Old Longford town lost one of its great characters and best loved personalities recently with the sad passing of Patrick (Paddy) Shiels. He was a true blooded Longford town man and his lifetime amongst us was steeped in the town’s social and sporting history.
There was a great attendance at his funeral mass as the people of Longford turned out in great numbers to bid a fond farewell to a man who made friends easily and never turned his back on anybody in distress. During the funeral mass his good friend and local historian, Hugh Farrell delivered a wonderful and poignant eulogy that highlights the many fine facets of a life well lived.
Paddy Shiels was born in March 1951 and was the seventh child and fourth born son to a well known local couple Mollie (nee Taaffe) and Christy Shiels. He was born into a loving home and surrounded by siblings he quickly found his feet and discovered a world of adventure on his doorstep in Longford town.
Thankfully a near tragedy was averted just four years later when young Patrick fell into the old Canal harbour, which has since been covered in and is now a carpark at the rear of the Market Square. The late Noel McGeeney was close by and he quickly dived in and rescued the todder to the delight and relief of his parents and family. Patrick was none the worse for the mishap and it didn’t dampen his adventurous spirit.
His father, Chisty Shiels, was a great footballer and encouraged his sons to participate and the Shiels brothers were a formidable force in the local soccer scene.
In September 1964 Patrick equalised for St Brigid’s against Teffia Celtic in the U-15 juvenile final. But his team was then reduced to ten men when K Dempsey had to go off with cramp and were beaten 2-1.
The following year reports in the Longford Leader said that Patrick was an outstanding defender for Reds United in the U-14 league.
He was just 17 years old when he starred in the FAI Junior Cup and a headline in the Longford Leader famously declared “Shiels brothers pave the way.” This was in reference to a great win over Edenderry in the Cup. Brothers Kitta, Michael and Patrick Shiels were outstanding in the 5-2 win, scoring the first four goals whilst Frankie Flaherty clinched the fifth.
For several years Paddy and his brother-in-law, Joe Farrell, played with Granard, and their accounts of those matches were colourful and memorable.
In 1976 Paddy married the love of his life and soul mate, Mary Farrell. From then until his death they were as one and they went everywhere together. They never missed a family get together or special occasion and his sad passing will be such a huge loss to Mary. At any of those gatherings Paddy would eventually get up to sing after considerable encouragement but, once up, there was no stopping him.
He was a great man for old Longford town and knew so many of the families and personalities. He loved old photos of the town and its characters and he was a go to man’ for any of the local historians who were working on anything related to the town.
Himself and Mary moved to their home in Lisbrack in 1986. For Paddy it was heaven on earth and he was a wonderful neighbour and friend to all around him. In his wonderful eulogy, his good friend, Hugh Farrell, summed it up best when he said: “Patrick Shiels never wrote a bestseller or climbed the highest mountain, or swam the channel, his role in life was far more important than mundane events like that, he was a great friend and neighbour, always ready to give a helping hand to those that required it. He respected his parents and elders and he was a shining example of what a son, husband and uncle should be and a great role model for the next generations.” He was especially proud of his nieces and nephews and delighted in their journeys through life. He would have been especially proud that his niece, Josephine Dolan (nee Doherty) sang so eloquently at his funeral mass.
When he played his beloved soccer, Paddy Shiels famously gave it his all and he treated life the same way. He lived it to the full and made the world a much better place for so many people. Alas for Paddy the final whistle blew on May 29 and his passing leaves a large void in the lives and hearts of so many people in his beloved Longford town.
The late Patrick (Paddy) Shiels of No 2, The Bungalow, Lisbrack, Longford town, was predeceased by his parents, Christy and Molly; his brother, Michael and his sister, Angela. He passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his loving family and he will be remembered with much love by his heartbroken wife, Mary; brothers, Jimmy, Kitta and Martin; sisters Esther and Beverly; brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. His remains reposed at Glennon’s Funeral Home before being brought to St Mel’s Cathedral for Mass of the Resurrection and interment afterwards in Ballymacormack Cemetery.