Hall of Fame 2018 - Paddy Joe Quigley

Tonight ladies and gentlemen we honour the founding Chairman of Shamrock Gaels, Paddy Joe Quigley, a lifelong stalwart of the GAA at all levels, Club, County, Provincial and National.

Paddy Joe’s story begins with his birth on 12th December 1940 in the townland of  Springfield,  one of 9 children born to Brianie and Elizabeth Quigley (nee Mc Dermott).

It was perhaps inevitable that Paddy Joe would become immersed in all things GAA, as his father, Brianie was a founder member of the re-organised Knockalassa club in 1914. Brianie was one of the first patrons of Shamrock Gaels and in his black overcoat and hat was a familiar figure at Shamrock Gaels matches for many generations of Gaels supporters and players. Paddy Joe’s brother, Mattie and subsequently Paddy Joe himself, would in time follow in the footsteps of Brianie in becoming Patrons of Shamrock Gaels.

An indication of how steeped the Quigley family were in the GAA is contained in a Sligo Champion report on the 1951 Junior Football Final, which was won by Knockalassa; ‘As an interesting footnote to this fine achievement by Knockalassa, there is a curious story told which may explain the club’s good form in 1951. It tells of how Mrs. E. Quigley, who then looked after the maintenance of the jerseys for the club, found a four-leafed clover one morning in the Spring of 1951 as she brought her cows for milking. Mrs. Quigley told nobody about this at the time but when she was putting the number one on the goalie’s jersey, she sewed the clover into it. The rest is history. Knockalassa didn’t lose a single match throughout 1951 – maybe a coincidence, but perhaps not.’

Fr. Frank Quinn, R.I.P. a great friend and himself a Patron of Shamrock Gaels had this to say many years ago about Brianie Quigley; ‘’ ‘Brianie’, as we affectionately referred to him, epitomised for me everything that was good, noble and honourable in a club member. Never did I hear a discouraging word pass his lips, no matter how poorly the teams played. His motto was surely ‘Mol an óige is tiocfaidh se’. When he was already ninety years young, I remember himself and myself embracing at the final whistle of the pulsating 1983 Under-14 County Final. His kindness, forbearance, understanding and enthusiasm touched all our lives’’.   

Paddy Joe’s involvement with the GAA began began as a young boy, winning U-14 and Minor championships with the Knockalassa club in the 1950’s before injury curtailed his playing career. He purchased his first car in 1963 and so himself and Brianie embarked on various journeys across the county and further afield to attend football matches.  A perhaps lesser known fact about Paddy Joe is that in the 1960’s he played the drums in a popular band called the Hilltoppers. Another thing to mention is that he is a lifelong member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association. Following the end of his playing career, Paddy Joe turned his attentions to GAA administration and in 1966 he was elected Chairman of Knockalassa, a position he held for six years until 1972, when the Shamrock Gaels club was formed.  In the intervening period, Paddy Joe embarked upon a refereeing career, beginning in 1970 and would go on to officiate at county and provincial level – these included his appointment as referee for the 1975 Senior County Final between Eastern Harps and Craobh Rua. 

Upon its formation on 16th March 1972, Paddy Joe was elected as the first Chairman of Shamrock Gaels, which was an amalgamation of the historic Sooey and Knockalassa clubs.  From the outset and under Paddy Joe’s Chairmanship, the new club placed a heavy emphasis on developing young players. Paddy Joe and like-minded colleagues on that fledgling committee travelled the breadth of the parishes of the club area, week in, week out, to ensure that children were provided with every opportunity to play football and indeed broaden their social horizons in less prosperous times than nowadays. During Paddy Joe’s five year term as Chairman, the new Club was to develop rapidly and enjoyed considerable success at under-age level as a result of its youth centred approach, a policy that has endured to this day within Shamrock Gaels. The far-sighted vision of its founders was to bear fruit for Shamrock Gaels just 18 years after its formation with a Senior Championship in 1990 again in 1992. Both of these panels included some of those young players Paddy Joe had himself coached years before, which was always of immense satisfaction to him.   

1972 marked another significant milestone for Paddy Joe as it was also the year he married Teresa Foley on 8th April of that year – in fact this coming Sunday marks Paddy Joe and Teresa’s 46th Wedding Anniversary. Paddy Joe and Teresa had three children, Brenda, Marie and Shane, all of whom are here with us tonight with their respective extended families to celebrate this occasion. Paddy Joe and Teresa’s love of all things GAA and Shamrock Gaels in particular would rub off on their children, all of whom have been active in different ways with the club down through the years and it is surely heartening for Paddy Joe and Teresa to now see their grandchildren, Jamie, Matthew, Ryan and Nicole Parke, Niamh & Donncha Brouder, Darragh Quigley and hopefully in time, Aoife Quigley, all involved in GAA activities with Shamrock Gaels and Tubbercurry respectively.  

