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Paddy Reid RIP (1924-2016)

Paddy Reid RIP (1924-2016)

The death has occurred of Paddy Reid, one of the last surviving members of Ireland’s 1948 Grand Slam-winning team. The Limerick-born centre, who first made his mark with Garryowen, won four international caps between 1947 and 1948 and also played professional rugby league in England.

PADDY REID (March 17, 1924-January 8, 2016)
Swanson Terrace, O’Connell Avenue, Limerick City

Late of Garryowen Football Club. Paddy passed away (peacefully) at Corbally House. Beloved husband of Cecil and dearest father of Deirdre (Whelan), Cecil (Clarke) and Pat, London. Deeply regretted by his sister Betty, brother Des, sons-in-law Pat and Ger, grandchildren Lisa, Shane, Kelly & Eilbhe, Deirdre, Greg and Gearóid, his six great grandchildren, relatives, neighbours and friends.

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Rest in Peace.

Reposing at Griffin’s Funeral Home, John’s Gate on Sunday, January 10 from 4.30pm. Removal at 7pm to St. Joseph’s Church, O’Connell Avenue. Funeral on Monday after 1.30pm Mass to Castlemungret Cemetery.

Born in Limerick on March 17, 1924, Patrick Joseph Reid grew up beside the Franciscan Church in Limerick city and was educated at Crescent College. His family ran a pig business, with four bacon factories in the locality.

It was an easy path for him to take up rugby, with his father, father-in-law and uncles having won Munster Senior Cups with local side Garryowen. Paddy captained the Light Blues to the Munster Senior Cup, Munster Senior League and Charity Cup in 1947, as well as playing with distinction for Munster in the Interprovincial Championships.

In the ‘100 Irish Rugby Greats’ book written by John Scally, Reid recalled: “My love of rugby began when I was a five-year-old, when my father bought me my first rugby ball. He played for Garryowen and Munster, as did my father-in-law Mick Kelly. I grew up in a home filled with rugby stories.

“One of my clearest memories is of my dad telling me about travelling to Belfast in 1911, when it was like going to the moon because of the poor state of communications. They visited a shipyard and read a notice on one of them which stated, ‘Even God can’t sink this ship’. It was the Titanic!”

Having played in two unofficial internationals against France and Wales in 1946, Paddy made his full Ireland debut in a 16-3 loss to Australia at Lansdowne Road in December 1947. He lined out in a centre partnership with Kevin Quinn that day.

Reid went on to make three more appearances in the green jersey, scoring his first and only Test try in the famous 1948 Championship win over France in Colombes. He partnered Des McKee in the Irish midfield for three of the Grand Slam games, including the victory over England at Twickenham and the title-clinching triumph against Wales in Belfast.

A talented sportsman across a number of codes, he made the move across the Irish Sea for economic reasons, playing rugby league with both Huddersfield and Halifax for a spell of two-and-a-half years. He featured for Halifax in the 1949 Challenge Cup final against Bradford at Wembley.

Paddy also played hockey to a high level and made a series of appearances for Limerick Football Club at the Markets Field, while his first cousin Tom followed in his footsteps by playing rugby union for Ireland – and the Lions – between 1953 and 1957.

Ar dheis dé go raibh a anam.


On his first appearance for Garryowen against UCG (Irish Independent, March 2009) –

“I was very green. That same day, I had a boil on my neck. There was this chap playing for UCG called PJ Horan. I went up to him before the game and said, ‘excuse me sir, if you’re tackling me, would you tackle me low please? I’ve a boil on my neck’.

Donnacha O’Malley was playing for UCG and heard me. First thing he did in the game was come across and hit me, breaking the boil on my neck. Jesus when you think of it. The innocence (laughing).”

On winning his first cap for Ireland against Australia (100 Irish Rugby Greats) –

“My first match in the green jersey was a tremendous thrill. To me, rugby is life. There could be no greater honour in my eyes than running out at Lansdowne Road for the first time.”

On scoring his first try for Ireland against France (100 Irish Rugby Greats)

“A great character in the team was Barney Mullan. The night before the game in Paris, we had a team meeting as per usual. Barney came up with the idea that if we were under pressure during the game and got a lineout, he would call a short one and throw it over the forwards’ heads to lift the siege.

“True to plan, we got a lineout on our own 25. The French players were huge. They looked like mountains to us, so we needed to out-think them. Mullan threw it long and Jack Kyle grabbed it, passed it to me, I fed it to Des McKee and he returned the compliment for me to score under the posts. The glory was mine but it was Barney’s tactical awareness that earned us that try.”

On being asked by conversion kicker Barney Mullan for a handkerchief after touching down against France (Irish Independent, March 2009) –

“I gave him a handkerchief I had in my shorts and he starts trying to dry the ball. Jesus you wouldn’t have dried it with a vacuum cleaner. The crowd went berserk, booing, whistling, everything. And all Barney says is ‘f**k ’em’!

“He calmly kicked the goal and I often think of that since, with all the coaching that goes on. Christ above in Heaven, we never had a coach. Rugby is a simple game.”

On his decision to move to England and play rugby league (100 Irish Rugby Greats) –

“I had no job and I was getting married. It was as simple as that. It was a great experience, and I acquired great insights into life, but on a personal level it was also a major readjustment. It was a very different world.

“There were a lot of Australians on the team. They were all married and went home after training and matches. There wasn’t the great community spirit that there had been on the Irish team.

“I played at Wembley in front of 98,000 people, but I wasn’t nervous because I had taken part in big matches before. Before the game we were introduced to the Prince of Wales. As we shook hands, I said to him, ‘Everyone at home is asking for you!’ I returned to Ireland in 1950. I was always a home bird.”

On comparing the modern rugby era to the days of 1948 (Ireland’s Grand Slam Heroes) –

“You couldn’t possibly compare now to then. Everybody was struggling. If a fella had a job he was very lucky.

“After every game, you gave your jersey back. Old Rupert Jeffers (from the IRFU) came over and you gave it back. At the end of the season, you got a jersey.”

On the famous club rivalry in Limerick (100 Irish Rugby Greats) –

“The club rivalry in Limerick is intense. To say there is no love lost between Young Munster and Garryowen is an understatement. The incident that best sums this up for me occurred in 1993 when Liam Hall and I travelled to Dublin to see Young Munster play St. Mary’s in the decisive match of the AIL.

“Munsters won and after the game we walked past Johnny Brennan from Munsters and an elderly lady who I recognised immediately because of her strong connection with the club, though she never had any dealings with me. I turned around and said, ‘Congratulations, Johnny!’ Johnny told her: ‘That’s Paddy Reid from Garryowen’. Her reply to this information was: ‘I hates him!’”