County Board over so many years, that he became a dominant figure in the Association, not alone in the county but also at provincial and national levels too.
Paddy was part of the GAA for some 70 years, having played his football at under-age level from his early youth, going on to serve with Ballyhogue whom he helped to county Senior football honours. He was a man who really enjoyed every minute of his involvement in the GAA seven days and nights a week and, if not attending meetings, he would regularly travel to games throughout the county.
He was a proud Wexford man as he followed the county’s fortunes in both hurling and football throughout the country, with possibly his most special moment arriving during his tenure as County Chairman in 1996, when Martin Storey lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup in Croke Park, the last occasion the county took the famous trophy home.
Paddy was a man who lived life to the absolute full. He was a man who never looked back, always looking forward to what could be achieved for the betterment of the Association in the county. Whenever one met Paddy, no matter from what club, his first words were always: ‘How will you do this year?’
It was that closeness with the clubs that helped him become such a popular figure and one of the biggest vote gatherers ever in the Association in the county. If a book had been opened with Paddy contesting an election he would have been unbackable given the shortness of the odds. That just about sums up his popularity in the county.
Paddy played his early football with Ballyhogue, winning a Junior championship medal in 1961, followed by a Senior medal in 1962.
It was while farming at his home at Red Pat’s Cross that Paddy became involved with the Davidstown- Courtnacuddy club, where he was to go on an hold practically every officer position, while also during this time he served as Chairman and Secretary of Enniscorthy District GAA.
One of the many highlights of his career was when he was elected County Chairman in 1994, a position he held for some seven years. He also went on to represent Wexford both at Leinster Council and Central Council levels.
He gave a lifetime of service to the GAA, and in the midst of all those roles he also managed to act as a selector with the county Senior football team. A lover of football, he took a particularly keen interest in the ‘ big ball’ game and enjoyed so much the progress made under Jason Ryan, playing in two Leinster finals and an All-Ireland semi-final.
Known as an expert on the rules, Paddy could relate to any rule in the book when acting as County Chairman, but was always fair and appreciated the predicament any individual or club found themselves in.
A real gentleman, he will go down in history as one of the most approachable officers that has served Wexford GAA, and those in the media will remember his friendly approach and fairness at all times.
Born and reared in Wilton Bree, he was a brother to Willie, Marie, Agnes, Cora and the late Kittie and Lill. He attended Bree National School but left at an early age to help out on the family farm. A hard worker, he learned everything he needed to know on the family farm and would later return to farming with a venture of his own in Davidstown in the early sixties.
Before that, however, Paddy met his beloved wife Peig and a great romance ensued. They were married in 1960 and moved into 4 Market Square where they set up a shop which they had for many years and where they reared their family consisting of Tom, Mary, Anne, Margaret, Joan and Syl.
Hundreds attended the funeral Mass in St David’s church, Davidstown, on Sunday afternoon, with burial taking place afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.
It’s quite likely that as Paddy ascends the steps to heaven, as he did the steps of the Hogan Stand 21 years ago with all of his colleagues, that Our Lord will echo the immortal words of Micheál O’Hehir as he meets him by saying: ‘well done Paddy Wickham’.
Paddy was predeceased by his wife Peig only last January and celebrated his 79th birthday at July’s end. He is mourned by his children Tom, Mary, Anne, Margaret, Joan and Syl, brothers Willie, sister Marie, Agnes, Cora and the late Kitty and Lill and extended family.
Go ndéana dia trocaire ar a anam dílis.
The late Paddy Wickham.