In 1974, the Quigley family made the brave decision to sell the family farm and buy Aggie & Eileen Gurrie’s shop in Riverstown. Over the years, Quigley’s shop became an institution within our community and in time would also become fondly regarded in wider GAA circles as the unofficial headquarters of Shamrock Gaels. Many important decisions were made across Quigley’s shop counter or in the kitchen behind it without the need for committees or meetings, as were countless post mortems on matches won and lost. The essence of those times was well captured by Paddy Joe & Teresa’s daughter, Brenda who, aged just 9, wrote in the 1986 club history; ‘I look forward to the good evenings, when the boys gather around our shop, waiting for the minibus and cars to take them to the match. It is a noisy place, where I listen to them as they rush to the bus, hoping to get to the front seats. Each boy brings their own gear. Daddy brings the maroon and white jerseys, the football and minerals and we bring the flags’. 

In 1978, Paddy Joe and Teresa joined an All-Stars delegation of players and referees from Sligo who travelled around America for 4 weeks, visiting Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Mexico, visiting local GAA clubs in these locations and promoting the GAA.

In addition to his involvement with Shamrock Gaels, Paddy Joe served as Chairman of East Sligo Divisional Board from 1968 to 1970 and as Secretary to the Board from 1971 to 1972. He was subsequently elected to Connacht Council and served as a member of the Games Administration Committee in Croke Park from 1989 to 1992. Following his term as Chairman of Shamrock Gaels, Paddy Joe fulfilled numerous other functions within the club, most notably as Chairman of the Development Committee from 1997 to 2007, during which period Shamrock Gaels Park was developed and officially opened on 3rd June 1998.

In 2009, in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding commitment to the GAA at club, county, provincial and National levels, Paddy Joe was awarded the prestigious President’s Award by the GAA at a ceremony held in Croke Park on St. Patrick’s Day. There was a particular symbolism to this date given the date of the original foundation of Shamrock Gaels and it was a proud day for Paddy Joe and his family, all of whom were in attendance in Croke Park on the day.

In many ways however, the story of Paddy Joe Quigley cannot be properly told without making particular mention of his devoted wife, Teresa.  Teresa has been a constant and dignified presence in the life of Shamrock Gaels for many decades, whether that be washing jerseys, attending various functions at Paddy Joe’s side or helping to organise refreshments at countless club occasions down through the years. But perhaps what Teresa may best be remembered for was her remarkable devotion to attending under-age matches down through the years with Paddy Joe, in all sorts of far flung destinations around the county and in all sorts of weather. Paddy Joe and Teresa were a constant presence at under-age matches and were both always highly knowledgeable about the future generations of Gaels players, something that carried through to their support for Scór na nÓg activities within the Club.  

In 2012, Paddy Joe was again honoured by Croke Park by being interviewed as part of an oral history of the GAA and so the next time you are in the Croke Park museum be sure to  check out Paddy Joe’s account of his memories of a lifetime’s involvement with the GAA.   

Whether it be caring for elderly neighbours in latter years or his devotion to his family or through his involvement in GAA affairs, Paddy Joe continues to be a much loved, respected and valued member of our community. Of course, everybody will have their own particular stories to tell about Paddy Joe but practically everybody could relate to the cries of ‘ah referee!’ ringing out over football pitches across the county or another favoured phrase ‘‘will ye ever let the ball in!’

Paddy Joe has a consuming passion for all matters GAA but most particularly a passionate pride of place. His love for the Association has endured through many ups and downs over the years and he has rarely missed any game or social occasion associated with the GAA or opportunity to represent the interests of his club or county.  

Tonight, Paddy Joe, as we honour you by inducting you into the Shamrock Gaels Hall of Fame, we also thank you for your lifetime of dedication to your club and your community; we thank you for your wise counsel; we thank you for the many happy memories; we thank you for your friendship and the good times; we thank you for your humour; we thank you for your neighbourliness; we thank you for your leadership but most of all we thank you for the legacy and the inspiration that you and your kind have left us all.

Ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding as we honour our fourth inductee into the Shamrock Gaels Hall of Fame, Paddy Joe Quigley.