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Mourners laud Radio Ulster broadcaster Paddy O'Flaherty

By Allan Preston

Published 01/10/2016

Paddy O’Flaherty’s daughter Oonagh at his funeral in North Belfast yesterday
Paddy O’Flaherty’s daughter Oonagh at his funeral in North Belfast yesterday
Karen Patterson
Dot Kirby
Wendy Austin
Mark Carruthers
Denis Murray
Mike Edgar
Paddy O'Flaherty
Paul Clarke
Family members carry the coffin

Family and friends have paid tribute to "the king of his craft" - the late BBC broadcaster Paddy O'Flaherty.

More than 300 mourners gathered for the funeral mass at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in Belfast.

Described by many as the voice of Radio Ulster, Mr O'Flaherty died on Tuesday morning following a short illness, at the age of 73.

His family were joined by a large gathering of his colleagues and close friends from his years at the BBC. Many spoke of their shock at his death, just days after he had been going about his work as normal.

A family notice added that he was the "beloved husband of the late Brenda, loving father of Roderick and Oonagh, devoted grandfather of Lucas and much loved brother to Seamus, Brendan, David and Philip."

During the eulogy mourners were told of his passion for life, his love for country music, angling and how "Paddy was always a bit of a teacher. He was always coaching young journalists."

Paddy (right) belonged to a group of friends known as Lonely Poets, who would meet to discuss Irish history and culture.

Jonathan Bardon from the group spoke at the service and recalled that when Paddy first joined he left them "spellbound" with his storytelling and "enthralled" when he played his violin.

At the end of the service there was a touching goodbye from Paddy himself, as a rendition of the Irish air 'An Coulin' that he had recorded on violin was played.

Speaking before the service, Wilson Hart, who worked alongside Paddy as a BBC producer for 20 years, remembered his friend.

"I retired some time ago, but had recently got friendly with Paddy again. I took up woodturning," he said.

"Then I found Paddy was a founder member of the Ulster chapter of the Irish woodturners. It was a story he covered and he discovered there was no organisation in Northern Ireland. That was the kind of Paddy, he was so curious about everything and enthusiastic and he would just get involved and do things. I used to see him every couple of weeks at wood turning classes. I saw him recently and I was horrified to hear he had died, it was a big shock."

Recalling his broadcasting career, he said: "It would be totally unfair to single out one particular moment of Paddy's contribution to BBC Good Morning Ulster. If I was producing I would always look for a package, a feature story for him to go and do, because he told them so beautifully."

He added: "His packages were scripted to perfection. The soundscape he would create with the audio effects was absolutely perfect.

"I used to be sitting at midnight with the programme ready to go for the next day and Paddy would still be in the editing booth. He would say 'you head on, I'll be another half hour.' Then someone would tell me he left the office at 6am.

"I'd ask him what happened and he said: 'Oh, I just needed to tinker with it a bit'. He was never happy unless every package he did was perfect, and that was just the mark of the man, he was a perfectionist. He was just a class act, I've never known anybody who could put material together the way Paddy did. He was the king of his craft."

Belfast Telegraph

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