Tributes flow for late Weeshie Fogarty
By John Harrington
The high regard everyone who knew Weeshie Fogarty held him in has been thrown into stark relief by his death over the weekend.
The outpouring of sadness on his passing comes as no surprise.
Weeshie was one of life’s great gentlemen, the sort of rare soul no-one had a bad word to say about.
You always came away from an encounter with Weeshie feeling good about yourself.
He had a fondness for engaging you on a topic he figured you’d have a strong opinion on, or asking you a question you more than likely had an answer to.
Now, Weeshie more than likely had the answer himself already or was more knowledgeable than you on the topic in question, but this was his knack for putting you at your ease, and thereby encouraging a conversation to spout and flow.
It was also the sort of disarming manner that made him such a brilliant broadcaster for Radio Kerry over the course of his career.
His Radio Kerry colleague and match-day co-commentator, Gary O’Sullivan, summed up this aspect of Fogarty’s personality beautifully in a tribute to his friend in the Examiner on Monday.
“He was so natural,” wrote O’Sullivan. “It was like you were sitting up on a barstool having a pint with Weeshie.
“Or having a cup of tea and a sandwich with him. Whether you were working with him or being interviewed by him, he made everyone feel at ease.”
Weeshie’s ability to draw the best from the people he interviewed and paint vivid pictures with his live-match commentary wasn’t the only good reason to listen to him on Radio Kerry.
His own personal recollections of a life in sport were just as interesting and entertaining as anything he was likely to glean from a guest on one of his shows.
A fine footballer in his own day, Weeshie played as a goalkeeper for Kerry at all levels, including senior, and was a sub on the 1969 All-Ireland winning team.
He won four Kerry county titles and an All-Ireland club title with East Kerry, and served his beloved club Legion in every capacity as a player, trainer, mentor, and officer.
And when his playing career was cut short by injury, he became one of the best referees in the country, taking charge of three All-Ireland football semi-finals.
Those bona fides combined with his passion for history and natural inquisitiveness made him an incomparable font of knowledge on all things Kerry football as well as a good many other topics.
“A great Kerryman, a great football man and a great character," said another Kerry legend, Mick O'Dwyer, of Fogarty in the Irish Independent on Monday.
"If you wanted to know anything about Kerry football, Weeshie was the man you went to.
"He knew every detail about it and loved sharing it with people. Kerry football was his life, first as a player and then in so many other areas for the rest of his life.
"He was a remarkable man in so many ways.”
Weeshie was a psychiatric nurse for many years at St. Finan’s Hospital in Killarney before joining Radio Kerry, and perhaps it was his knowledge of human nature as well as sport that made him such an outstanding journalist.
He was a winner of multiple MacNamee Awards with Radio Kerry, which recognise outstanding contributions to Gaelic Games coverage, and in 2015 he was inducted into the MacNamee Awards Hall of Fame.
GAA President John Horan added to the outpouring of tributes to the Killarney-man today when he said: “Weeshie was one of a kind with an involvement with the GAA that spanned many decades and numerous roles.
“His voice and general enthusiasm for Gaelic games spread far beyond his native Kerry and his ability to communicate transcended generations meaning he was equally well-known with younger listeners as he was with his peers.
“On behalf of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael I would like to offer my condolences to Weeshie’s family and wide circle of friends and admirers following his passing.”
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