The late Paddy at work on Captain's Hill in 2007
"He gave a chance to many people who fell on hard times," the crowd who gathered for the funeral of Paddy Hannigan was told.
In a crowded Church of Our Lady’s Nativity today, Fr John McNamara said that when he came to Leixlip first as parish priest he would see this man working around the street.
“I assumed he was a small builder and I was astonished to find out he and his family owned the Springfield Hotel, the Ryevale Tavern and the Middle Shop.”
Paddy, he said, “did well in life and helped others to do well.”
Some of Paddy’s 13 grandchildren brought symbols of his life to the altar, a bee smoker, representing a forty year association with the North Kildare Beekeepers Association, the keys to a hotel room, representing the Springfield Hotel, and a model of a Ferrari, which Paddy loved to drive.
Fr McNamara recalled how Paddy had met Marie Deegan from Irishtown in Dublin and how they had married in 1960.
He told us: “Paddy gave a lot of employment and he gave a chance to many people who fell on hard times. He was a man of the people. He never lost his head or became grandiose because he owned a hotel. He lived life to the fullest.”
Fr McNamara said the Springfield provided great food and great staff.
He also said that unusually among hotels, the Springfield in Leixlip provides an annual Christmas dinner for senior citizens in the area in association with the St Vincent de Paul Society.
“I don’t know of any other hotel anywhere who does that,” he said.
Fr McNamara said that the Hannigan family were very grateful to the Parke Nursing Home for the great care given to Paddy, adding that Paddy’s quality of life over the last three years was not good.
But the gathering heard from Paddy’s son Ger, who, in a superb account of his father’s life, recalled his sense of fun and adventure to the end.
Ger reminded us that Paddy was “not for sitting around” and had built up a business without a Leaving Cert or college degree.
He said Paddy had served his bar apprenticeship at The Comet in Santry and the Bird Flanagan’s in Phibsboro. They were places, he said, when at that time trouble sometimes had to be sorted with fists.
This apprenticeship came in handy later in Leixlip on Irish Meat Packers pay days
Paddy and Marie would have been married 60 years next year.
“I think it is a fair achievement,” he said.
His dad loved building and Ger recalled how he would ask his architect brother, Tom, to draw up plans for projects, but would get impatient waiting for them, start the project anyway, and leave it up to Tom to legalise it when it was done.
Ger recalled Paddy’s great love of beekeeping and acknowledged the presence at this funeral of his life long beekeeping friend, 97-year-old Peter O’Reilly.
“He (Paddy) would be very proud Thomas and Tome and looking after the bees.”
Ger said Paddy’s priority in Leixlip was to employ local people and it was great to see so many of them today.
His dad, he said, was a great storyteller and kept his sense of humour to the end.
Ger said that in February 2016, Paddy’s life changed, but he bore his illness with great dignity.
Ger said Paddy and Marie loved concerts, Rod Stewart and Frank Sinatra. But his favourite was Louis Armstrong and his song, What a Wonderful World.
The funeral mass was blessed with the talents of singer, Mary Flynn, and accompanist, Deirdre Doyle, who ended with a favourite song of Paddy and Marie’s, Patsy Cline’s version of Irving Berlin’s song, Always.